By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor

COOKEVILLE – On Tuesday, city and county officials were joined by members of the development team for an official groundbreaking ceremony at the site of The Shoppes at Eagle Point development; although dirt has been moving since September at the site of Cookeville’s most-anticipated new retail center.

“(It’s) another incredible example of how teamwork, a little tenacity and strong commitment to community can make things happen,” Melinda Keifer, Cookeville’s economic and community development coordinator, said of the project.

“One good thing we have in Putnam County and Cookeville – one of our greatest attributes – is our teamwork,” Randy Porter, Putnam County Executive, added. “We have some great partnerships – the city, the county, the state, chamber of commerce – all of us come together as one big team in Putnam County and I think that’s what has made us so successful with all of the projects and great things we’ve been able to do the last few years.”

A long time coming:
Discussion of a possible new retail development began nearly four years ago. Site plans began circulating in 2015 and The Shoppes at Eagle Point stood poised for a summer 2016 completion; pending environmental approval. Later that year, an environmental group filed a petition in opposition of the development; citing nearly four acres of wetlands stood to be destroyed as a result.

A mitigation plan was established, securing a 42-acre, pristine wetland site located in White County. The mitigated site is home to nine endangered species and flows into a 1,200 acre watershed. According to those plans, only non-invasive, low-impact, activities such as hiking, wildlife viewing, or educational uses will be allowed there. Browning Development Solutions will fund the long-term management and maintenance of that site.

A regional power center:
A joint venture between CBL Properties, CHM, LLC, and Browning Development, the 40-plus acre Shoppes site, located along Walnut Avenue and Interstate Drive, will offer more than 230,000 square feet in retail space. Dubbed a “regional power center” by Browning, the development will be anchored by big-name retailers Publix, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Ross, PetSmart and Ulta Beauty. A mix of other retailers, including Five Below and Shoe Carnival, and restaurants, including Chipotle Mexican Grille and Panera Bread, are also expected to call the Shoppes home.

“When the first contact that our development team had with the city of Cookeville and Putnam County, it was official – we knew we were dealing with a well-oiled and very talented team that knows how to win,” CHM’s Mike McGuffin said during the ceremony. “Over the past four years since we started this process, these officials have overcome every obstacle, remained calm and composed, been resilient through adversity, and stayed focused on one goal – and that’s to see this project through.”

The development, valued north of $50 million, will have a significant impact on the local and regional economy. According to Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton, sales tax revenue makes up about 49 percent of the city’s revenue funds. In addition to the anticipated $2.4 million boost to the local sales tax revenue stream, the center’s various retailers are estimated to employ more than 600 people combined.

The Shoppes at Eagle Point development is expected to be complete next year with a grand opening slated for fall 2018.

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