Seeds that were planted in West Morristown roughly 25 years ago, are still bearing fruit.
Shannon Greene who, along with his brothers, developed Merchants Greene on West Andrew Johnson Highway, says the foresight of city, county and state leaders stretching all the way back to 1998 is continuing to be a positive for Morristown, Hamblen County and the Lakeway Area.
Merchant’s Greene which has in the last year added a Weigel’s and a Wendy’s will soon see significantly more development in the coming years, Greene said.
Greene announced this week that he’s closed on a Marriott property hotel to be added to the site, as well as Florida fast food chicken chain named Huey McGoo’s Chicken. This is in addition to a car wash that is under construction, a mix use shopping center that is confirmed to have two more restaurants, another mixed use shopping center that is in the development stage and major development that is still in negotiations.
The lion’s share of recognition for successful development in the area belongs to those who greenlit and funded the multi-phase roadway connecting West AJ to Interstate 81, he said.
“In 1998, a group of individuals who had travelled throughout the United State and other countries saw rural areas thriving by planning large developments to enhance quality of life in smaller towns,” Greene said. “The idea of bringing revenue and an updated style of living to our area began with Merchants Greene Boulevard. This new highway, approved under Gov. Don Sundquist, was the first step in fulfilling this plan.”
Greene said since the development of Merchants Greene Boulevard – and later the extender to the interstate – the area has seen tremendous growth with more on the way bringing substantial sales tax revenue and new jobs.
And the development is done.
“We now have a $50 million state of the art medical facility on the way, a new recreation facility under construction and the new Public Works building,” he said. “We have new restaurants, banks, retail merchants, homes and apartments – all the perks of a big city. We have succeeded in maintaining the integrity of our small town while combining it with a more modern lifestyle.”
Greene pointed out that the cost of the roadway was borne entirely by state dollars spread across several administrations and praised State Sen. Steve Southerland – who has represented Hamblen County in Nashville for most of that time – for his efforts.
Greene noted that traffic has more than doubled on Merchants Greene since the extender has opened. Three years ago, 16,000 vehicles traveled on the roadway per day. Now that number is 38,000, Greene said.
“This increase and shift in traffic patterns is one of the main factors national retailers look for when determining where to place a new expanded location,” he said.
Greene also praised local leaders for approving Tax Incremental Financing for development projects. TIFs allow developers to spend money on infrastructure improvements needed for their development in place of increased property taxes on the site over a period of time.
Greene said this allows more development to get off the ground, provide more jobs and create more sales tax revenue.
Greene said the Marriott property will be located towards the rear of the property on Howell Road. It will feature 75 to 100 units and stand four stories tall.
The McGoo’s chicken restaurant will be right beside Fazolis while the first mixed use shopping center will be on the corner near Fazolis, accessible off the roundabout.
Merchant Greene isn’t the only place Morristown is growing. Among many rumored developments on the West side of Morristown, the city of Morristown confirms a pair of coffee places and a sit-down restaurant. The city indicates a Starbucks and a Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen are coming to the Bellwood Farms development next to Merchant Greene as well as a Dutch Bros Coffee at the corner of W. Economy and West Andrew Johnson Highway.
An Arby’s location has been announced on the East side of Morristown on Morris Boulevard near the old Sagebrush location.
A trio of car washes are also planned, two Wash N Rolls are coming, one at Merchants Greene and at the intersection of Morris Boulevard and Cumberland. A Tidal Wave Auto Spa is planned directly across West AJ from Merchants Greene.