PHOTO: An entrance to Berry Farms off Old Peytonsville Road shows residential dwellings, several of which have yet to be completed/Brooke Wanser
By BROOKE WANSER
Berry Farms’ central shopping, dining and living space, called Town Center, was recently nominated for the Nashville branch of the NAIOP’s Development of the Year.
NAIOP is the North American Commercial Real Estate Development Association. It is the top organization for developers, owners and investors in office, industrial, retail and mixed-use real estate.
The Hill Center in Brentwood and Nissan’s Smyrna plant were among the five category nominees. All of the nominees demonstrate significant impact to the community by setting trends for the region, said Phil Fawcett, the managing partner of Boyle Investment Company’s Nashville team.
Though Berry Farms lost the win to the Bridgestone Americas Inc. headquarters in Nashville, Fawcett said, “it was nice to be nominated.”
“It’s a little bit stunning when you come down there and you see what’s occurred over the last few years,” he said referencing the new business headquarters for Lee Company and the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, and the recently opened Hampton Inn & Suites.
The development as it is today began in 2002 with a partnership between Boyle and the Berry family, headed by matriarch Avalyn Berry and her nephew, Tyler Berry, direct descendants of the Berrys who owned the property beginning in the 1700s.
Fawcett said a connection to the farm and the family’s history is what sets it apart.
A metal silo at the heart of the development was repurposed from the original farm, as was the barn wood which was used to build Adirondack chairs inside the community pool.
Named “the Plunge,” the pool is another historical nod to the old Willow Plunge swimming hole near Carnton Plantation.
Street names, like General Martin Lane, point to the Civil War history. Brigadier Gen. Buck Martin, said Fawcett, was a Berry relative who lived on the property and fought in the Battle of New Orleans.
“As we looked at the shared vision between the Berrys and Boyle, it was important to both of us,” Fawcett said. “It was something they were excited about, and we can figure out, how do we execute that in a way that really celebrates that history.”
In the future, Fawcett hopes to make the original homestead, built in the 1790s and located off Old Peytonsville Road, more of a key connector to the property’s history.
At the beginning of the design process, Fawcett said he and his colleagues asked questions about the community.
“Where is that destination, that gathering place, that creates a unique sense of place for Franklin and Williamson County?” he said.
As the southern gateway into Franklin, Fawcett said Boyle wanted Berry Farms to be that unique gathering place.
The development pattern, including walkability and Southern architectural styles, is similar to Westhaven.
But in comparing the two, Fawcett said the percentage of residential to commercial development has been flipped, with far more homes in the 1,500 acre Westhaven development than retail or office space.
“I think because of where we are on the interstate, it’s a more natural fit,” Fawcett said.
Berry Farms, which occupies the northwest, southwest, and southeast quadrants around the Goose Creek Bypass interchange off I-65, is approximately 600 acres.
A Publix grocery store, retail shops, and various eateries, including a soon to come Sonic and McDonald’s, fill out the rest of the Town Center, while the Ramsey Solutions headquarters are underway for the Reams Fleming tract, to the southeast of I-65. And the southwest quadrant, known as Chadwell, has yet to be developed at all.
Though Fawcett would not confirm businesses set to come into the less developed tracts, he said most of the remaining space would be office and retail, with a few hundred more homes to come on the combined plots.
Boyle will maintain the signature “Berry Farms” feel in the other tracts, with similar historic design elements, like the white fence and stone pillars.
Fawcett expects the final buildout to take another 15 years, though much is dictated by the market.
“We’re very long term oriented,” he said. “We’re all about making sure that the buildings that are built now add value to the land we have left and the new buildings we build in the future add value to what’s already there. We want to go at a good pace, but we want to make sure it’s done right.”
Fawcett, a Texas native who has lived in Brentwood for nearly 25 years, said he feels the project is successful because of the residents, who acknowledge that it is a special place.
“We want it to be unique to Franklin,” he said. “Not like Disneyland, or contrived.”