By MATT BLOIS
A development company has moved on to developing phase two of the Hill Center in Brentwood. It will include a hotel, shops and an office building.
The first phase is a mix of retail stores, restaurants and offices. It opened about a year ago, and is now fully occupied.
H.G. Realty hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking for the next step of the project at the Hill Center on Thursday afternoon. The company plans to build a 141 room AC Hotel by Marriott to the east of the parking garage on Maryland Way.
The office building will be built south of the hotel. Two retail buildings and a new parking garage will be built south of the existing parking garage. H.G. Hill President Jimmy Granberry said he hopes to finish the projects by late 2019 or early 2020.
At the event, Governor Bill Haslam said that projects like the Hill Center are important because they generate lots of sales tax, which is one of the ways that Tennessee can avoid levying an income tax. But he added that it’s also important for cities to have quality public spaces.
“Sometimes you inherit those great spaces. There’s an old part of downtown … that makes it great,” he said. “And sometimes you have people who creatively put great spaces together, and that’s what I think has happened here.”
H.G. Realty hosted the event in a large white tent outside the parking garage, complete with complimentary hors d’oeuvre and golden shovels. Several members of the Brentwood Planning Commission attended the event along with city staff and several City Commissioners.
The project was one of the first decisions that Mayor Jill Burgin had to consider when she was elected to the City Commission. The land was originally zoned for office buildings or big box retail stores. In 2012, the company requested a zoning change so that it could build shops, restaurants and condos.
“At first it did not go over well,” Burgin said at the event. “Neighbors were nervous about it, but you were patient. You came back with a revised plan that people could live with.”
H.G. Realty withdrew that original proposal in 2013 after significant opposition to the high density housing. After seeing the opposition, City Manager Kirk Bednar said the company reached out to residents and modified the plan.
The next year, the company presented a new proposal with a similar mix of commercial space, but no housing. The revised plan had strong support from both the city’s Planning Commission and the City Commission.
H.G Realty is working with the Huntsville based development company Doradus Partners to build the hotel. Yedla Management Company, a company affiliated with Doradus, will manage the hotel.
State Volunteer Mutual Insurance Company is partnering with H.G. Realty to build the office building. The company will be the main tenant, occupying about 50 percent of the building. Granberry said that he hasn’t leased the new retail spaces yet.