Looking to pump additional city services into an area exploding in population, Mayor Karl Dean has offered to purchase the former JCPenney building at Hickory Hollow Mall for $3.25 million.
The space would accommodate an expanded library, new regional community center and 2.6 acres of green space.
“Southeast Davidson County is one of the fastest growing parts of our city, and this purchase will help make sure that the facilities and services there keep pace with the needs of its residents,” Dean said in a press release Friday.
Dean’s administration has drafted a resolution to purchase the property from CBL & Associates Properties Inc., the mall’s owner. That proposal set to go before the Metro Council Nov. 15.
The $3.25 million price tag would come from the previous year’s capital-spending plan, which carved out $18 million for the development of the mixed-use center.
District 32 Metro Councilwoman Jacobia Dowell, who represents the area, called the community center and library “much needed” additions to the Antioch area.
“I’ve been out here 15 years,” Dowell said. “And we’ve had this conversation before. We’ve needed a community center out here, and the library we have has always been a little small to accommodate the community.”
The purchase of the mall has been in the works for months, with Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling telling The City Paper in September to expect a formal proposal this fall.
Dean’s plan comes nearly one year after he had proposed leasing the former JCPenney space from CBL, which would have included the relocation of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds expo center to the mall. The project –– which also involved a new library, community center and park –– fell apart when the council bucked his wishes to redevelop the fairgrounds. The previous lease arrangement, orchestrated by Dean’s administration, was the subject of widespread scrutiny.
Under the latest proposal, the 30,000-square-foot regional community center would include a gymnasium, fitness center, multi-purpose room and other amenities, according to the Mayor’s Office.
“The need to provide more park services in southeastern Davidson County has been pointed out in both our Parks and Greenways Master Plan and in the Open Space Plan, and is one of the Parks Department’s highest priorities,” Metro Parks and Recreation Director Tommy Lynch said.
The expanded library would replace the current 1992-era Southeast Branch Library located at 2325 Hickory Highlands Drive, which has limited capacity to grow or add parking. At 25,000 square feet, the new library would double the size of the existing library.
Other non-retail components planned at Hickory Hollow Mall include a satellite campus of Nashville State Community College. Metro contributed $1 million to assist the school’s expansion into Antioch. Nashville State is in the process of purchasing the Dillard’s building at the mall.