MDT-03292019-n-knoll-jmk

A parcel of land between Substance Solutions and what used to be the Tomato Head restaurant is now the subject of two commercial development proposals.

A small but coveted strip of land in the Maryville downtown area may see development in the near future after city government approved one developer’s request for proposal.

After a long and quiet pause in proceedings late Tuesday, Maryville City Council members unanimously voted to approve a development request from West Broadway Partners, a collaborative team with roots in Knoxville and Maryville. The group submitted a request for proposal that was introduced in a work session in early March.

Pending a contractual agreement, the development will be built on a 0.11-acre West Broadway parcel in front of the West Harper Avenue municipal parking garage.

Another proposal submitted by FMP LLC also was competing for the city’s vote. Representatives from both groups were present at the council meeting.

Before the vote, City Manager Greg McClain reminded council members they had spoken one-on-one with him regarding both proposals and had been given “a lot of time” to consider their choices.

City officials had considered bringing the proposals to an April council vote but ultimately extended the consideration period until May, allowing them to discuss the matter in another work session.

City Attorney Melanie Davis asked McClain if there would be a particular timeframe in which the selected group would be required to develop, noting that a standard timeline was usually around 18 months.

McClain said the final details would have to be worked out in a negotiation process after the vote, but noted the property essentially would be handed over to the chosen developer in a $1 sale.

Though council members originally seemed reticent to respond with a preference, Andy White eventually spoke.

“I think we need to develop this,” he said. “This has been 10 years in the running.” While White praised the thoroughness of both proposals, he said West Broadway Partners’ experience made it the better choice.

“We can’t afford to get this wrong. We’re giving somebody this property,” he said.

The motion for approval was seconded by Councilman Tommy Hunt.

Reactions and visions

“It’s exciting,” Farmers Insurance agent and Leadership Blount board Chair Drew Miles said. Miles is one of three Maryville men who make up FMP LLC.

“We know these guys really well. ... I’m just excited to see what they do. The most important thing is that what’s right for the city gets done; doesn’t matter who does it.”

Both FMP and Partners’ design proposals for the development included a three-story, mixed-use project with layouts for restaurants, office space and apartments.

Harry McIntosh, president of LeConte Land Development, shared his former competitor’s enthusiasm. “We’re excited about getting started,” he said. “I think we have a really good proposal.” He added the group was talking to several restaurants and considering adding more living space on the upper levels of their building.

The development approval comes as the Maryville Downtown Association and adjacent groups have made significant strides in bringing business and events to the area.

Though the vote has been finalized and discussion about a contract will begin soon, council members emphasized nothing was set in stone until the city and Partners came to a signed agreement.

Until that point and until other features of the project are solidified, the project’s full approval will remain in progress, council members affirmed.

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