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Work begins on Legends Drive extension

Xavier Smith • Updated Jul 14, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Lebanon is one step closer to having a new potential retail attraction as the city held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for the extension of Legends Drive.

“It’s nearly a mile and a half of road that will attract retail, restaurants and other businesses,” Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead said.

The $4.6 million project will extend Legends Drive from west of Tater Peeler Road to Cainsville Road. The road will run parallel to Interstate 40, similar to Interstate Drive between South Willow Avenue and South Jefferson Avenue in Cookeville.

The road in Cookeville is home to Ford Lincoln of Cookeville, Chili’s, Red Lobster, Fazoli’s, Outback Steakhouse, Cheddar’s, Starbucks, Olive Garden and other restaurant, businesses and retail outlets.

“This is going to make a change, not only for wards 2 and 3, but the entire city,” Craighead said.

“Because of the businesses there, as well as the industry on the other side of the interstate, this will become a hotspot for businesses,” Craighead said in April. “We’ve had about three different hotels talking about building here. We have a room shortage in Lebanon. Some hotels are staying right at 95 percent occupied. On the weekends and during the week, they’re full.”

Craighead thanked the Lebanon City Council and several other individuals, businesses and group that helped make the extension possible.

“You had a lot people who stepped up and said, ‘we believe in your vision, mayor,’” he said.

The council also discussed future projects in the western portion in April after it approved bids for the project.

“When I talk to them, they always say things like ‘I wish we had more restaurants on our side of town.’ This is on my mind because tonight we are voting on spending $5 million to build a road for retail, dining and entertainment and we are building that about as far from Ward 6 that we possibly can,” said Ward 6 councilor Rick Bell, referring to conversations with constituents of his ward, which he became the representative of earlier this year.

“I feel like to allow a section of our community to go somewhere else and shop in another city, we’re losing out. I’ve been told here in the past few weeks that part of our job is to do what’s best for the city of Lebanon, and I really believe what’s best for the city of Lebanon is to start developing Hartmann Drive and 109,” Bell said.

Craighead said he agreed with Bell’s sentiments and said the city has seen an increase in potential developers, thanks in part to the recently conducted special census. He also noted the potential Beckwith Road interchange.

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