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Public turns out for Cumberland Center Development District

Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 15, 2015 at 1:48 PM

Lebanon officials addressed questions and concerns Monday about the proposed Cumberland Center Development District.

Mayor Philip Craighead held a three-hour public meeting Monday to address any questions before council considers the topic Tuesday.

The public meeting was very informal and featured posters of the development’s plans on display across the Town Meeting Hall.

Everyone from concerned and interested citizens to city officials showed up to view the plans as Craighead took time personally to show people with questions and comments individually around the room and answer any lingering concerns.

The proposed site for the Cumberland Center is off Cumberland Street at Interstate 40 exit 238.

The development attracted Logan’s Roadhouse and the Boot Barn, respectively, within the past year.

When the plan was first pitched in 2011, it was to be a more-than-700-acre entertainment district, featuring office space, retail stores and restaurants, as well as a $40 million, 150,000-square-foot event center with two ice rinks, one of which would be the home ice for a Central Hockey League franchise.

Though the planned amenities haven’t changed much, except to possibly add a higher-end motel, the area itself has decreased to 257 acres in the latest plans. Plans also call for a future road connecting Legends Drive with Briskine Lane and dissecting the property. 

Andy Curtin said he moved from the Duluth, Ga., area and that the plans and situation were similar to that of the Gwinnett Center.

Curtin said Gwinnett Center attracted activities such as arena football and hockey leagues.

Curtin said things like cheaper hotels in the area, compared to Nashville, also was comparable to Duluth area compared to Atlanta.

“It really works if you put it all together,” Curtin said.

Curtin also said Craighead had said the Nashville Predators might be interested in having a minor league hockey team close to home.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Curtin said. “This proposed development is even the exact same distance off the interstate as the Gwinnett Center is.”

Curtin said the Gwinnett Center also featured other attractions and activities such as weddings, graduations and the SEC women’s basketball tournament.

“If you build things here you open it up to having basketball and hockey tournaments for all ages to come to the area,” Curtin said. “Hockey is getting bigger in the south, there’s just no place to play it.

“There’s tons of things you can do with this center, but the big thing is the ‘niche’ thing; the things that are too small to have in Bridgestone Arena or LP Field,” Curtin said.

Craighead has said tourism and corporate office opportunities are the current focus of his administration.

“As Lebanon and Wilson County continue to prosper, our responsibilities become greater, and with that comes the responsibility on leadership to find ways in which to nurture and encourage new and different kinds of growth for our community,” Craighead said. “I’m excited about the possibilities in which the Cumberland Center Development District can impact our future. This plan comes in several phases with some decisions being left for future leaders. What is being achieved today is laying the foundation to find ways to fund issues, which come with continued growth and improvement.

“[Wilson County] Mayor [Randall] Hutto and I, through several meetings and many discussions with community leaders, feel this development will help achieve the goals needed to supplement some of our future revenue needs while providing quality entertainment venues and providing a strong recruiting tool to attract future corporate entities to Wilson County.”

The CCDD plan will be up for discussion at the council meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m.

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