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Early plans submitted by college students

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By CONNIE ESHThe Wilson Post

A group of students from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and Vanderbilt University in Nashville presented preliminary plans on Friday for developing an area within walking distance of the Music City Star’s stop just off Baddour Parkway.

The possible plans included developing a mixed use complex based around the Lebanon train station, designs for combined shopping areas and parking garages, and a new design for the Farmers Market and the area near it.

The students from both universities are taking part in the Blueprint for Lebanon created by the American Institute of Architects. Lebanon is one of three cities in Tennessee chosen for this project. The group met at The Mill at Lebanon on Friday to discuss their plans.

UT Professor T.K. Davis teaches a junior/senior seminar called Urban Design, which involves producing a pedestrian friendly plan for development. The students from Mt. Juliet, Memphis, Knoxville and several other areas used their training in college and their own towns as a basis for their designs.

All the plans suggested recommend a parking garage, edged with about 30 feet of shops for the parking lot where the county courthouse once stood. Their designs all take the existing architecture into consideration.

One of the parking garages resembled a “courthouse,” with windows which had no glass. It was designed to complement the buildings already around the Square and to help define the actual Square.

Another suggestion included in all five plans was a roundabout, instead of the current traffic pattern on the Square.

All five groups also agreed that arranging to have traffic stop from all four directions before entering the Square would improve the safety for pedestrians and make the Square more attractive to tourists and shoppers.

The students from Vanderbilt are from the university’s Owen Graduate School of Management’s Real Estate Development Program.

Their final project is to work with the UT students and professional developers to identify all the stakeholders, conduct market analysis and develop a marketing strategy that could encourage local developers to actually develop projects based on the work being done.

The Vanderbilt students would also advise on ways to finance the projects, such as Tax Increment Financing funding.

They said the only real risk with TIF funding is if the expected increase in value does not occur. This leaves the bonding agent responsible for the repayment of the bonds with no funds to do so.

The two groups will meet three more time this semester in Lebanon. When the project is completed, not only will both classes have the design and analysis in their portfolios, but Lebanon will have copies of all of the material as well.

The final presentation of the plans and financial materials to the city is scheduled for April 24.

Staff Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@wilsonpost.com.

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