Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Changing Face of a Small Town

College Grove has been a small town that no one really cared about moving to until the past couple of years. Apparently, it seems everyone moving to Tennessee wants to move to Williamson County based on scholastic scores that are posted for the public school system.

Williamson County has about 7 different "areas" if you look at it from a real estate market view point. But if you are shopping for real estate, this popular county is known collectively in the multiple listing service as "Area 10."

First you have Brentwood, just south of Nashville, with a mix of old and new homes, nothing under $300k for a single family home. Brentwood seems to be locked in between Nashville and Franklin with no real place to expand.

Next, and in some places literally across the street from Brentwood, is Franklin, the seat of Williamson County's government. Dubbed "the best small town in Tennessee," Franklin has a great old part of town which boast a pre-Civil War era courthouse, great main street shopping, and beautiful old homes that have been renovated. There are also numerous newer homes in the surrounding spaces. Single family homes here start about $200k and just go right on up. Franklin has been expanding to the west for several years and has started to expand to the east in the past couple of years.

To the west of Franklin is the Leiper's Fork community which has, over the past 10 years, become a haven for upscale folk, artist, music personalities, Hollywood personalities, etc., looking for the privacy of living in the country, yet convenient to Music Row and the like. Market values in Leiper's Fork seem to go up every time another celebrity moves in. Apparently this small community, which has a Franklin zip code, has adopted some fairly strict restrictions on land development, also causing market values to be a premium.

Further west of Franklin and Leiper's Fork, almost to Dickson, is Fairview. Fairview still retains the flavor of a small country town. In this writer's opinion, the thing about Fairview is "you can't get there from here," and it really doesn't seem like it is a part of Williamson County. It seems to just be there between Nashville and Hickman County. The booming real estate market of the past 2-3 years has had some impact on Fairview, but nothing compared to other areas of the county. The lack of a large sewage treatment system has curtailed the development of subdivisions.

To the east of Brentwood/Franklin is the quaint, small town of Nolensville. This town also predates the Civil War and was a stage coach stop on the highway that leads to College Grove. Nolensville incorporated several years ago probably to avoid being absorbed by Franklin and Brentwood. This town has a really neat retail area located in the old store front buildings. Nolensville is also just south of the Nashville/Davidson County line. This area has become most recently a popular destination for upper-middle class families moving out of Nashville to the south. The sudden, recent growth and development here is the result of this town being connected to the Nashville Metro Sewer System. Nolensville sponsors a lot of community events and still feels like a small country town, but not for long. Housing prices for new construction homes start around $300k.

South of Franklin about 10 minutes down the I-65 corridor is Thompson's Station and Spring Hill. Spring Hill is technically a Maury County town with the government being on that side of the county line. This area was the "sticks" when this writer was growing up. Then GM built the Saturn plant and Spring Hill has never been the same. In the early years of GM being in town, it seemed the economy and the housing market was dependent on the population of the auto plant to support it. However, over the past 10 years, this area has become the most popular move-to location for middle class families coming here from all over the US. Home prices in this area have been "affordable" for many years. But, alas, the hot market of the past 2-3 years has seen an increase in the numbers of folks moving to Williamson County and with this being an area with the most expansion space, there are lots of new homes in the $400k range. There are, however, still lots of new homes being built that are in the low $200k range. Thompson Station is pressed right in between Franklin and Spring Hill and these communities sort of just "run together" like Franklin and Brentwood to the north.

As the recent hot real estate market heated up, Williamson County seemed to be running out of areas that were undeveloped. Land in the College Grove area has consisted of large family-held agricultural parcels since Tennessee became a state. More than a few of these have remained in the possession of founding families for 200 years. But, as the patriarchs and matriarchs pass, the importance of the family farm weakens with the temptation of big bucks. When this writer was newly married in 1975, raw land at auction brought about $2,000 per acre for a 5-6 acre tract. Nowadays, it seems this area will be mostly developed into 5-6 acre estate lots largely due to the fact there is not and probably will not be any large sewer systems in this end of the county. Most recently the going price for a 5-6 acre tract is averaging around $35-40,000 per acre. Two very large tracts, 500 acres and 1,000 acres, sold this year for development as golf course communities. These communities will be private gated communities with homes starting around $600k and going up to $1.5 million.

It's looking as though College Grove is the "next Big Thing" in Williamson County. Oh, by the way, College Grove is also home to more than one music celebrity as well.

Personal note: This writer's maternal grandmother was upset when her husband, Charles Lavender Scales, borrowed $900 to buy 110 acres of his grandfather's homeplace from an uncle in the early 1930's and "and we couldn't even live in the house, it was being used to store hay."

Absalom Scales Homplace
toward the end of the
19th Century

Absalom Scales Homeplace
as it appears today

1 comment:

Palma said...

Well written article.