GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Business and development are steadily increasing in one of Metro Nashville’s satellite cities, and city leaders are excited about what the future looks like for Goodlettsville residents.
The biggest announcement out of the area recently was the city would be getting a brand new wholesale club store, BJ’s Wholesale. The retailer will set up shop just behind Rivergate Mall, on the same spot where a long-since closed movie theater currently sits.
Demolition on the old cinema is tentatively scheduled for the first two weeks of May, according to Goodlettsville Planning Director Adam McCormick.
The BJ’s Wholesale deal has been “about a year and a half”-long process, according to McCormick, and it was the first firm interest a developer had in the property in his seven years working with the city. Previously, McCormick said, discussions about the site were more nebulous and only floated as potential possibilities rather than firm business plans.
“There was talk about hotels and things, but nothing ever came where there was a formal request before the planning commission,” he said.
Having BJ’s come to town fits in with the city’s most recent comprehensive development plan, passed in 2020. The newest plan included a massive amendment to the Rivergate area, which planning staff felt would help bring new life to the area.
“It’s kind of been stagnant for a very long time,” McCormick said of the mall area. “We came up with some ideas based off the Nashville Next plan to try to bring more mixed-use developments.”
Luckily, because the BJ’s site was already zoned for it, the wholesale club project was able to make its way through the planning process much quicker, as it didn’t require rezoning hearings.
“This was a great gift to the city of Goodlettsville,” he said. “We’re hoping this serves as a catalyst to see more development.”
The mall area is one major piece of Goodlettsville that hasn’t seen the growth in development that the rest of the city has, according to McCormick.
Additionally, he told News 2, development in that area is tricky, because much of it isn’t located within the bounds of Goodlettsville proper, but in Metro Nashville. Luckily, he said, everything on both ends went through easily, and Metro is letting Goodlettsville handle water line permitting, making the development planning process even more efficient.
Beyond BJ’s, city leaders are constantly looking to recruit more businesses to the area, with a focus on more restaurant and retail development. Most of those are developer or property-owner driven, he told News 2. And with the commercial development, housing developments are also seeing a growth.
For instance, he said, there’s currently a request for a mixed-used residential and commercial development with 311 units with a commercial component on the front, a second phase of a different residential development that will add 76 more housing units, and several more townhouse developments on the south side of the city.
“There’s a lot of residential construction at this time,” he said.
Goodlettsville City Manager Tim Ellis said the last four years have seen “extraordinary growth” in the sales tax base, and they do not see it slowing down any time soon.
Adding BJ’s into the mix, he said, would allow its market plan to expand even further than just Goodlettsville, calling it a “pretty huge” deal for the city.
“It was a great adventure of working with the BJ’s Wholesale Club staff and the mall ownership staff,” he said. “BJ’s is just another cornerstone to the redevelopment of the Rivergate area.”
The mall was originally built in 1972, Ellis said, and has “pretty much played its course as far as an all-indoor mall.” While a couple of the anchor stores are still strong, city leaders feel that reinvesting the area will “redevelop a strong commercial core” in the area.
Regardless of BJ’s, though, Ellis said there is developer interest in pretty well all corners of the city, some of which came prior to BJ’s interest and official announcement.
“It is just another piece of the commercial puzzle that we are putting together to create a successful commerce here in our community.”
Ellis is also looking forward to attending the ribbon cutting once the wholesale club construction is finally complete. He told News 2 the estimated opening date would be late 2023 or early 2024.