Jay Smith couldn’t find quality seafood when he moved from Atlanta to Antioch 10 years ago.
“We would drive 30 minutes to get something to eat, battle I-24 East traffic back, so I’m like, ‘we shouldn’t have to keep driving downtown to get something good to eat’.” Smith said.
So he franchised a second location of popular North Nashville spot, Seafood Sensation, off Bell Road in Antioch last October.
“I just knew how much it was growing, how much of a community feel it is,” Smith said. “You just don’t have that as much in Nashville anymore.”
Smith now lives in downtown Nashville, but he knew Antioch was where he and his wife wanted to open their business.
“It’s the next “It City,” and I’m not using hyperbole or trying to be dramatic with that; I really see it,” Smith said.
Smith wasn’t as optimistic a year ago when IKEA pulled the plug on its planned Antioch store.
“Most people were disappointed they didn’t see the potential in Antioch,” Smith said. “People were like, ‘here we go again,’ it was more of the same like, ‘IKEA is leaving just like Hickory Hollow is leaving, everyone is trying to leave the area’.”
Then a glimmer of hope when Tanger Outlets announced a future project in the Nashville area and acquired land in the Century Farms development, where IKEA would have gone.
“I was like, ‘this is going to bring the city back;’ I was really excited,” Smith said. “I just know what it can bring to the area, so even though it’s not right next door, even it being down the street, I just know how much traffic it’s going to bring through.”
Tanger Outlets has not confirmed it will build a mall on land off I-24 and Hickory Hollow Parkway, but all signs point in that direction. Former District 29 Councilwoman Karen Johnson said it is happening.
“I’m super excited,” Johnson said. “We are blessed that Tanger Outlets has identified this area, and I think it was due to IKEA. Other retailers are looking heavily at the Antioch area as a result of that.”
Johnson said the Century Farms development has been a game changer for Antioch.
“Oh, I love it,” Johnson said. “I think it will be a very positive impact. People want to shop and recreate and live in their community.”
Smith said with new business both big and small, the future is bright.
“I’m hoping Antioch can be the first to show we can do a great city and do a lot of different diversity and still be a great area to come,” Smith said. “I feel like that’s what Antioch is doing.”