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MJ chamber breaks ground

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Board Chairman Nixon Pressley / D. Whitfield photo

Town Center Station
On Monday, Feb. 29, at exactly 2:29 p.m., more than 100 community members gathered to watch "golden shovels" break ground on what will be a state-of-the-art complex in the heart of Mt. Juliet and new home to the Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce.

The project, currently dubbed the Town Center Station, will showcase the Chamber's name on its façade.

It is developed by local Seth McDowell of Agilitas, with project manager Heath Thorne.

McDowell was nostalgic before the festivities, when he spoke exclusively to The Wilson Post. In 2010 he bought the original 12-acre tract for $3 million. It was the former Mt. Juliet Elementary School property.

He's since developed the building that holds Mirko's Pizza, Children's Clinic East and other businesses. Back then he talked about driving by the parcel and envisioning it "as a bustling piece of real estate."

Now it appears that vision has come true.

"I'm completely humbled," McDowell said, standing on the edge of the crowd of well-wishers Monday. He reflected on the progress thus far.

"To work with this group in my hometown, I thank God Almighty," he said. "This location (across from train station, former school property) has such significance. It's where the school was and is now part of the future. This is the heartbeat of Mt. Juliet. It's not about what we do, but how we do, and we are so proud to be responsible for this quadrant."

Town Center Station will be 24,000 square feet. It will be home to not only the Chamber (3,400 square feet) but also Aflac, Keller Williams and People's Home Equity.

Master of Ceremonies at the ground breaking was current Chamber Board Chair Nixon Pressley. He announced, he too, will be a tenant, with his partner, in the new building for their law practice. Project Manager Thorne said he hoped people could move in by September or October, and he said there are several other interested parties.

Pressley said, "So many people have played a part in this ground breaking."

"It's so fitting," he said. "And, is a testament to the esteem of this community and the way we come together. There's a bright future, and this is an exciting day for the Chamber. It's no longer a pipe dream, but a reality."

Project Engineer Rob Porter announced a "capital campaign" for the project.

"It's a great day," he said. "Five years ago we tried to figure out how to make this work, and we did. It's the Town Center Station, but now is the Mt. Juliet Chamber Building. There are still lots of things to do. There's furniture to be had, and raising funds for the move. And we will be selling bricks."

He mentioned Commercial Realty Services and Wilson Bank & Trust were initial large sponsors, with others in line. The Chamber will send out information this week on different levels of sponsorship and the brick-buying program. Porter said the Lebanon Chamber had a similar capital fund program for their building.

McDowell told The Wilson Post there are two more acres of the original tract undeveloped after this project.

"This is great to see continued development," he said. "There might be a Phase 2 on the remaining acres."

Chamber President Mark Hinesley talked about how proud he was of the community's support.

"From day one when we move in we will improve every program and service, overnight," he said. "The meeting space will be astronomical. Just think, people from Nashville can get on a train to Mt. Juliet, cross the street and join us. I also know this development will spur others."

Hinesley said the success of the upcoming development "is a testament to the confidence of our local businesses for the future here."

Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at laurieeverett1@gmail.com.

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Heath Thorne, Mark Hinesley, Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce, Seth McDowell, Town Center Station
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