Outside the box thinking is what marks this year’s recipients of a County Success Story award by the Tennessee County Services Association (TCSA), which started five years ago recognizing county services and programs that make their communities better through innovation and rethinking service delivery.
Four counties were spotlighted this year as TCSA presented the awards during its 66th annual fall conference and trade show Oct. 30 in Knox County including Cheatham County for Sycamore Square development.
Created in 2014 the County Success Story awards annually recognize innovative solutions, a sustained pattern of excellence in governance, a best practice that increases efficiency in the delivery of county services or resulted in significant savings to taxpayers, a new approach or use of new technology to deliver services, or improved cooperation or coordination between county offices or local governments that resulted in enhance service delivery, according to David Connor, executive director of TCSA.
The portability of the programs, how another county might be able to pick up the idea and run with it in their own community, is a major factor along with a program’s sustainability.
Cheatham County needed new office space. A 30-year old shopping center that was in poor condition and about 70-percent occupancy rate was purchased by the county. The center has a total of 102,000 sq. ft. The county built out 22,000 sq. ft. in new office space to move County Clerk, Trustee, Assessor of Property, Veterans Services, Building Commissioner and Economic and Community Development.
The center had a total face lift as well as provided 500 parking spaces on the 17 acre office/ commercial mixed use development. The existing businesses have stayed and several have extended their leases that provide a gross income to the county of $450,000 a year. The lease and maintenance fees cover the county’s costs and operation of the center while providing a net $330,000 net revenue stream to the county. Renovating the center was one of the largest repurpose projects ever in the county and it has increased business at the center resulting in more sales tax for the Town of Ashland City as well as the county.
The convenience for citizens to do business with the county is greatly increased, as well as security and safety at the new center. As tenants move out in the coming years, the county will have additional space for Cheatham County government use with only the costs of renovations to the existing space. The county has invested $6.4 million between the purchase price of $3.1 million and $3.3 million in renovation costs. The breakdown reveals a $66.50 sq. ft. cost that covers the purchase, renovation and full facelift of the center. For Cheatham County this should be a 50 to 100 year solution for future space needs for county services.
Sycamore Square was recognized by Greater Nashville Regional Council in October for the economic impact the project had on Cheatham County.