The Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners voted to make an offer to purchase the Joy Church property on Charlie Daniels Parkway for a possible future City Hall building.
The purchase of Joy Church has been voted down before, but at the time it was to be used as additional park space, since it is adjacent to Charlie Daniels Park. It was taken off the table, and City Manager Kenny Martin brought forth the idea of a land swap with Sellars Funeral Home. The City offices would move into the Sellars building after renovations were done to upgrade it to an office facility. That would leave the entire current City Hall for the Police Department, which is in desperate need of space. Building a new police station would have cost the City around $5 million. The Sellars move would cost just below $100,000 to get it fully renovated. Sellars is also building their new Funeral Home across the street on the vacant City lot, which will generate more tax revenue to the City, and fill in a vacant lot in the heart of Mt. Juliet’s downtown. The Finance building could also be sold or leased to help generate revenue.
The Joy Church building is larger, and could house every City department besides Public Works. That means the City could sell or lease all of the other buildings that the other departments are housed in outside of the current City Hall. It would also make it easier for citizens who will only have to go to one place to take care of all their city needs.
Another perk of the Joy Church building would be that the sanctuary could be used as a meeting hall. It holds 360 people, so City-sanctioned events could be held there, including letting corporations and civic organizations rent the room for events, which would generate a little revenue for the City.
Martin said that he was interested in the Joy Church property for a City Hall before, but the Commissioners had voted it down.
“I thought it was off the table,” said Martin.
Commissioners Ray Justice and Jim Bradshaw co-sponsored the resolution Monday.
Commissioner Art Giles was the first to comment on the item, offering two amendments. He wanted the Sellars property to be put up for sale if the Joy Church property is purchased. He also didn’t want the sanctuary used for social events like dances.
Ed Hagerty was upset about the item, saying that the commissioners had been sold that the Sellars property as the home for the new City Hall, and now he felt like it was a “bait and switch.”
“If you want to sell that building [Sellars] first, then purchase the Joy Church, I’d be for it,” said Hagerty. “…but not because people have decided that place is creepy, we don’t want to go there.”
Justice had voted against the land swap for Sellars Funeral Home.
“I promise I won’t say I told you so,” Justice joked. He said if they could buy the Joy Church property, he joked that they “could unload the Sellars property on some poor soul.”
There was much discussion on just how the Joy Church property would be used. Hagerty was frustrated because he said there wasn’t enough information on how the City planned to use the property.
“It would be nice to have a solid plan,” said Hagerty.
Vice Mayor James Maness agreed.
“I can’t vote for $1.4 million and not know what I am voting for,” said Maness.
The resolution eventually passed 4-1, with Hagerty voting against it. Martin said while the discussion was a hard one, he was glad to see the commissioners were so passionate about the City’s affairs, and they are able to have these debates. Martin said he would get with the owners of the Joy Church property in the coming days, and see if they can come to some sort of agreement.
In other business, the commissioners approved a zoning classification for 28 acres on Providence Parkway which will eventually hold Lifestyle Communities, an urban style multi-living community that will cater to young professionals.
Ed Hagerty, who has been hard on multi-living communities coming into the community in the past, reiterated his full support for the project. He had spoken during the planning commission as well about how he held the project in high regard. He had visited other Lifestyle Communities in Lexington, Ky., and Columbus, Ohio, and was impressed at the high end look, and how it captures a segment of the population that Mt. Juliet needs. He said that many young people are moving away from the Mt. Juliet area after college, including his children, and some are not going to be coming back. This community will keep them in the area, so maybe they will settle down here when they move on to the next stage in life.
Jim Bradshaw said he had nothing against the community, and thinks it looks great, but they are putting too many multi-living communities in that small area of Providence. Lifestyle Communities will be putting a decel lane going into their community, and will also pay to add a right turn lane on Providence Parkway getting on to Mt. Juliet Road to help with some of the traffic concerns. Eventually when all the property behind Publix is developed, the community will tie into that as well, and a road all the way to Central Pike is planned.
The ordinance passed 3-2 with Jim Bradshaw and Art Giles voting against it.