The word “vital” was thrown around repeatedly Thursday morning as Dirt County executives and developers threw it around.
A 300-unit apartment complex named “Vital at Springbrook Farm” opened across from the new Fairfield Inn & Suites between Alcoa Highway and Tesla Boulevard.
Sarah Harris of Bluedog Capital Partners, a real estate investment group, said that when completed, the property will include a clubhouse, fitness center, swimming pool, summer kitchen, outdoor kitchen and social spaces. Harris added that the buildings will offer studio, 1- and 2-bedroom units that are pet-friendly, and the apartments will have large kitchens, patios and personal office spaces.
Located in the heart of Springbrook Farm, she said residents will be within walking distance of bike paths, a distillery, restaurants and other shops.
Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell said the view from the groundbreaking site is one of the best in the county. The developers said the design could mimic a modern barn or farmhouse to match the surrounding landscape.
In partnership with Bluedog, Joseph Welden of StoneRiver, a property investment, development and management group that focuses on multi-family residences, said Vital is the second project at Alcoa that StoneRiver is part of.
“It is my privilege today to welcome you to this extremely ‘vital’ event,” said Alcoa City Manager Mark Johnson. “I wondered what the name of this is, and it works really, really well for this event and Springbrook Farm. It’s key to getting off to a great start.”
Like the first home in a housing estate, Johnson said more developments are taking place and more are to come.
Vital is the fourth development to begin construction in the future downtown area where the ALCOA Inc. West factory once stood.
The new, larger Texas Roadhouse across Hall Road from where the restaurant currently operates has a setting and foundation. A new food town next door to Vital opened several weeks ago, and Fairfield across the street is built and open for business.
“As Alcoa goes, so goes Blount County,” Mayor Mitchell said. “We never want to forget that. What makes it all work is that we all work together and have the same goals and objectives.”
Mitchell said Alcoa City’s vision for the region will complement the entire region. Although it took decades, Mitchell said speed and getting it right don’t always go hand in hand.
Springbrook Farm, he said, was done well.
The development of Springbrook Farm has dominated the agendas of Alcoa’s Board of Commissioners and the Planning Commission in recent years. Shovel after shovel, the master plan materializes from concept and site plans to bricks and mortar making money.
“I remember when Mark (Johnson) was first talking about [Springbrook Farm] back when he became city manager,” Mitchell said. “It was a windy day like this, and he was struggling to keep his bangs out of his eyes. How long has it been.”
Johnson, whose head reflected the morning sun on Thursday, said shortly after being hired as city manager of Alcoa in 1999, the redevelopment of the more than 300 acres of the former factory site had become the one of his first projects.
“Twenty-two and a half years later, and who said government doesn’t run at lightning speed? says Johnson.
To top off the ceremony, Jeff Arnett of Company Distilling gave a toast and offered the crowd shots of morning bourbon, a little stronger than espresso.
Company Distilling will build a large headquarters and manufacturing facility at Springbrook Farm.