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Option On Fairgrounds Expires, Putnam Searching For New Developer

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Option On Fairgrounds Expires, Putnam Searching For New Developer

Putnam County’s option to sell the fairgrounds property has expired.

Mayor Randy Porter said the Nashville-based developer decided to not extend the option once this month’s deadline approached. According to the agreement signed by the county commission, the developer had to have a firm commitment from a retailer by July.

Porter said the developer was unable to get that commitment for a retailer to build in Cookeville.

“They looked at our population and instead of looking at the population of the whole Upper Cumberland region that comes here to shop which is 340,000 or 350,000,” Porter said. “Sometimes they only look at Putnam County or Cookeville’s population and don’t see us as the retail hub that we are.”

Porter said the county originally wanted a big-box store to purchase the land. Porter said that might not be possible. Porter said residential developments may have to be added as a target, but he is still hopeful for a large retailer.

“They worked really hard. The company did great,” Porter said. “They had lots of folks looking at it and everything, but sometimes in retail it moves really slow with these big-box stores like we’re trying to get in. We’re still hopeful that is going to happen but not with that company that had the option.”

Porter said he has re-advertised the land with three developers already interested. Porter said several companies remain interested in constructing at the site off of Veterans Drive.

“I would love to get something worked out between now and the August Commission meeting, but you never know,” Porter said. “There’s no deadline on when we have to have it done.”

In June 2021, the Putnam County Commission approved selling the property for $12.42 million on the condition that the developer come to terms with a major retail store. Porter said he thinks that the timing of the tornado, pandemic and the economy also hindered the sale.

“Disappointed to some extent, but you can’t give up,” Porter said. “(…) If things kept going like they were before the pandemic and tornado, I think it would have already sold. Just a little bit of bad timing, but I’m a firm believer that everything works out the way it’s supposed to.”

Porter said there is no rush to sell since the county does not anticipate construction at the new fairgrounds for another year. Porter said the money from selling the fairgrounds would be used to develop the new Tennessee Avenue site.


The post Option On Fairgrounds Expires, Putnam Searching For New Developer appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.