​Sewanee Village: Highlights, Historical Perspective, Future Topics

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Feb. 6 Sewanee Village update meeting, Special Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor Frank Gladu highlighted and gave historical perspective on the five priority projects. He also wanted to identify the “deep dive” topics—aspects of the plan residents wanted more information about.
Of the projects slated for completion by 2022, graduation year for next fall’s incoming freshman class, Gladu pointed to relocation of the bookstore to downtown as having the most “momentum.” The current bookstore needed to “vacate” the space selected for the University Health and Wellness Center “for the Health and Wellness Center to materialize,” Gladu explained. With the bookstore design underway and moving from the conceptual into the schematic phase, Gladu projected having construction documents by this summer and gave a completion date of spring 2019.
Asked if Barnes and Noble would operate the new bookstore, Gladu said, Barnes and Noble would continue in the capacity of a “collegiate” bookstore operating “in the space we give them.”
At the other end of the momentum spectrum, Gladu cited the Village Green proposed for the site now occupied by the Sewanee Market. Before the Sewanee Market can close, the proposed mixed-use building housing a grocery and residences need to be built, Gladu explained. “There’s a developer very interested in the project,” he said. The type of residences on the top two stories would be up to the developer, with both apartments and condominiums a possibility. Similarly, identifying a grocery operator would be up to the developer. The current market owners have “expressed an interest” in operating the grocery, according to Gladu.
Addressing a housing concern, Gladu insisted he favored only primary residents being allowed to own or lease residences in the downtown village, with no second-home residents. Lease policy states only University employees can build, Gladu said. Most of the proposed housing in the Village called for multi-family dwellings, the exception being a few lots in Parson’s Green and on Castleberry Drive, and the Cottage Court housing proposed for Prince Lane.
Gladu described the Cottage Court homes as having a “near-zero” lot line and ranging from 800 to 1,500 square feet in size, with two story homes possible. Identified as a “wet weather conveyance,” the Prince Lane tract posed challenges, Gladu conceded. “Building will likely be on higher ground around the brow of the property.”
Gladu reassured concerned residents the large tulip poplar tree on the tract would not be cut down. He speculated lack of competition for light and “perhaps the wetness” contributed to the impressive circumference of the tree.
Outside the 250-acres designated as multi-use by the Sewanee Village Plan, the University’s long-range plan calls for single-family dwellings only, Gladu noted, with the potential for 80-120 half-acre building sites.
Another front-burner project, redesign of the Hwy. 41A intersection, called for reducing traffic flow to two lanes “with a few strategic turn lanes,” Gladu said. As a state route, the one-and-half mile project falls under the jurisdiction of the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Traffic flow did not warrant a stop light, according to Gladu, but a pedestrian activated crosswalk is likely.
Asked about the earlier plan for a roundabout at the Highway 41A and University Ave. intersection, Gladu said investigation into the idea revealed “roundabouts were good at keeping traffic moving, but were not pedestrian friendly.”
Gladu hosts Sewanee Village updates on the first Tuesday of each month at the Blue Chair at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Topics identified for future discussions include parking, fiber optic internet service in the Village, the Village as a “visitor destination,” children friendly space, retention of trees and wooded areas, a community garden, and results from the marketing, housing, and storm water studies being undertaken by the University.