Franklin developer, CU trustee would lead Corner project ‘at no cost’

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An architectural rendering of a portion of Franklin’s Harpeth Square development, a project led by Cumberland University Board of Trust member Roderick Heller III.

Should a controversial measure that would see Lebanon donate $850,000 to Cumberland University receive the approval of city councilors tomorrow, Roderick Heller III, a CU board member and the developer behind Franklin’s $105 million Harpeth Square development, says he would lead the development of Cumberland Corner at no charge.

“I would be pleased to work on behalf of Cumberland, but only on the basis that I not be paid,” Heller, chairman and CEO of Franklin-based Carnton Capital Associates and Harpeth Associates LLC told The Wilson Post.

Heller is currently overseeing the development of Harpeth Square in Franklin. The mixed-use development broke ground last October and will see luxury apartments, a parking garage and a four-story boutique hotel added to downtown Franklin.

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The Harpeth Square project was funded primarily through local investors and Heller’s friends and family.

“One reason I’ve said I’d be glad to help (with Cumberland Corner) is that we’ve just gone through financing for our Franklin project … we have assembled a very good team,” he said. “We have a Middle Tennessee focus. We are not backed by Wall Street. All of the equity I’ve arranged myself from friends and family.”

While Heller said he would lead the development at no cost to the university, he noted he would plan to use architectural and engineering services from companies based in Franklin and Nashville.

“We have an existing team that’s done the (Harpeth Square) job,” he said.

As estimates regarding the cost of a project such as Cumberland Corner, which would house approximately 200 students along with some mixed retail, have ranged from $10 million to $25 million, Heller said it would be difficult to nail down the exact number until plans for the project make more headway.

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“The central question is cost per unit. No one can project even roughly the cost of the project until its size and composition have been determined,” Heller explained, although he noted estimates between $15 and $24 million were “in the ballpark.”

“In terms of the project with Cumberland, I think it’s a marvelous opportunity. Cumberland needs student housing. Cumberland is an important economic driver and, in some ways, that’s what makes the Cumberland project so appealing to me,” he added. “I think this will have a very positive effect on downtown Lebanon because it enhances the status of a major employer.”

Heller

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