Nissan moving to Franklin, TN
For Nissan Motor Co., a site in Cool Springs offered enough land and a highly visible location on a major thoroughfare to qualify for its new North American headquarters.
Matt Kisber, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, said those were two of Nissan’s specifications for a new location.
Another was amenities around the campus, ex-pected to cost $70 million to build and to include 400,000-500,000 square feet of office space, Kisber said.
The campus would be on roughly 50 acres inside developer Crescent Resources’ 277 acres of undeveloped land along the east side of Interstate 65 in Franklin, not far from CoolSprings Galleria.
The site is next to Corporate Centre, the roughly 1 million-square-foot office park that Crescent developed in the late 1990s and early part of the current decade.
Jim Morton, Nissan North America’s senior vice president of administration, said that when the company was looking at sites, it wasn’t thinking about county lines.
“It was the physical site,” Morton said from the company’s Gardena, Calif., headquarters. “We were definitely interested in the interstate frontage.”
Janet Miller, economic development chief of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, added, “It’s not that easy to find a 50-acre, class triple-A site that is vacant.”
She added that the Cool Springs area in Franklin is an established headquarters location. The area already is home to Primus, an arm of Ford Motor Credit Co. that employs more than 1,500 people, as well as several other national companies, including Clarcor Inc., an industrial filter maker that moved from Rockford, Ill., last year.
Embassy Suites and Marriott have hotels and conference centers there.
Pat Emery, Crescent’s regional vice president, said there are about 100 restaurants in the Cool Springs area. The retail area across I-65 from Corporate Centre is anchored by CoolSprings Galleria.
“We would have loved to had it in Rutherford County,” said Holly Sears, director of economic development for the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce. “But it’s great for the region.”
Rutherford County’s goal is to create a better environment for corporate office headquarters with its Gateway project. Gateway is a 350-acre area being developed by Murfreesboro and private developers and anchored in part by the Middle Tennessee Medical Center.
The state offered a variety of potential sites, said Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s president and chief executive officer.
The company started with 12, Kisber said, adding that those were whittled to four and then to two. Neither Kisber nor the company would specify which other sites the company considered.
Emery said he had been working directly with Nissan for a year and a half. He was in the dark about a decision on his site until yesterday morning.
“I had suspicions when I was invited to the press conference,” he said.
Deed restrictions prevented Crescent and others from putting signs on office buildings. That is not the case on the property where Nissan will go. That property is separately deeded and doesn’t have such restrictions.
Emery said that means Nissan will be the only company for a while that may have its name on the buildings.
After he was invited to the press conference, Emery asked the new Nissan dealership nearby in Cool Springs if he could borrow a Nissan truck, which he parked on the future site of the company’s North American headquarters.
Nissan arrived around 1 p.m. yesterday and installed a sign on the site indicating it is the future location of Nissan North America.