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Business Pulse - Planet Fitness on the horizon?
Serenity Thrift.jpg
After being vacant for nearly two years, a new tenant appears interested in the old Serenity Thrift building at Northgate Center. Is it Planet Fitness?

Hastings is one of my all-time favorite stores. For those who may not remember, Hastings offered a unique mix of music, movies, books and more. It was like a one-stop shop for everything fun.

It’s been over eight years since our Hasting’s at Northgate Center closed in March 2013, leaving most everyone with just a touch of sadness.

Two years later in May 2015, Serenity Thrift moved into the building and tried to provide new life with old clothes. Serenity Thrift managed to stay in business for more than four years before closing its doors in November 2019.

Now, after nearly two years of quiet vacancy, a new tenant appears on the horizon for the old Hastings building. Property manager Ray Martin confirmed on Wednesday that a new tenant is very much interested in the building, but he stressed a lease has not been signed.

Ray said he didn’t want to comment until he has a signed lease in hand, which is completely understandable. Deals collapse all the time, often at the last minute.

From what I hear, and this is simply word on the street which may or may not be true, the company interested in that spot is Planet Fitness. According to the Planet Fitness website, the company touts itself as a great workout facility at an affordable price.

There are Planet Fitness locations in Tullahoma, Cookeville, Murfreesboro Shelbyville, Smyrna, and Crossville, so McMinnville would seem to be a logical spot too. The company reports it has more than 2,000 locations, which means it must be doing something right.

From a personal standpoint, I love the idea of greater fitness. Good health is a powerful tool so let’s hope Planet Fitness can bring greater wellness to our community.

Editor’s Note: If Planet Fitness is not the business interested in the old Hastings building, please disregard the previous report.

Apollo ready

To launch

Business news keeps showering down on Warren County like candy falling from a piñata. We’re getting a new hotel for the first time in 30 years, a Fazoli’s is on the way, and even a new Dollar General is gracing our presence on Smithville Highway.

To borrow a T-shirt phrase, life is good.

More big news is on the way. The old Aquatech building on Red Road has a new tenant in Apollo Medical Solutions. Signs have gone up and the company hopes to be operational by the end of the year.

It will be a manufacturing facility that will be looking to hire new employees very soon. I understand Apollo will be advertising those jobs right here in the Southern Standard so you won’t have to look far to find out how to apply.

I talked with a company representative on Friday and was told to expect a big announcement and more details later this week. From everything I’ve heard, this is going to be a great fit for our community and give us a little diversity in our industrial base, which is automotive heavy.

The building is 137,000 square feet so it can house a pretty large-scale operation. I call it the old Aquatech building, but it’s also been home to WastAway and most recently Newell.

I will provide more information on Apollo Medical Solutions opening in Warren County as it becomes available.

Barnes joins

Galligan & Newman

The law firm of Galligan & Newman has hired a bright, young star. It’s none other than Bailey Barnes, valedictorian of the Warren County High School class of 2015.

When it comes to Bailey, you could say ambition is his middle name. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Tech just three semesters after graduating from high school. Two years later, he had his master’s degree from MTSU and this May he graduated second in his class from The University of Tennessee College of Law.

Bailey has fit right in at Galligan & Newman and is tackling his share of personal injury cases. One case coming up in November involves a Warren County resident who suffered third-degree burns when an e-cigarette exploded in his pocket. That case is being heard in Chattanooga.

“The argument will be that a manufacturer’s defect rendered the product unreasonably dangerous,” said Barnes. 

Baily was offered a job clerking for a federal judge, but decided to stay closer to home so he could be near sweetheart Larissa Lopez. They were married in September and have settled down with a house and a dog. It’s all very cozy.

Bailey has already had over a dozen articles published in legal journals and he’s scheduled to deliver an upcoming speech at the University of New Hampshire in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the war on drugs.

Bailey says he’s going to use Warren County as a template of how the war on drugs hasn’t exactly been a success.

“Mental illness and substance abuse are extremely connected,” said Bailey. “And in rural areas, mass incarceration is the only solution. If you only see drug abuse as a criminal issue, you better start building more jails." 

"If there was any evidence this strategy is working, that would be one thing," Bailey continued. "What we’re doing is not working. At a cost of $60 a day to house an inmate, that gets expensive. But most of all, it’s not working and we’re seeing the same people in jail.”

In his short time at Galligan & Newman, Bailey says he has already seen people in very trying situations. His main reason for staying in Warren County and joining the local law firm is that he wants to help.

“I’ve already seen some people in this office who have been crying because they need help,” said Bailey. “They’ve been in a car wreck and can no longer work and they have children to feed and bills to pay. That’s a very tough thing to see.”

The world is blessed with a few bright people and Bailey Barnes is one of them. Business Pulse is glad he’s returned to Warren County so he can make a difference in our community. 

Liquor store

Opens in Newtown

A project that’s been years in the making has finally reached the finish line. Sid Patel has worked his way through red tape and jumped hurdles on his way to opening a liquor store in Newtown named Hina’s Liquor & Wine. 

For those of you counting at home, McMinnville now has four (4) liquor stores.

“We have a great selection of liquor and we also have a number of craft beers,” said Sid. “It’s all at very good prices.”

Sid’s daughter Harsha Patel is running the store and she was staying on her toes Friday afternoon.

“It’s starting to get very busy here on the weekends,” said Harsha, who noted Jack Daniels is a popular beverage.

Sid said a great thing about the store is its location. For folks coming from Centertown, they don’t have to navigate through McMinnville to reach a liquor store. It’s an easy stop on the outskirts of town.

Sid is also eager to promote McMinnville Pharmacy, which is right next door to the liquor store. It is available for all your medication needs.

As I’ve noted in a previous column, Newtown is close to being a completely self-sufficient area. It has its own Dollar General and its own Mexican restaurant, two standards of Warren County life. 

Now Newtown has a pharmacy and a liquor store too. If the Board of Education would put a school in Newtown, you could make the argument that you could live your enitre life there and never leave.

Hotel not 

Ready yet

The opening date for our new Hampton Inn hotel on Sparta Street is being pushed back a few days from this Tuesday, Oct. 26, due to supply chain issues.

At Thursday’s monthly meeting of the Industrial Development Board, executive director Don Alexander said the hotel is still waiting for its linens to arrive. Not having linen makes is awfully hard for a hotel to open.

Don told IDB members everything else is ready to go, but the hotel can’t open without its bed sheets. When the linen arrives, the hotel will be able to open, perhaps as soon as this week.

I toured the new hotel earlier this month with owner David Hunt, who was very kind to take the time to show me around the property. The hotel looks like a slice of heaven, provided heaven has its own waffle maker in the breakfast area.

One thing I want to stress about our new Hampton Inn is this. It fills a glaring need for Warren County to have a more upscale hotel. I’ve written about this need for probably a decade and I’m glad to say Mr. Hunt is the only one to step to the proverbial plate and make an $11.3 million investment to get it done.

Now that Hampton Inn is just days away from opening, I’m going to turn my attention to Warren County’s next biggest need. That is nice apartments.

If we’re a community that wants to attract young residents – which we should be – we must have some nice apartments. Not all adults in their mid-20s are ready to buy a home. Some would like to stay in an apartment, even if it’s for only a year.

Hypothetically speaking, let’s say a 26-year-old has just landed a job at River Park Hospital and wants to rent an apartment in town. What apartment are you going to recommend? Umm. Umm.

When talking about economic development, the three talking points seem to be jobs, jobs, jobs. But let’s not forget about housing. There’s really no benefit to having jobs if we don’t also have a place for people to live.

That’s all folks

Halloween is one week away. Do you have your costume picked out? 

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