Along with a healthy economic picture, job growth and rebounding real estate, Rutherford County is building a reputation for its verdant mix of amenities and attractions, character and culture.
These days, a healthy economic picture with significant job growth might be reason enough to draw prospective residents and businesses to a community. Rutherford County has all that – and much more. It ranks among the largest counties in the United States for job growth, with six consecutive quarters in the top 10. But this county’s rosy reputation also stems from a verdant mix of amenities and attractions, character and culture, historic roots and forward motion.
A moderate climate, low cost of living, and low crime and unemployment rates represent just a few of the factors that contribute to Rutherford County’s quality of life. It also boasts excellent schools and health care, earning national accolades from Bloomberg Businessweek, which placed Murfreesboro among the Best Places to Raise Your Kids, and U.S. News & World Report, which named Smyrna as one of the Best Places to Retire.
Rising Real Estate Market
What’s more, the real estate market is rebounding locally.
“The average home sales price for the year has now reached a high level of consistency around $175,000, and the days on the market have gone down about 8 percent, so that’s good for the seller,” says Candy Joyce, association executive for the Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors. “In 2013, we had an 18 percent increase in residential sales units over 2012. We’re just about back to those 2005 to 2006 annual sales numbers, so we’re very excited.”
The outlook is good for buyers as well. Forbes magazine ranked the Nashville-Murfreesboro-Franklin MSA fourth nationwide on its list of Best Buy Cities for 2014.
“We’ve got several new construction starts at all different price points, from starter homes to top-end properties, which I think speaks well for our builders looking at the diversity of our marketplace,” Joyce adds. Up-and-coming areas include neighborhoods west of I-24 near Cason Lane and historic properties in downtown Murfreesboro.
Restaurant, Retail Growth
Growth in restaurant and retail markets is also keeping pace.
Rutherford County’s 350-plus restaurants encompass local independents and national chains, serving up something for everyone.
A regional icon with four locations, the flagship Demos’ restaurant opened in Murfreesboro in 1989. Owner Peter Demos recently expanded the family legacy with the spring 2014 opening of Peter D’s, an upscale, casual eatery with a rustic urban feel, located on Medical Center Parkway.
“The menu is very diverse, ranging from seafood-topped salmon with a citrus buerre blanc to a peanut butter and bacon sandwich,” Demos says. “We want to hit that different range of taste.”
As to the industry as a whole, Demos notes, “I think it has a tremendous amount to do with the region’s quality of life. A lot of the smaller independents are coming in, giving people more opportunities to eat out and try different foods.”
For shopping, The Avenue® – the largest open-air lifestyle center in the state – and the Stones River Mall, which underwent a complete remodel in 2008, feature department stores, national brands and fashion-forward retailers.
An array of antique stores and independent boutiques round out the retail options. In downtown Murfreesboro on the square, the Main Street Saturday Market, a Tennessee-based farmers market, runs June through October.
“We have this eclectic mix downtown of trendy retail shops, vibrant nightlife – it’s pretty much a 24/7 square now,” says Kathleen Herzog, director of Main Street Murfreesboro.
Popular Festivals, Attractions
Main Street JazzFest, named one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast for May 2014 by the Southeast Tourism Society, brings the community and visitors alike to the square in May, and the Friday Night Live concert series downtown is popular all summer. Just blocks away at Cannonsburgh Village, Uncle Dave Macon Days draws about 30,000 attendees each July. Smyrna also hosts Music at the Mill at Gregory Mill Park.
Other area attractions include the Historic Sam Davis Home and Plantation and the Stones River National Battlefield, which draws 260,000 visitors annually, as well as recreational draws like The Ascent indoor rock climbing facility and numerous greenways, parks and golf courses. A new six-hole golf course, Bloomfield Links, opened recently at Old Fort Park, where the Kids’ Castle playground has been renovated and new indoor tennis courts are in the works.