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VIProfile: Bill Jakes




By Sadie Fowler

A local history buff at heart, Murfreesboro native Bill Jakes has a passion for architectural preservation and restoration — and all things downtown. In fact, Jakes has lived downtown, with his wife and their children, for 14 years. After working in construction for 15 years, Jakes began a career in real estate in 2010. Last year, in March, he became owner and principal broker of Bill Jakes Realty.

“I bring all this experience to the table in my real estate business,” said Jakes, a husband, father and native of Murfreesboro. “The thing I love most about downtown is the diverse makeup of the community. We have amazing neighbors and friends within the block where we live.”

The family’s favorite types of days unfold often with their lives downtown. Nothing compares to walking to the Saturday market for fresh local produce, followed by grabbing breakfast at Simply Pure or Puckett’s, followed by a visit to Trendy Pieces or Binks for shopping.

“An outing isn’t complete without an ice cream at Frozen Treats from Mars — their Lemon Icebox is amazing,” Jakes laughed. “Being able to enjoy all these conveniences within a short stroll from home is one of the major things that makes downtown living so enjoyable.”

Jakes is looking forward to summer months where they can enjoy Jazz Fest and Friday night concerts downtown. When the family can’t make it, they are glad they can hear the music from their backyard at home.

Jakes described downtown as undergoing major changes the last few years. The new judicial building has changed the skyline and the bridge over Broad is already up and running. The new parking garage at Lytle and Maple has created 360 new parking spaces.

“There are many more restaurants, shopping and music venues to enjoy than in previous years,” he said. “The square has become more of a destination
than ever before.”

So many things are positive in the downtown area these days; things like entertainment and
dining options, as well as homes downtown being valued higher per square foot than any other area in Murfreesboro. With any growth comes challenges.

“We are definitely experiencing traffic problems and an increase in accidents at confusing two-way stops,” Jakes said. “And the demand for real estate has made it more challenging than ever before to find a home downtown.”

What’s ahead for downtown? Jakes predicts upward — literally — growth is just around the corner. He hopes the Old Methodist Church property will be the next high-rise buildings to add to the Murfreesboro skyline. Also, the area recently dubbed The Bottoms in city studies will likely follow as the next hotbed for high-rise structures with high-density housing and mixed use retail.

“One of the greatest challenges I’m currently seeing downtown is the lack of available housing,” Jakes said. “Home buyers and renters alike are wanting to be a part of the downtown community but availability is limited.”

The huge demand has caused prices to soar. Jakes said he’s hopeful some relief is on its way to the downtown housing demand that will make the downtown economy even stronger.

“If plans for the Old Methodist Church property move forward, we will see another major construction project break ground that is proposed to bring a 100-room hotel and 50 or more condos along with mixed-use and retail.

One of the main reasons people flock to a downtown community is for the conveniences it offers, including being able to walk to most places. But in Murfreesboro, Jakes said, cars still rule and traffic will continue to get more congested as density increases.

“One of the major issues downtown currently is the variety of stop signs changing from four-way to two-way stops,” he said. “Many of our intersections downtown are confusing to newcomers and I believe the city will soon need to convert most intersections downtown to four-way stops. This should add some consistency as well as potentially slow some of the
traffic that speeds through our downtown community.”

Some people might not know Jakes is the founder and administrator of a local Facebook group called Downtown Dwellers. It’s a group with more than 9000 members that has a goal of creating a more informed and connected downtown community.

Jakes also loves photography and once had a photo displayed at The Frist museum in Nashville. He published a history book about Murfreesboro in 2006 that featured postcards of Murfreesboro he’s collected. His passion for Civil War history also drives him to collect Civil War artifacts, including bullets, during his spare time.

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