Mark Pirtle, key Murfreesboro Gateway area developer, dies – Daily News Journal

Mourners of Mark Pirtle remember him for his successful commercial real estate development and philanthropy in Murfreesboro.
Pirtle was 70 when he died Monday night, said his brother Mike Pirtle, the former executive editor and general manager of The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro.
Woodfin Funeral Chapel in Murfreesboro is handling the arrangements with visitation from 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday at 1488 Lascassas Pike. The service will be at 1 p.m. Friday at World Outreach Church, 1921 New Salem Road, Murfreesboro.
Mark Pirtle had a successful career as car dealer, including in Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, Cookeville and Jackson in addition to over $400 million in real estate development projects over his career in many locations in Middle Tennessee, said John Harney, a friend and business partner for more than 35 years.
“He was a like a brother to me,” Harney said. “He was a wonderful man. Mark was an extraordinary entrepreneur in the car business but more so in the real estate development business.”
Pirtle had the vision to develop a large portion of the commercial real estate in the city’s Gateway area off Medical Center Parkway that surrounds Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital, Harney said.
Harney recalled Mark Pirtle around 2005 competing with two other developers, a national one and a regional one, on buying Medical Center Parkway property through a Murfreesboro Gateway Commission recommendation to the City Council to develop a Class A corporate office building.
While the competitors wanted to start construction with a condition of getting 65% of the office spaces preleased, Pirtle told city officials that he and his partners would break ground in three months.
“Mark and his partners got the deal to build it,” Harney said.
What followed was StoneGate Corporate Center, a 92,000-square-foot building that was the first and initially the largest in the Gateway area dedicated to attract white-collar jobs. Many referred to the development as the “Pirtle Building.” The property in December sold to a medical investment company, Harney said.
Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland also praised Mark Pirtle’s “instrumental” efforts to develop the Gateway area by the hospital.
“You can look throughout the community, especially the Gateway area, and see where Mark was a visionary to go out and try something in that area that had never been done,” McFarland said. “He could take ownership of a project or an idea, and Mark was relentless to push things across the finish line.”
The mayor also appreciates Pirtle’s encouragement to others to succeed in business.
“Mark was always available to meet with any young entrepreneur or meet with any young business owner to share knowledge and ideas,” said McFarland, who owns a home-building business that’s never been in partnership with Pirtle.
“The cool thing about Mark was Mark was always known as a deal maker,” McFarland added.
The mayor noted that Pirtle always remained loyal to McMinnville where Pirtle grow up and served on a bank board with McFarland.
“He was real true to his hometown,” McFarland said. “Mark at heart was a small town boy and wanted to see his hometown of McMinnville still be successful.”
McFarland met Pirtle even before winning a seat on the Murfreesboro City Council in 2006 prior to becoming mayor in 2014.
“Mark was the first person to ever encourage me to run for city council 20 years ago,” McFarland recalled. “Mark was not only committed to Murfreesboro being a great place to run a business but wanted Murfreesboro to be a very livable place.”
Mark Pirtle was known to be a generous and humble donor of time and money to non-profit organizations, including charities and health care services, the mayor said.
“He was really a champion for a lot of different organizations throughout the community,” McFarland said.
Pirtle and his wife, Anita, for example, donated property for the former office of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce near the northeast corner of Northwest Broad Street and Memorial Boulevard. The chamber relocated to the Gateway area off Medical Center Parkway and Interstate 24. The former office today serves the American Red Cross office at 501 Memorial Blvd. The property had been part of a previous State Farm regional office before Pirtle redeveloped the busy intersection corner area for commercial office and retail spaces, including for restaurant and banking uses, Harney recalled.
“Mark and Anita were always looking for ways to better the lives of the people around them and worthy organizations, and promote our community,” Harney said. “Mark and Anita were very generous to a lot of people and good causes.”
The chamber of commerce idea emerged after Pirtle and Harney had met with representatives of a corporate office relocation prospect in an old log home in the city’s Cannonsburgh Village, a city recreational location that offers a collection of buildings from the 1830s through 1930s.
Harney recalled Pirtle saying after the meeting that the city needed to project a different image to attract a corporation than a log cabin, which was at the time was the location of the chamber of commerce office.
“He had foresight like that on a number of occasions,” said Harney, recalling that Pirtle would say we need to do something “and then he would follow through with it.”
In addition to providing the property for the former chamber building, Mark Pirtle in 2017 donated 13 acres to Murfreesboro for a lake park connected to the Stones River that was part of property where he was developing apartments and retail off New Salem Road and Warrior Drive.
Mark Pirtle has earned deserved recognition from the chamber of commerce. He had served as a former chamber chairman before the organization gave him a businessman of the year award and a business legends award, Harney said.
The chamber today also honors Mark Pirtle by using his name for its economic development center.
Pirtle also at times had been kidded about being a short man.
“Mark might have been short in stature, but he was a giant in personality,” Harney said. “He was one of the most positive people I have ever been around.”
Reach reporter Scott Broden with news tips or questions by emailing him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ScottBroden. To support his work with The Daily News Journal, sign up for a digital subscription for all stories


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