Sunday, December 15, 2013

Nashville's downtown to change faster than ever

I’ve always been fascinated with architecture and central city layouts.  As a youngster, I spent many a Saturday wandering around downtown Columbus, OH taking notes and sketching various structures.  I enjoyed the classic lines of the white limestone State Capitol, but was equally enticed by new highrise bank buildings, and urban renewal tracts.  I read Architecture Digest, and would work for hours on my own designs for public and private sector buildings, boulevards, parks, and stadia. 

Hence, I considered myself a bit of an amateur city planner, taking note of new projects and plans in whatever metropolis I have lived in.  Being a proud citizen of Nashville for a quarter century now, I have watched as our downtown area has made some significant changes.

In the 80s into the early 90s we saw the initial Nashville Convention Center, the Fifth Third Center and US Bank towers, Renaissance Hotel, Double Tree Hotel, James K. Polk Bldg. (including Tennessee Performing Arts Center), One Nashville Place, Nashville City Center, two state office buildings along James Robertson Parkway, and the Church Street Shopping Mall built.

The true boom really began around 1994.  In the past eighteen years or so, there has been a remarkable expansion that has rendered photos of the downtown area before that era nearly unrecognizable.  Consider all these changes:

·      Bridgestone Arena. 18,500 capacity. Home of Nashville Predators NHL hockey team and 100 other concerts/events per year.
·      LP Field. 70,000 capacity. Home of Tennessee Titans NFL team.
·      Bicentennial Mall State Park
·      Downtown Library (built on the site of the former Church Street Mall)
·      Schermerhorn Symphony Hall
·      Country Music Hall of Fame
·      Gateway Bridge
·      Music City Center (new convention center)
·      Davidson County Justice Building
·      AT&T Center, aka “The Batman Building” (40 stories, tallest in state at 617 feet)
·      The Hilton Hotel  (13 stories)
·      Omni Hotel (23 stories)
·      Baker Donaldson Building (11 stories)
·      Sun Trust Plaza (13 stories)
·      Cumberland Apartments (28 stories)
·      Encore Condominiums (21 stories)
·      Veridian Condominiums (35 stories)
·      Icon Condominiums (22 stories)
·      Terrazzo Condominiums (14 stories)
·      The Pinnacle Place (30 stories)
·      Hyatt Place Hotel (11 stories)
·      Music City Central Metro Transit Terminal
·      New Greyhound Bus Station
·      Musicians Hall of Fame into first level of Municipal Auditorium
·      Nashville Rescue Mission (conversion from old Sears Building)
·      Farmers Market remodeling
·      Frist Center for the Arts (conversion from US Post Office Bldg.)
·      Davidson County Courthouse remodeling
·      Public Square Park (with 4 level garage underneath)
·      Hall of Fame Park (with 4 level garage underneath)
·      Korean Veterans Blvd. (KVB)
·      Roundabout at 8th Ave., Lafayette Ave., and KVB
·      Ryman Auditorium remodeling
·      War Memorial Auditorium remodeling
·      Cummins Station remodeling
·      Stahlman Building remodeling into condos
·      Shelby Street Bridge remodeled into pedestrian walkway
·      Riverfront Park upgrades
·      Cumberland River Park
·      Bridge Building remodeling
·      Numerous other smaller apartment/condo buildings and remodels in The Gulch
·      Broadway revitalization with many new restaurants and shops
·      2nd Avenue revitalization
·      Rutledge Hill revitalization
·      Marathon Village revitalization
·      Germantown revitalization

As impressive as all of that is, consider that in the next five years, downtown Nashville will see the most construction in its history that will radically change the look, feel, and function of the city…

·      505 Church Street Tower. 60 stories, 750 feet. Corner of 5th Ave. and Commerce St. Mixture of offices, condos, and hotel. Plus 700 car garage.

·      Sheet Music Tower, 44 stories, 500 feet tall. Corner of 4th Ave. and Demonbreun St. Mixture of offices and condos.  600 car garage.

·      SoBro Apartment Tower. 33 stories, 400 feet tall.  Primarily apartments, with some retail, restaurants.  Plus 500 car garage (Two renderings below).

·      Westin Hotel. 30 stories. 410 feet, 8th/KVB Roundabout .  Plus 400 car garage.  A couple of restaurants. No artist renderings yet.

·      Adelcia Condo Tower. 23 stories. 270 ft. tall.  Corner of 12th Ave. and Demonbreun St.. in the Gulch. All condos.  Plus 400 car garage.

·      NCC Site Tower. 28 stories. 380 ft. tall.  Corner of Broadway and 5th Avenue (site of old convention center).  Mix of offices, condos, entertainment, restaurants.  Also will include African American Music Museum, and House of Blues Club.

·      Crescent Apartment Building. 20 stories. 250 feet tall.  Corner of Division St. and I-65. All apartments.  Plus 300 car garage. No artist renderings yet.

·      Hyatt Hotel. 17 stories.  250 feet tall. Corner of Broadway and 3rd Avenue.  A couple of restaurants. Plus 300 car garage.

·      Marriott Hotel. 15 stories, 200 feet tall. Corner of 8th Avenue and Demonbreun St.  Couple of restaurants. 250 car garage.

·      Gulch Crossing Office Bldg. 10 stories, 130 feet tall. Corner of Demonbreun and 11th Ave. in The Gulch.  Plus 300 car garage. 

·      Four Seasons Hotel. 10 stories. 150 feet tall.  In the Gulch (site still being negotiated). Plus 200 car garage. No artist rendering yet.

·      Hilton Garden Inn Hotel. 12 stories. 170 feet tall. Corner of 2nd Ave. and KVB. Plus 200 car garage.

·      12th and Laurel Apartments. 12 stories. 150 feet tall. Corner of 12th Ave. and Laurel St. in The Gulch.  Plus 200 car garage.

·      Marriott Residence Inn. 14 stories. 180 feet tall.  Corner of 5th Ave. and KVB. Plus 200 car garage. No artist renderings yet.

·      Spring Hill Suites. 12 stories. 150 feet tall. Corner of 5th Ave. and KVB.  Plus 200 car garage. No artist renderings yet.

·      Sulpher Dell Baseball Stadium.  Home of Nashville Sounds AAA baseball team. 10,000 capacity. Corner of 5th and Jackson St. Plus 1,000 car garage.

·      Sulpher Dell Stadium Apartments. Corner of 3rdth and Jackson.  Plus 200 car garage. (see layout above)

·      Sulpher Dell Stadium district development. Corners of 3rd, 4th, 5th and Harrison.  Numerous restaurants, clubs, and shops. (see layout above)

·      Gulch/SoBro Pedestrian Bridge. 600 feet long, 30 feet wide, with 160 foot tall suspension tower. From Pine Street in Gulch, over railroad yard into Clark St. Will include foliage, benches, bike paths, shops, and elevators at both ends.

·      New Tennessee State Museum. Corner of 6th Ave. and Harrison. Plus 200 car garage. No artist renderings yet.

·      New Tennessee State Library.  Corner of 6th Ave. and Jackson St. Plus 200 car garage. No artist renderings yet.

·      Riverfront Amphitheater and Park. Capacity of 2,000 to 8,000 for seasonal concerts, events. Corner of 1st Ave. and KVB.

·      Stix Art Sculpture in Roundabout at KVB and 8th Ave. 90 feet tall, and internally lit at night.

Beyond these that are in the formal planning stage, I also see further changes on the immediate horizon:

·      Several more major hotels in the blocks immediately around the Music City Center, especially along KVB and around the 8th Ave/KVB/Lafayette St. Roundabout.

·      SoBro, especially along First Avenue opposite of the new Riverfront Amphitheater, and on the three other corners at KVB should have major structures in place by 2020.

·      The East Bank of the Cumberland River should also finally see relocation of the scrap metal recycling plant, opening up a huge 500 acre area for housing, retail, and entertainment which could include a boat marina, continuation of Cumberland River Park, big box retail outfits like Ikea, condominiums, restaurant park, cycling velodrome, etc.

·      The large 200 acre tract at corner of Charlotte Ave. and I-40/65 has now been completely cleared.  Something large is going to be announced soon.  Could it be a massive complex for HCA?  Could it be The Gulch North? One thing is certain, it is valuable property with great access, and it will end up having as much impact on the northwest side of downtown as the Gulch did for the southwest sector.

·      Jefferson Street corridor revitalization brought on by Sulpher Dell Ballpark, apartments, and new Tennessee State Library and Museum.

·      Rutledge Hill, Germantown, Marathon Village, and Gulch revitalization continuing with multiple additional apartment and condo buildings, homes, duplexes, restaurants, and shops.

Additionally, just outside the inner-belt that surrounds downtown, there are numerous other neighborhoods that will see continued development:

·      Midtown (just west of downtown along Broadway and West End Ave.) as had a spike of construction in the past decade.  That will continue with the Summit Center (featuring 24 and 18 story towers and garages), the 19 story tall 1505 Demonbreun Apartments, The Buckingham Complex (14 story hotel, 18 story condo, 10 story offices at 21st Ave. and Broadway), more mid-size and small hotels, and high end restaurants.

·      8th Avenue South and 12 South will continue adding more condos, apartments, retail and restaurants, along with the continued housing boom (remodels and rebuilds)

·      East Nashville’s Main/Woodland Corridor leading out to Five Points. More condos and apartments, retail, restaurants, churches, and continued housing boom (remodels and rebuilds).

·      Metro Center continues its decades long growth with more corporate headquarters,  auto sales/service, education elements, and entertainment.

·      Fisk Univ./Meharry Hospital area along Jefferson Street will continue its revitalization with more apartments, retail, and entertainment, and housing remodels and rebuilds.

·      The J. Henry Hale Housing Development 10 square blocks along the western edge of I-64/40 and Charlotte Ave. will continue to grow, bringing in more retail and businesses.

·      Belmont University shows no signs of slowing down, and could become Nashville’s largest university (jumping past Vandy) within a few years.  This means continued purchasing in area neighborhoods and constructing additional educational and service structures, as well as even more dormitories.

·      Vanderbilt is not finished either.  Both on the collegiate and medical center sides. 

·      Travecca University is also growing, but not at quite the same pace.  A few new structures will be built there. 

Other areas in the center city that will see significant attention in the next 5 years:

·      Greer Stadium Site (soon to be former home of the minor league baseball team). Could become part of a Civil War Museum complex to go along with the recently renovated Fort Negly on the hill immediately next to it.  Some think it may become a high tech business park.  Others think it could be trendy housing for the arts district that is developing a few blocks away.

·      Old State Fairgrounds site.  This has been debated for the past decade.  But movement will finally happen within the next half decade.  My guess is that it will be a mixed use site of high tech, condos, apartments, and some retail/restaurant.

·      North Cumberland stretch along the river from Woodland Ave. up to Spring St.  This is all industrial warehousing now, but the views of downtown are spectacular along here, and I see some high rise condos, apartments, and other upgrades in the not-to-distant future.  Perhaps even a major league baseball stadium in the next ten to fifteen years?

All in all, in the next half-decade there are going to be more construction cranes, cement trucks, road detours, and hardhats within a two mile radius of The Ryman than Music City has ever seen before. Some may bemoan it, but I, for one, am very bullish on what all this means for our city and its future.  


  1. Group Selected to Develop Nashville Convention Center Into Retail, Office Space


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