Nashvile Post editor Geert De Lombaerde and reporter J.R. Lind recently sat down with Wood Caldwell of Southeast Venture, Ashlyn Hines Meneguzzi of Bristol Development, Thomas McDaniel of Boyle Investment and Michael Rankin of Crain Construction to discuss Nashville's recent surge in commercial real estate. As you may or may not know, Boyle is the developer on the much anticipated North Gulch project (centered on Charlotte & 11th Avenues). Some excerpts from their discussion:
DE LOMBAERDE: Michael, do you see any other emerging markets?
RANKIN: One that’s coming back that may not be on everyone’s radar is the Crossings, that Southeast corridor around Hickory Hollow and Cane Ridge. There’s good opportunity, there’s space, infrastructure. I think in the next decade, you’ll see some great growth there. HCA just made a big investment out there with their data center.
HINES: What will naturally happen with housing — apartments in particular — is that, when you can’t do sites in the Gulch, then you move down to 11 North. Then you have 1700 Midtown [near Baptist Hospital]. So that opens up Charlotte Avenue.
DE LOMBAERDE: Right. HINES: You’ve got Germantown, too, so it kind of opens up little areas that you’d never think. All it takes is one person
to do something of any size in an area like that and it starts to turn the whole area. DE
LOMBAERDE: It’s a real domino effect.
HINES: I mean, who would have ever thought the backside of Division would get developed? Look what is happening there and how that segues into Eighth and 12th.
MCDANIEL: You know, the 11 North project you mentioned was a big surprise to me. DE
LOMBAERDE: How does that influence what you want to do with the land you’ve assembled on the other side of Charlotte?
MCDANIEL: We’re trying to figure out what to do with this North Gulch land. It’s a great assemblage and has great proximity to everything, but it was not the first thing on everybody’s development radar. Then these guys come in with this significant apartment development right there that has garnered some of the top rents in the city...
HINES: That’s a classic example of somebody from out of town in my opinion looking at Nashville with a blank slate. They can come in and look at that and say wait a minute this is a good site and they hit a home run. It’s a great project.
RANKIN: You know I have sort of a weird affection for Charlotte and 11 North sort of opened up Charlotte here. I think we all kind of perceive Charlotte in a certain way and I think it has a lot of character. I think it’s sort of —
HINES: Very quirky.
LIND: I think Charlotte just got branded as a way to get from Bellevue to downtown and that’s all it was.
RANKIN: Yeah. Could we go that way? Is Charlotte the next big corridor?
CALDWELL: We’ve got the 28th Avenue Connector. That sat on Purcell’s desk for eight years and all a sudden...
HINES: When that opens, everything from that connector into the North Gulch and Germantown will become prime development opportunities.
CALDWELL: Yeah, it’ll all come together. That’s another big prime opportunity. DE
LOMBAERDE: Thomas, what’s your all’s time frame for the North Gulch project? Is it a matter of finding the right
tenants or do you look at other benchmarks along the way?
MCDANIEL: We have completed the assemblage. We finally got the last piece that we didn’t own. We’re demolishing everything now to have a clean slate and we have had surprisingly high interest from users of all types. It’s a little different site. It’s not a pure office site in the middle of The Gulch. It’s not the first apartment or condo or hotel site you think of, but we have seen some great interest. It’s a large land assemblage right where it is and I think we’re going to have an announcement soon on a good part of that and hopefully more to follow. We’ll see.
DE LOMBAERDE: Do you want it to be mixed-use?
MCDANIEL: It will be mixed use to some degree and we have an idea of we want for it. But at the same time, the users may push us in one direction or the other.
DE LOMBAERDE: OK.
MCDANIEL: I was going to mention Charlotte, honestly. I think the whole corridor is going much more westward than the site we’re talking.
DE LOMBAERDE: That’s a good point about Charlotte. You think the connector is a good way from downtown, but it really isn’t.
MCDANIEL: No, it isn’t.
CALDWELL: It’s 10 or 12 blocks. You know it’s a short strip that can really get built up.
MCDANIEL: And HCA is already developing that corner in conjunction with Metro.
CALDWELL: Yeah, because that’s the only downside with a lot of other areas that we’ve mentioned. With the 12 Souths and your Eighth Souths of the world, there’s only a narrow strip of commercially zoned property. So for there to be any magnitude of commercial critical mass, you need something that’s bigger. There are large land sites on Charlotte that are hard to find on any other accessible arterial with that proximity to town.