Welcome to the team, Brett

Brett DowneyHave you heard? Southeast Venture has added Brett Downey to our design services team. Downey joins us from the University of Tennnessee at Chattanooga where he graduated with a B.S. in interior design. While at UTC, he honed his skills at Artech, an architectural firm in Chattanooga, TN, as an intern. Downey is currently working on Eastside, a multifamily community in East Nashville.

Southeast Venture and Hardaway Construction Close on First Joint Venture: EastSide Heights Apartment Complex

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This press release was originally released on Oct. 30, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. October 30, 2015 — Southeast Venture and Hardaway Construction announced today that they have closed on a 2.19-acre property in East Nashville that will be home to a new multifamily development, EastSide Heights.

This is the first joint venture between Southeast Venture and Hardaway Construction. Southeast Venture is handling the design of EastSide Heights, while Hardaway Construction will lead construction efforts. The project will break ground Mid-November and is expected to finish Summer 2017.

“It’s no secret that East Nashville is exploding,” said Tarek El Gammal, principal at Southeast Venture. “Over 3,000 new jobs have been created recently within a mile of EastSide Heights and East Nashville is one of the city’s hottest restaurant scenes. All it’s lacking is enough high quality residential options. We believe that EastSide Heights will perfectly meet this need – and we have teamed up with the perfect builder to make it happen. In addition to an extensive portfolio of multifamily projects to its credit, Hardaway’s corporate headquarters are only a few blocks from this project. No other contractor is as qualified to build East Nashville’s marquee apartment complex. We are excited about this joint venture.”

Located at the corner of 5th Street and Woodland Street, EastSide Heights will be a Class A multifamily community with 249 one- and two-bedroom apartments and 8,000 square feet of ground floor retail space. The five-story building will offer tenants several amenities, including a resort-style swimming pool with in-pool sun deck, two landscaped courtyards, pet spa and dog walk, fitness and yoga facilities, cyber café, a 2-level sky lounge with outdoor patio and a stunning view of downtown Nashville – plus a multi-level parking garage that allows residents to park on the same level as their apartment is located.

“We are excited about this mixed-use project and teaming with Southeast Venture to bring it to our East Nashville neighborhood,” said Stan Hardaway, president of Hardaway Construction. “We couldn’t have chosen a better partner or project for our first joint venture. East Nashville provides walkability and livability that make it a top location for new residents looking for homes in the city, and this project will bring much desired housing to the area.”

About Southeast Venture

Founded in 1981, Southeast Venture is a diversified commercial real estate and design services company guided by a mission of “Building Value by Valuing Relationships.” The firm provides and coordinates the delivery of brokerage, development, architectural and interior design and property management. This unique, comprehensive approach to commercial real estate offers a cost effective and efficient way of meeting its clients’ commercial real estate needs. For more information, visit SoutheastVenture.com, or find Southeast Venture on Twitter @SEVentureCRE.

About Hardaway Construction

Hardaway Construction Corp., a third generation, family owned construction firm has been serving the construction needs of Nashville and the Southeast for 91 years. Notable local projects include the Tennessee Bicentennial Mall, Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center, Belmont University Curb Event and Beaman Student Life Centers, Metro Nashville & Davidson County Historic Courthouse Renovation, and the Vanderbilt University Freshman Commons Dining Center and School of Engineering.


Advice for Megan Barry on building a better Nashville

by Wood Caldwell

(This article originally appeared in the Tennessean on Oct. 28, 2015)

Mayor Megan Barry has assumed leadership of our great city at an auspicious time. Nashville is thriving.

But it became evident during the mayoral race that our booming economy brings with it growing pains that need to be addressed by the new mayor. I believe Mayor Barry is prepared to do exactly that. Here is some unsolicited advice for our new mayor and council on how to frame key issues.

The “growing pains” issues most often mentioned during the mayoral race were education, transportation and affordable housing. However, I’m not sure that these really are three separate issues, as we can’t solve one without addressing all of them.

Great public schools are vital to our city’s success, and this is a top priority for many citizens, according to a recent poll by Vanderbilt University. Yet, 2014 TCAP scores show that the number of Metro Nashville Public Schools performing at the state’s lowest academic level has doubled in two years.

Because of our underperforming public schools, when their children reach school age, many young Nashvillians move to surrounding counties where the schools are better, taking their talents and tax dollars with them. So, besides just being the right thing to do, improving Nashville’s public schools would help ensure that the young people fueling our city’s success stay here.

Having a quality public school system would also help to address the affordable housing issue, because improving schools throughout Nashville would make the surrounding neighborhoods — where there is affordable housing — more attractive places to live.

The fact is, affordable housing is an issue primarily in neighborhoods like East Nashville, Sylvan Park, The Nations, the Gulch, 12South, Melrose and other “hip” parts of town. You’ll find plenty of affordable places to live in other parts of Nashville. However, these affordable neighborhoods also tend to have the poorest-performing public schools, and many lack access to public transportation. If we fix schools and transportation citywide, these parts of town become much more attractive. The good news is that most of the charter schools in Nashville — which have proved to outperform traditional district schools, on average — are in these “less hip” parts of town. So, if the school board will let it happen, this problem is already on the way to being fixed.

Another way to make affordable neighborhoods more attractive is to develop an innovative transportation plan that combines the benefits of living in the central city with the affordability of living outside of it. And to create such a plan we, again, need to look at education/transportation/affordable housing as a single issue.

Consider that, in the 2014-15 fiscal year, we spent $36 million on Metro Schools’ transportation department and $70 million on MTA. By combining these two programs, we immediately increase the total public transportation budget by more than 50 percent.

Consolidating the Metro Schools transportation department with MTA would not only save millions of dollars by eliminating redundancies, it would also allow the school board to focus on the one thing they were elected to deal with — educating our children. The recent fracas over one board member going rogue on the issue of school buses is proof of how a noneducation issue like transportation can distract the board from its true purpose.

The bottom line: All the pieces of the puzzle must be in place to deal with the important issues that Nashville faces today and to prepare for the growth that we will be facing in the coming years.


Wood Caldwell is managing principal of Southeast Venture, a diversified commercial real estate company. He writes about Middle Tennessee commercial real estate issues once a month for The Tennessean. Reach him at wcaldwell@southeastventure.com.

A Great City Is A Connected City

by Wood Caldwell

(This article originally appeared in the Tennessean on Sept. 22, 2015)

A key theme of Karl Dean’s candidacy for mayor eight years ago was “connections.” As he put it, we are one city, we need to act like it. We need to reconnect with each other across whatever divides us.

And we did. Nashville is a more connected city today because of Mayor Dean’s vision. It will be a key part of his legacy. Indeed, it could be argued that the national renown our city is now enjoying – the so-called “It” city phenomenon – can be traced in large part to the fact that Nashville acts like one city instead of a collection of insular communities. Sure, our city’s neighborhoods are more vibrant than ever. East Nashville, Antioch, 12South, Germantown, Belmont/Hillsboro, Jefferson Street, Bellevue and others are fiercely proud. But they are equally proud to be Nashvillians, as was epitomized by the “We are Nashville” slogan that rose in the wake of the Great Flood of 2010.

As a commercial real estate professional, I am particularly aware of how our city is being connected geographically, and nowhere is this more obvious than in two of Nashville’s most significant public infrastructure projects of the past several years: the 28th/31st Avenue Connector, which opened in October 2012, and the new Division Street Extension, for which ground was recently broken.


(Photo: Jae S. Lee / The Tennessean)

Everyone knows that there are three things that make real estate valuable: location, location, location. But what makes a location valuable? It’s access, access, access.

The truth of this is obvious in what has happened around the 28th/31st Avenue Connector, which spans a railroad track to reconnect West and North Nashville. It created a commercial byway, leading to the revitalization of Charlotte Avenue, where both public and private new developments have sprung up, including the Lentz Public Health Center, the ONEC1TY health care campus, the Sheds on Charlotte office building and a slew of restaurants, including Hattie B’s Hot Chicken and M.L. Rose, as well as hundreds of new apartment units underway, such as H.G. Hill’s project in Sylvan Heights. Charlotte is a successful commercial real estate district today because of the 28th/31st Avenue Connector. It also created an academic thoroughfare, linking Belmont, Lipscomb, Vanderbilt, Fisk, Meharry and TSU.

In addition, the 28th/31st Avenue Connector was also Nashville’s first “Complete Street,” which was another initiative of Mayor Dean’s. A Complete Street is designed to fully accommodate a range of transportation modes – automobiles, bicycles, pedestrians and buses. And the landscaping that separates bicyclists and pedestrians from cars and buses – making it truly possible to ride or walk without risking your life – also makes a Complete Street beautiful.

The new Division Street Extension will also be a Complete Street – beautifully making the surrounding area more pedestrian-friendly and improving vehicular access – and will also connect two parts of Nashville that should have been connected long ago: The Gulch and SoBro. Connecting two of our city’s most dynamic mixed-use neighborhoods is a truly synergistic move; the whole will be much greater than the parts.

The extension will extend Division Street from 8th Avenue South – where it now dead-ends at the railroad tracks – to 2nd Avenue South. When complete, which is expected to be winter 2016, the southern part of Nashville’s downtown, formerly an industrial backwater, will transform into one of our city’s most vibrant and attractive mixed-use neighborhoods. Our firm hopes to be part of this revitalization, as we own property near this new extension on the SoBro side.

Mayor Dean has emphasized three key strategies throughout his eight years: education, safe communities and economic growth. The Division Street Extension is another great example of how Mayor Dean has promoted economic growth by providing Nashville with the necessary infrastructure.

One of the developers of a new office building in this area put it this way in the Nashville Business Journal: “All of what’s going on in SoBro is shifting the center of gravity downtown. This kind of dynamic doesn’t exist in the typical urban environments. There will be continuous activity and reason for being, 365 days a year.”

Indeed. We are so much better when we are connected.


Wood S. Caldwell is managing principal of Southeast Venture, a diversified commercial real estate company. He writes about Middle Tennessee real estate deals once a month for The Tennessean. Reach him at wcaldwell@southeastventure.com.

Georgia Company Buys Land In MetroCenter For New Luxury Apartments

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This press release was originally released on Sept. 21, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn., September 21, 2015 – The Giddings Group of Augusta, Georgia closed yesterday on its purchase of 7.39 acres in MetroCenter, on which it plans to build a 251-unit luxury apartment complex. The property was purchased from Horsepower JV for $5 million.

“We are excited about moving ahead with our first project in Nashville, which we see as one of the most desirable markets in the country for multi-family real estate. And we believe we have one of the most desirable locations in the city – it’s near downtown and Germantown, has easy access to I-65 and the Cumberland River Greenway is only steps away,” said Peter Caye III, The Giddings Group’s managing partner.

The four-story luxury apartment complex, to be known as “The Duke Nashville,” will offer studio, one- and two-bedroom units. Focused on an enriched community experience and an enhanced lifestyle for residents, the new apartments will feature gourmet kitchens, resort-style community amenities, spacious floor plans and plenty of surface parking.

“I look for The Duke Nashville to be one of the most successful apartment projects in town,” said Southeast Ventures Principal Tarek El Gammal, who represented both buyer and seller in the transaction. “It’s a great location and the Giddings Group has extensive experience in multi-family real estate, as it owns other properties in Georgia and Texas. Plus, because of the surface parking available, they will not have to build an expensive parking garage, which will allow them to offer luxury apartments at very competitive rental rates.”

About the Giddings Group

The Giddings Group is focused on multi-family construction and the development of quality environments promoting community. The company is known for building places that people want to live and it works to make each development hit the mark. The Augusta, Georgia-based company was formed in 2011 and is led by Managing Member Pete Caye Jr. and Managing Partner Peter Caye III, both of whom have extensive experience in developing multi-family residential real estate. For more information, visit Giddings-Group.com or find The Giddings Group on Twitter @GiddingsGroup.

About Southeast Venture

Founded in 1981, Southeast Venture is a diversified commercial real estate and design services company guided by a mission of “Building Value by Valuing Relationships.” The firm provides and coordinates the delivery of brokerage, development, architectural and interior design and property management. For more information, visit SoutheastVenture.com, or find Southeast Venture on Twitter @SEVentureCRE.


This press release was originally released on Sept. 4, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn., September 4, 2015 – The Hillsboro Village buildings housing Sam’s Sports Grill and the adjacent Village Marketplace and Brewery (formerly Bosco’s), have been put on the market for the first time since 1975, according to an announcement today by Southeast Venture, which has been retained to market the properties.

The property for sale encompasses .91 acres, which includes a 57-space surface parking lot behind the buildings and a .16-acre vacant lot at 2113 Belcourt Avenue, behind the parking lot.

“It’s not every day that property comes up for sale in Hillsboro Village. We are expecting a lot of interest in this listing,” said Wood Caldwell, managing principal of Southeast Venture, who is handling the listing with Director of Retail Services Jon Petty. Petty has established himself in recent years as a leading broker to the restaurant industry in Middle Tennessee. “Because this is such an unusually attractive property, we are beginning the marketing without an asking price; we are simply asking for a call for all offers. Prospective buyers will have approximately 30 days to submit their bids.”


Present-day Hillsboro Village

The building now occupied by Sam’s at 1803 21st Ave. is 6,255 square feet and the adjacent building, at 1805 21st Ave, is 6,927 square feet. Restaurant owners Sam Sanchez and Al Thomas are leasing both buildings, having leased the Sam’s building for 15 years and the adjacent building since January, when they started their first brewpub in the space. Both leases expire on December 31 of this year, and Sam’s has been closed since a recent fire.

The Village Marketplace and Brewery building was originally occupied by an F.W. Woolworth store and Sam’s space was part of a McClure’s department store.


Historical Hillsboro Village


“This is a unique opportunity to own real estate in one of Nashville’s most historical and iconic retail districts,” Petty said. “We are honored to have been chosen to broker this sale and look forward to assisting our clients to secure the most suitable buyer for the property. We’ve already received many calls from potential buyers when the word started leaking that the properties were being put on the market. This will definitely be one to watch.

“I also want to address concerns raised by some Hillsboro Village purists who raised an alarm when news began filtering out that these buildings might be sold. It is our opinion that the buyer of these buildings will keep them intact.,” he added. “The buildings are historic icons of Hillsboro Village and the bones are good.”

About Southeast Venture

Founded in 1981, Southeast Venture is a diversified commercial real estate and design services company guided by a mission of “Building Value by Valuing Relationships.” The firm provides and coordinates the delivery of brokerage, development, architectural and interior design and property management. This unique, comprehensive approach to commercial real estate offers a cost effective and efficient way of meeting its clients’ commercial real estate needs. For more information, visit SoutheastVenture.com, or find Southeast Venture on Twitter @SEVentureCRE.

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New Local Worker Requirement Will Raise Costs of City-Funded Construction

by Wood Caldwell

(This article originally appeared in the Tennessean on Aug. 24, 2015)

On August 6, Nashvillians voted to raise their property taxes.

Though a revenue-raising measure was not on the ballot, what passed was an amendment to the Metro Charter – known as Amendment 3 – that will increase the price of city-funded construction. Taxpayers will inevitably have to cover this additional cost.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Amendment 3 – which requires that Nashvillians, and only Nashvillians, provide 40 percent of the labor on city-funded construction projects of $100,000 or more – was sold as an economic boon for Nashvillians, not a drain. But good intensions often have unintended negative consequences.

It’s just basic economics: Scarcity leads to higher prices. Restricting the labor pool will make construction in Nashville more expensive. To get an on-the-ground perspective, I talked with the head of Nashville’s largest construction company, John Gromos of Turner Construction. Here’s how he put it:

“Conceptually, it sounds great to keep labor local. It’s a concept we certainly support. But, in practice, I see some unintended consequences,” he said.


(Photo: Shelley Mays/File/The Tennessean, The Tennessean)

“There is already a labor shortage, particularly for skilled labor. The construction industry has been dealing with this for years. Skilled craftsmen are retiring and many young people are not attracted to our industry. This shortage is especially significant in a fast-growing market like Nashville.

“Believe me, we prefer to use all local workers on Nashville jobs. It’s expensive to bring in people from out of town, because, on top of their salary, we also have to pay their travel expenses. But we often have to bring them in because there aren’t enough skilled workers in town,” Gromos added.

“I can see how requiring contractors to use a certain percentage of local workers will result in higher construction costs. It’s just supply and demand. Local skilled workers will demand higher wages because they know we have to hire them and there are a limited number of them, especially if there is a penalty for not achieving the 40 percent requirement. A survey of contractors in the region estimated that construction costs will rise by 15 to 25 percent, and that sounds plausible to me,” he said.

To check his assumptions, Gromos contacted the head of Turner Construction in Washington, DC, where it has been required since 2012 that 50 percent of all employees on public construction jobs live in the District of Columbia.

“He said it is essentially impossible to comply with,” Gromos reported from his counterpart in Washington. “And, because failure to comply with the program means heavy fines, many contractors are not bidding on public projects, and the bidding that does happen is extremely non-competitive.”

Gromos said he can see the same happening in Nashville.

“It takes a lot of resources for a contractor to put together a proposal and build a multi-million dollar project, so you focus those resources on projects that you can effectively manage.

“A lot depends on what the penalty is for not complying,” he added, “and the penalty has not been determined. If it is significant, I can definitely see many construction firms simply passing on Metro work. If it is reasonable, then it could make economic sense to simply add the cost of the penalty into your bid, because you have to allow for the very real possibility of not meeting the 40 percent local labor requirement. Either way, it could certainly mean higher prices for Metro construction projects.

“I applaud the idea behind Amendment 3,” Gromos said. “I believe in doing all we can to support our local economy, and it is in our company’s best interest to use local workers. I wish it was possible to have all of the good things promised by Amendment 3 without the negative consequences, but I don’t see how it is, unless we can figure out a way to overcome the supply and demand issues. I can promise that our company will do all we can to make it work, and I believe other construction firms in town will, as well. We all want what is best for Nashville.”


Wood Caldwell is managing principal of Southeast Venture, a diversified commercial real estate company. He writes about Middle Tennessee real estate deals once a month for The Tennessean. Reach him at wcaldwell@southeastventure.com.