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Partner Profile: Todd Alexander, Principal and Director of Brokerage Services

This is part of our blog series in which we’re highlighting our influential partners at Southeast Venture, including information about their backgrounds, work and perspectives on real estate trends and all things Nashville. These are a few of the leaders that inspire innovation and drive our company forward, so take a few moments to get to know them.

Todd AlexanderTodd Alexander is a principal with Southeast Venture who oversees the Brokerage Division. He began his career with Southeast Venture as a real estate broker in 1999 and has since been involved in all aspects of the brokerage and commercial real estate business, including tenant representation and landlord representation, as well as acquisition and disposition services. He is currently responsible for leasing and sales of over one million square feet of office product and over 70 acres of commercial property in the Greater Nashville region.

What changes have you seen within the company during your tenure?

A lot. We went from around 25 employees to now over 50. Our Brokerage Division had three brokers when I started (including me). We now have 14. We added an Interior Design Division.  We went from 5 partners to now 9. Also, our development work ramped up significantly, completing projects valued over $200,000,000. I have seen our company not only physically grow, but more importantly, we have grown a team of great people that care deeply about what they do and how they do it. Relationships are always put first. This has helped establish a great culture of like-minded people that are really fun to work with.

What trends are you seeing in commercial real estate?

Specifically with the design of space, I am seeing companies responding to a younger workforce desiring more amenities within their space and in the buildings they occupy. Space is continuing to become more open and collaborative with opportunities to use rooms in various ways. In development, I think we will start to see parking ratios in general offices start coming down over the next 5 years. There will always be some tenants that will be more dense, but how the work force gets to and from work is changing very quickly, and I believe this will have an impact on how projects will be developed.

What is your favorite Nashville project/development from the past year?

On the smaller side, I really like what Oakpoint did in the Nations with Stocking 51. We obviously have a vested interest in that area, and I think they did a great job setting the tone for more exciting developments in the area which will include Silo Studios. I also really like the new JW Marriott’s look. We need the hotel rooms, and I think the design is a great addition to Nashville’s skyline. Another one that comes to mind is Bridgestone building. Having a company like Bridgestone move to the Central Business District (CBD) is going to be nothing but a positive for downtown Nashville.

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Silo Studios

What project/development are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

I am really looking forward to see how the Nashville Yards project comes together over the next several years. While this project is a multi-year, multi-phased project, it has already kicked off with the Hyatt along Broadway. The sheer scale and location of this project has the opportunity to really be transformative. Having a mixed-use project on the periphery of the CBD, anchored by a strong entertainment venue and opportunities for new retail, is really going to be a unique gateway to our downtown.

What’s your favorite thing about Nashville?

Well, I’ve called it home all my life. I think my favorite thing is the people. I have heard all my life from people that visit Nashville, that “everyone is so friendly.” I couldn’t agree more. It is a great place to live and raise a family.

Where do you think commercial real estate is headed in the next 5+ years?

I think Nashville will continue to attract more people moving in from around the country. I also believe the quality of the workforce is improving, and this will only improve opportunities for growth in commercial and residential development. We may see a general slowdown in the next 18 months, but I think Nashville will continue to be a great growth story in the coming years.  

What do you like to do in your free time?

Spend time with my wife and help raise our five kids. That is my real job….commercial real estate is just what I do in my free time.

Is a Collaborative Workspace Right for Your Company?

One of the most popular interior design trends we’re seeing in commercial real estate is a collaborative workspace. Many of our clients come to us requesting this type of layout for their office. Despite its popularity, it’s not always the best design solution for a business.

To determine if a collaborative workspace is right for your company, let’s look at some of the primary design features.

Open Spaces

A collaborative workspace is designed to be open, spacious and inviting. It’s built on the idea of drawing people together to share new ideas and work with each other. Collaborative workspaces have common areas—sometimes more than one—that are easy to access and welcome both casual and business-focused conversations. These areas are often the center of the design, with small, individual offices on the perimeter, which often have glass walls and doors. These offices give employees quiet space when they need to work alone, while also allowing them to see the common areas and not miss out on what’s happening outside their offices.

Rustici / Watershed

From small nooks to large conference rooms, the Rustici Software / Watershed offices have multiple spaces for employees to choose from.

The layout of a space can either hinder or encourage collaboration, so it’s important to design spaces that are conducive to this activity based on your company’s needs. If your work requires you to gather around a computer screen with others, consider having an area with high-top tables and a large screen that everyone can easily see. Or if you need to draw concepts out, include dry erase boards in different areas throughout the office.

Options to Move Around

One of the main advantages of a collaborative workspace is flexibility—having the option to work in different locations throughout the office, both individually and with groups of people. Thanks to the move from stationary PC’s to laptops and tablets, it’s easy for employees to work in many different places, including in their offices, a conference room or a Bistro Cafe. This especially appeals to millennials because this generation prefers a collaborative work culture. Having options to move around helps their creativity and energizes them more than working in a single space all day long.


The breakroom at MediCopy offers a variety of seating options and plenty of sunlight.

Another effective aspect of a collaborative workspace design is having more than one path of travel through the office. Collaboration can happen unintentionally when someone passes by a fellow team member and starts a conversation. Designing multiple routes through the office increases the chances of this happening.

But is a collaborative workspace right for YOUR company?

Because collaboration has become a bit of a buzzword, some companies are quick to assume that this type of office design is what their business needs. But, that’s not always the case. It is vitally important to consider the day-to-day reality of your company and whether or not collaboration is needed or even beneficial.

Some professionals, such as accountants or attorneys, need quiet space to focus on their work. Introducing a collaborative design would likely disrupt their working habits and make it more difficult to focus on tasks.


Fortunately, there are alternatives to a collaborative workspace for companies that are looking for a new office design.

Many companies are deciding to lower their cubicle panels and bring workstations around the perimeter to allow for more daylight. They’re also making individual offices a smaller, standard size—rather than determining the size based on job title—and incorporating more glass walls and doors to encourage transparency and employee engagement.

With low panels, the cubicles at Concept Technology Inc. make the room feel open while giving employees a designated space to work.

When a company asks us to design a collaborative workspace for their employees, we first take time to learn about the daily routines in the office to determine how their space can better accommodate their needs. Companies recognize that rent isn’t cheap, so we strive to help them maximize space in the best ways possible. A well-designed space is proven to improve productivity, organizational performance and employee satisfaction. Determining how to achieve this through design is what we do best.

Southeast Venture: A Legacy 35 Years in the Making


Starting back row (l-r): Axson West, Greg Coleman, John Cavin, Kerry Osborne, Michael Finucane; Todd Alexander, Jon Petty, Iain Shriver, Morgan Brown, Aaron White; Roscoe High, Treanor Granberry, Cam Sorenson, Curt Schriner, Beau Brady, Nathan Narwold, Wood Caldwell, Gaius Overton, Paul Plummer; JC Darby, Jimmy Pickel, Coleman Boyd, Celeste Mize, Megan Johnson, Sims Polk, Brett Downey, Samantha O’Leary; Randy Parham, Laura Ristvedt, Kim Ingram, Adam Upton, Kelly Sullivan, Michael Wrigley, Kaylen Harrison; Lee White, Tarek El Gammal, Ginny Caldwell, Monnika Whittenberg, Katie Gray, Kevin Liegibel; Not Pictured: Willie Moody, Jeremy Coward

Today we look back at how the city has changed since we opened our doors 35 years ago.

In 1981, Nashville was a fraction of the city it is today. Richard Fulton was mayor and Kim Carnes’ Bette Davis Eyes was the most popular song on the radio. Only two minor league pro sports teams resided here: the Nashville Sounds baseball team and the South Stars hockey team. That same year, singer/songwriter Vernon Dalhart and Grand Ole Opry announcer Grant Turner were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. A mere 448,003 people called Nashville home – compared to the 659,042 estimated  in 2016. And that is just in Davidson County – the Metropolitan Statistic Area rose from 1.59 million to 1.75 million during the same period.


Design Group: Paul Plummer, Iain Shriver, Kerry Osborne; Curt Schriner, Beau Brady, Nathan Narwold, Morgan Brown, Gaius Overton; Celeste Mize, Sims Polk, Brett Downey, Samantha O’Leary; Monnika Whittenberg, Katie Gray, Ginny Caldwell, Kevin Liegibel

Music City’s growth has brought significant changes to the Nashville skyline. In 1981, there were only nine buildings downtown higher than 10 stories – that is, the skyline consisted of a few tall buildings rising above the 4- to 6-story buildings that predominated. Today, the skyline is dominated by high-rises of 15-30 stories–24 and counting! In 1981, the William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower (then known as the American General Building) held the title of tallest building at 452 feet. Today, that structure is overshadowed by the 617 foot tall AT&T Building, more commonly known as the Batman Building. And the rents of commercial office space have also risen, from $17 per square foot in 1981 to more than $40 per square foot today.


Brokerage: John Cavin, Greg Coleman, Michael Finucane, Axson West; Roscoe High, Jimmy Pickel, Coleman Boyd, Todd Alexander, Jon Petty, Kaylen Harrison; Treanor Granberry, Tarek El Gammal, Randy Parham, Lee White, Kelly Sullivan, Wood Caldwell, JC Darby; Not Pictured: Jeremy Coward

Other than the physical changes downtown, the most significant change is the influx of downtown residents.  The number has skyrocketed from virtually none to more than 14,000 people. This much higher concentration of downtown residents has led to a resurgence of downtown retail; something Nashville has not enjoyed since the 1960s.

Downtown Nashville also sees much more foot traffic than it did 35 years ago. Back in the day, people rarely ventured downtown. Lower Broadway was mostly shuttered storefronts and strip clubs. Today, more than 13.5 million tourists visit Nashville each year—making it one of the top 50 places in the world to visit, according to Travel + Leisure. Thanks to the growing tourism industry, hotel availability has more than doubled in the last 35 years.  In 1981, just 12,200 rooms were available. Today, more than 27,100 are available, with nearly 2,000 under construction.


Accounting & Property Management: Randy Parham, Laura Ristvedt, Aaron White, Megan Johnson, Adam Upton, Michael Wrigley, Kim Ingram, not pictured: Willie Moody

We, Southeast Venture, have made a tremendous impact on Nashville over the years by staying true to our mission: Building Value by Valuing Relationships. This is more than just a mission statement, it’s a mindset that has shaped the direction of our company from day one. With it we have fostered partnerships with many great companies throughout Middle Tennessee, resulting in some of our city’s most prominent architecture. From our first construction project on the Perimeter Park Executive Center to our newest multi-use apartment and retail development Eastside Heights, Southeast Venture will continue to shape Nashville real estate for years to come.


Principals (l-r): Randy Parham, Michael Finucane, Wood Caldwell, Paul Plummer, Cam Sorenson, Axson West, Todd Alexander, Tarek El Gammal

New Mixed-Used Development in the Nations Neighborhood Takes Its Name from Landmark on Site

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This press release was originally released on Oct. 20, 2016.

New Mixed-Used Development in the Nations Neighborhood Takes Its Name from Landmark on Site

New Name and Logo Introduced to Community During Light the Nations 615 Festival This Weekend
 Will Break Ground for First Building in Early 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct. 20, 2016 – Southeast Venture, developers of a 37.7-acre mixed use real estate development on Centennial Boulevard in The Nation’s neighborhood, announced today the name of the project: Silo Bend.

“The first thing everyone notices about this property is the 200-foot-tall abandoned concrete grain silo in the middle of the site, which was used years ago by the Gillette Grain Company. It’s quite impressive. In fact, it is featured in a video series by artist Brian Siskind called ‘The Nations Life,’” said Southeast Venture Principal Wood Caldwell.

(To see the video series, search for ‘the nations life’ on YouTube or set your browser to Video credit: Brian Siskind/Those Drones, LLC)

“The silo can be see from miles away – including from the upper floors of downtown buildings – and it is by far the tallest structure in The Nation’s neighborhood. The owner had planned to incorporate it into this development from the beginning, so it is natural that this landmark would be integral to the brand. In addition to using the word ‘silo’ in the name, the logomark is a line drawing of the silo,” Caldwell added. “The second word in the name refers to the fact that this development is across from a bend of the Cumberland River.”

The new name will be officially unveiled this Saturday at Light The Nations 615 festival, of which Silo Bend is a title sponsor. Running from 4 to 10 p.m., the event will take place on 51st Avenue between Georgia and Illinois avenues. It will feature local businesses, art, vendors, food trucks and live entertainment, including musical acts Kree Harrison, Moon and Forty-Two and Tommy Hans. To learn more, go to

Centered at the intersection of Centennial Boulevard and New York Avenue, Silo Bend extends from Centennial to the southern bank of the Cumberland River. When complete, Silo Bend will include single-family homes, apartments and retail stores. The property is owned by R. Manuel Cenntennial.

Caldwell said he expects ground to be broken for the first building – a 193-unit apartment building – by the first quarter of 2017. Southeast Venture is architect for Silo Bend, Barge Cauthen & Associates is the civil engineer, Hodson Douglas is the landscape architect and RPM Transportation is providing the traffic analysis and transportation plan.

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, or find Southeast Venture on Twitter @SEVentureCRE.


Community Input Sought About Development of Spring Hill Property

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This press release was originally released on Sept. 8, 2016. 

Community Input Sought About Development of Spring Hill Property

Dates and Location for Community Meetings Announced

SPRING HILL, Tennessee, September 8, 2016 –Spring Hill residents are invited to attend upcoming meetings where their input will be sought about development of a 780-acre tract of land in the northeast corner of the city.

Designated a “Gateway District” in the City of Spring Hill’s long-range land use plan, the acreage considered for development is bounded on the east by I-65, on the west by Buckner Lane, on the north by Thompson Station Road and on the south by Twin Lakes Drive and Summit High School. It is owned by Buckner Lane Partners, LP.

Two meetings are scheduled, both in the multipurpose room at the Catholic Church of the Nativity, 2793 Bucker Lane, Spring Hill, 37179 – which is near the future development site. The meetings will be from 6 – 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 13, and Tuesday, September 27. The multipurpose room entry is at the rear of the Church.

“Community input is vital to the successful development of this outstanding property, and we are looking forward to a good turnout,” said Randy Parham, a principal with Southeast Venture, the Nashville commercial real estate firm overseeing development of the site.

Southeast Venture Principal Wood Caldwell said community members will have an opportunity to learn about potential plans for the property and to provide their feedback during the upcoming meetings.

“We’ll do a PowerPoint presentation that gives an overview the site. We’ll then move to a more informal setting where we’ll have tables set up manned by members of our team where residents can give their comments directly to us, without having to speak in a public setting. In our experience, this combination of group and individual feedback is very effective in generating response from as many people as possible, which is our goal,” Caldwell said.

Spring Hill area residents wanting more information on should contact either Randy Parham ( or Wood Caldwell ( at Southeast Venture. Further information about Southeast Venture can be found at the Southeast Venture website at



Meet our new team members—Morgan, Celeste and Kelly.

It’s been a busy few months at Southeast Venture, and we’re happy to introduce our three newest team members: Morgan Jessilyn Brown, Celeste Mize, Associate IIDA and Kelly Sullivan.

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Morgan Brown

Brown joins the team as a design services project manager. In her role, she will assist in the design of multi-family, office, healthcare and master planning projects. Brown graduated from the University of Kentucky with a bachelor of science in architecture. She also earned a Master of Architecture and a certificate in urban redevelopment from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Celeste Mize

Also joining our design services team is Celeste Mize as an interior designer. Mize will be involved in design development and production of drawings for a variety of projects, including corporate, multi-family and health care. An Appalachian State University alum, she honed her design skills prior to graduation as an intern with the facilities management department at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and with the Phillips Collection in North Carolina.

Kelly Sullivan

Kelly Sullivan

Sullivan joins the firm as a broker, where she will work specifically with office properties in Nashville. Most recently, Sullivan worked as an office division broker at commercial real estate firm NAI Earle Furman in Greenville, SC. In May 2015, she graduated with a B.B.A. in business from Furman University. While earning her degree, Sullivan also completed an internship at National Land Realty.

Mixed Use Zoning To Be Sought For Buckner Lane Property in Spring Hill

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This press release was originally released on Aug. 17, 2016. 

Mixed Use Zoning To Be Sought For

Buckner Lane Property in Spring Hill

Series of Community Meetings To Be Scheduled
Before Rezoning Request is Submitted This Fall


SPRING HILL, Tennessee, August 17, 2016 – Southeast Venture, a Middle Tennessee diversified real estate company, announced today that it has been retained to seek rezoning of 780 acres fronting I-65 in Spring Hill owned by Buckner Lane Partners, LP.

The highly visible property is bounded on the east by I-65, on the west by Buckner Lane, on the north by Thompson Station Road and on the south by Twin Lakes Drive and Summit High School. In accordance with the City of Spring Hill’s new long-range planning document, “Spring Hill Rising 2040,” the plan will be to change the property’s zoning from agricultural to mixed use, explained Southeast Venture Principals Randy Parham and Wood Caldwell.

“In Spring Hill’s new long-range plan, the property is designated a “Gateway District,” which calls for a mixture of employment, retail, housing and entertainment choices. With the growth in the area, owners of the property believe that now is the time to put the land to its highest and best use. This rezoning fits perfectly with the mixed use vision for the property created by the residents of Spring Hill in their new long-range plan,” Parham said.

“But simply rezoning this acreage is not enough to assure that it is used in a way that will most benefit Spring Hill – it will also take input from city officials and community members, which is why we are planning a series of community meetings before the rezoning request is submitted this fall. This input will guide the development of an overall plan for the property,” Caldwell added.

“Whatever the final plan is, the owners have stipulated that, consistent with Spring Hill’s plan, it must be a walkable, pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly community. They also want any development to respect the environment, which means that natural features like the large pond and stream on the property will be preserved,” he added.

Spring Hill Mayor Rick Graham said he has met with the Southeast Venture principals and believes the rezoning of the property is consistent with the Gateway District designation and will enhance the community.

“Randy Parham, Wood Caldwell and their team have a long history of successful land developments. They made it clear to me that they intend to work closely with city officials throughout this rezoning process to assure that all voices are heard and that the plan which evolves from this process follows our ‘Spring Hill Rising 2040’ long-range plan and is focused on making Spring Hill a better place to live, work and raise a family. I look forward to working with my fellow aldermen to assure this 780 acres in the northeast corner of our city realizes its highest potential.”

Any Spring Hill area residents wanting more information on the proposed rezoning should contact either Randy Parham ( or Wood Caldwell ( at Southeast Venture. Further information about Southeast Venture can be found at the Southeast Venture website at



Nashville proudly joins the NERDS crowd

(This article originally appeared in the Tennessean on April 25, 2016)

429871739_bdb9df5c37_oNashville has been dubbed one of the “NERDS” in 2016. An acronym standing for “Nashville, East Bay, Raleigh, Denver and Salt Lake City,” the NERDS were revealed in a recent report from Jones Lang LaSalle, a global professional services and investment management firm. These six cities are identified as hidden gems that have emerged in the market as up-and-coming hotbeds for innovation, expansion and population migration. It’s safe to say that Nashville is in good company!

The study takes an in-depth look at what makes each of the NERDS a rising star, comparing statistics among each city and against national averages. With nearly 1,500 people moving to Nashville each month and a record-breaking commercial real estate year in 2015, it’s not too surprising that Nashville made the list. Our city is booming.

The mass influx of new residents is supported by businesses’ desires to serve their needs. There were 37 business relocations and 117 expansions in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, according to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. And thanks to a strong and steady economy, Nashville is positioned as a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship with a solid foundation to support growth for years to come.

Even though Nashville’s already earned its status as an “It-city,” the transformation has only just begun. In 2016, we can expect economic growth to the tune of $2.7 billion in capital investment dollars and 18,000 new jobs in Davidson County. It’s never been so cool to be a nerd.

Our largest industries, education and health services, provide jobs for nearly 200,000 people within city limits and another 200,000 in surrounding counties. And our largest employers, Vanderbilt University and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, together employ more than 20,000 people. According to this research, Music City is very quickly earning a new title — Eds-and-Meds City.

Of course, this surge in our city’s growth is a huge boon to the commercial real estate market here. With over 120 cranes decorating our skyline at any given moment, and a multitude of projects on the horizon, the city’s built environment is changing rapidly and for the better.

There is one small caveat that accompanies rapid growth: high prices for both commercial and residential real estate. With all but 18.1 percent of the nearly 3 million square feet under construction already leased and a vacancy rate of less than 7 percent, prices won’t wane for the foreseeable future. The good news? A plethora of commercial and residential options outside of the city’s urban core are available for a fraction of the cost. There’s something for everyone in this city.

Looking ahead, I see Nashville’s inclusion in this study as a sign of promise and hope of what’s to come for our great city. There are new jobs being created. We are attracting well-educated and creative individuals. Our built environment is changing for the better to support this growth. I believe that through all of this, we will become stronger and more unified as a city, and that Nashville will remain the same little-big, or in this case little-bigger, city that it’s always been.


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

Welcome to the team, Kerry and Monika

Have you heard? Southeast Venture has added Kerry Osborne, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, as director of design services and Monika Whittenburg, IIDA, LEED AP, as a senior interior designer.

Kerry OsborneOsborne will oversee design services alongside Paul Plummer, principal of design services, and Ginny Caldwell, director of interior design. Most recently Osborne served as director of the architecture department for AECOM, an engineering consultant firm in Indianapolis. There he worked on commercial and industrial projects in health care, hospitality, transportation and education.

Monika Whittenburg

Whittenburg will direct and collaborate with other design professionals on projects and manage projects throughout the entire design process. Her work at other firms included a strong emphasis on healthcare design, as well as corporate and educational projects.

Southeast Venture began offering interior design services in 2000. Our interior design and architecture teams work closely in designing multi-family, corporate and healthcare projects. Notable projects include 12 South Flats, Hill Center at Sylvan Heights, Concept Technology and MediCopy.

Nashville’s ‘it’ status is 35 years in the making

By Wood Caldwell

(This article originally appeared in the Tennessean on March 21, 2016)

In 1981, Ronald Reagan was president, Music City (and the world) was introduced to MTV and our commercial real estate firm opened its doors. The view through our doors has certainly changed in the past 35 years.

The Nashville skyline has transformed dramatically. The American General Tower (now Tennessee Tower) was the city’s tallest building in 1981, because the AT&T headquarters — aka “The Bat Building” — had not arrived. Other skyline-defining buildings missing in 1981 included 5/3 Center, One Nashville Place, Nashville City Center, Pinnacle at Symphony Place, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Bridgestone Arena, Viridian Tower, Encore, the Renaissance Hotel, Downtown Hilton Hotel, Omni Nashville Hotel, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Music City Center, to name but a few. Today, our skyline is ranked as the 12th most beautiful in the nation by Thrilllist.

Nashville Skyline Crop

The ground-level view of downtown has changed just as significantly for the better. Pockmarked with shuttered storefronts, strip clubs and porn shops, Lower Broad was far from a tourist Mecca. In fact, the Nashville Convention Center was built in the mid-1980s with no windows or doors on the Broadway side of the building because the street was such an eyesore.

The only real foot traffic downtown was on Second Avenue (then known as Market Street), where some enterprising entrepreneurs had purchased the old warehouses there and begun to transform them into retail stores, restaurants and office space. But even this part of town was largely deserted after dark. People just didn’t go downtown, no matter how much you enticed them, which was proven when a beautiful shopping mall was built where the downtown public library sits today. It lasted about two years.

The idea that the industrial area south of Broadway, now known as SoBro, or the grimy and depressed area near the railroad switching yard, aka The Gulch, would someday be home to some of the most valuable real estate in town would have been outlandish, had anyone been crazy enough to suggest this.

Union Station Hotel was still an abandoned train station. The Frist Center for the Visual Arts was still a post office. Cummins Station was an abandoned warehouse. The city’s largest strip club, the Classic Cat, was next door to Hume Fogg High School. The Hall of Fame was in a rather small, barnlike building on Music Row. Where the Roundabout Building is today sat a portion of Hank Williams home, which someone had moved there as a tourist attraction (though I never saw it attract anyone). There was no Music Row Roundabout, no “Musica” statue — just a confusing intersection of five streets.

Looking outside of Downtown Nashville, there was no Cool Springs and The Mall at Green Hills was a modest, one-story affair. In contrast, Hickory Hollow Mall was the highest grossing mall in the state and its cousin north of town, Rivergate, was also minting money.

For a night on the town, Hillsboro Village was the only urban, mixed-use part of town, and it was becoming the trendy restaurant hub of Nashville, thanks to pioneering restaurateur Jody Faison, who launched Faison’s in the early 1980s and essentially founded Nashville’s independent restaurant landscape. Within a few years, Randy Rayburn opened Sunset Grill, and Hillsboro Village’s restaurant run began in earnest.

The striking difference between then and now is the result of enlightened city leaders and local real estate visionaries working together to build a better city. It has been a privilege to have a front-row seat to this incredible transformation.


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