Tag Archives: Music City Center

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 wcaldwell@southeastventure.com.

City Winery Invests in SoBro; Buys Warehouse Space on Lafayette Street

Nashville’s new “brewers’ row” just added some grapes to its mix. City Winery, an urban winery with existing locations in New York City and Chicago, has purchased warehouse space on Lafayette Street in SoBro and plans to convert the space into a wine, food and entertainment venue.

Jon Petty

Jon Petty

Jon Petty, commercial real estate broker for Southeast Venture represented the buyer, City Winery Nashville, LLC, and confirmed the closing of the sale. Buist Richardson of Cornerstone Cushman & Wakefield represented the seller. The 30,000-square-foot warehouse at 609 Lafayette Street will be converted into a 350-seated music venue, 150-capacity restaurant, fully functioning winery and private event space.

“This is an example of another really unique, out-of-town concept coming to Nashville,” Petty said. “City Winery is taking an old, underutilized warehouse and converting it into an urban winery with a restaurant and entertainment venue. Nashville does not currently have a concept quite like it.”


The building, originally part of the Sears properties, has been subdivided and predominantly used as warehouse space over the years. With the opening of the Music City Center, the extension of 8th Avenue, the pedestrian bridge slated to connect SoBro to the Gulch, and the overall growth of the SoBro district in general has resulted in many of these buildings being underutilized and targeted for redevelopment. City Winery’s Nashville outpost will sit two blocks from the new Music City Convention Center and a block from Jack White’s Third Man Records.

“City Winery is thrilled to become a part of this community. This town is a hot bed of great musicians and fans, new restaurants and hotels and wine-loving consumers,” said Michael Dorf, founder and CEO of City Winery. “The facility will make an exciting addition to the burgeoning culinary scene in Nashville and complement the established and growing music community. We are confident that our model of wine, great food and live music, in conjunction with a state-of-the-art space will be greatly received by Nashvillians.”

“Adding to a long list of developments in the area, City Winery will be another catalyst for more entertainment and hospitality themed concepts in this section of SoBro,” Petty said.

A couple weeks ago, Tennessee Brew Works officially opened its Tennessee TapRoom on 809 Ewing Avenue, just blocks from Yazoo and Jackalope. Metro Nashville also recently approved an extension of 8th Avenue South, which will bridge this section of SoBro with the Gulch. In addition, a planned pedestrian bridge that connects the Gulch to SoBro and Music City Center will help foot traffic access this area.

Construction will start early in January and City Winery expects to be open by September 2014. MTLC Building Group will be the general contractor for the concept.  The enterprise also plans to add a Napa Valley location in 2014.

Nashville CRE Week in Review: Week of Nov. 18

Nashville CRE Links

  1. $58M Eleven North apartment sale sets new record — Tennessean (link)
  2. Baptist Healing Trust buys new Nashville home off Sidco Drive — Tennessean (link)
  3. HCA deal is among Nashville’s biggest — Tennessean (link)
  4. Nashville gambles on lure of new convention center — New York Times (link)
  5. Oberto plans Nashville production facility, 300 jobs — Nashville Business Journal (link)

Nashville CRE Week in Review: Week of Oct. 14

Nashville CRE Links

  1. Mix of stores coming to East Nashville’s new Shops at Fatherland — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  2. Music City Center area investor plans massive campus to attract ‘creative class’ — The Tennessean (link)
  3. Old convention hall will stay busy after Music City Center opens — The Tennessean (link)
  4. Planner lays out vision for SoBro area — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  5. Retail, music projects pitched for Nashville Convention Center — Nashville Business Journal (link)

Nashville CRE Week in Review: Week of Sept. 9

Nashville CRE Links

  1. Hotel developers line up to build in downtown Nashville — The Tennessean (link)
  2. Midtown’s Hotel Indigo reopens as Aloft — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  3. Peeking into the Music City Center — Nashville Post (link)
  4. Regions Center fetches $15.5 million top bid in auction — The Tennessean (link)
  5. Regions Center online sale falls through — The Tennessean (link)

Med Mart – Music City’s Next Big Hit

Ashley Bishopby Ashley Bishop, CCIM

Health care is one of Nashville’s leading industries. Nashville is home to more than 300 health care companies, 33 of which are major organizations, and nearly half of investor-owned hospitals in the U.S. are owned or operated by companies headquartered in Nashville.

Like the auto industry, health care has many components, so it makes sense logistically that a company manufacturing hospital beds or imaging equipment, for example, would want to be located close to companies who purchase most of their products, just the same as auto suppliers locate close to major auto manufacturing facilities.

This is where the Nashville Medical Trade Center, aka Med Mart, comes into play. An idea that started several years ago and may come to fruition soon, Med Mart will be the first of its kind in the world and will tremendously benefit Nashville and the entire health care industry. Med Mart will convert the existing convention center into a 1.5M SF permanent medical trade show, becoming the global headquarters for health care events.

There are more than 500 health care trade shows held nationally each year. Imagine a state-of-the-art facility in downtown Nashville with permanent showrooms to host these events. It will provide a single venue for the leading health care companies to showcase their products and services.

NMTC show floorIt’s estimated that more than 300 health care companies will have permanent Med Mart space. These showrooms will include imaging equipment, surgical equipment and supplies, laboratory equipment, medical devices, building and design materials, dental, lighting and illumination, consulting/advisory firms, associations and more. Med Mart will also feature 150,000 SF of temporary exhibit space, conference halls and room for training and education.

The proposed Med Mart plans to renovate the current convention center immediately following the grand opening of the new LEED Certified Nashville Music City Center. This new 1.2M SF convention center is going to be an architectural wonder, covering 16 acres two blocks south of the existing center, and surrounded by the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the Frist Center and Bridgestone Arena.

For Med Mart to break ground it must be 60 percent pre-leased. Just last month, Med Mart announced an 80,000 SF lease with RHCC, who plans to develop in three phases. One of these phases will include the Intelligent Hospital. Walter Duncan with the Nashville Post reported, “The Intelligent Hospital will replicate the actual environments of a hospital, complete with registration, surgical services, emergency rooms and critical care services – a complete hospital deployment.”

The Med Mart is a win-win opportunity for the City of Nashville and the health care industry. Companies can keep their travel and exhibition costs down while maintaining a product presence in a controlled environment. Preliminary estimates indicate the Med Mart will employ 2,700 people, and an additional 150,000 people a year will come into downtown Nashville as a result of this facility. Talk about a boost to tourism.

NMTC outsideIn addition, Med Mart will be located in the heart of Nashville’s entertainment district. As I’ve said before, it’s easy to be an advocate of Nashville, and this innovative concept will fit right in with our hopes for a successful future here.

(Renderings courtesy of the Nashville Medical Trade Center)

Nashville CRE Week in Review: Week of June 3

Nashville CRE Links

  1. Hilton Garden Inn trades for $14.7M — Nashville Post (link)
  2. Midtown Nashville hotel sells for $14.7 million — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  3. Pillsbury law firm picks AT&T Building as downtown home — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  4. TSU breaks ground on new agricultural biotechnology building — The City Paper (link)
  5. With Music City Center fast approaching, Renaissance Hotel owner seeks audience with mayor — Tennessean (link)

Nashville CRE Week in Review: Week of Jan. 15

Nashville CRE Links

  1. Dave Ramsey buys Spring Hill strip mall — Tennessean (link)
  2. Downtown Nashville waits for retailers to move in — Tennessean (link)
  3. Lebanon votes against proposed events center — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  4. MDHA appeal to protract convention center fight with Tower Investments — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  5. What’s going on at West End Summit? — Nashville Business Journal (link)

Nashville CRE Week in Review: Week of Nov. 20

Nashville CRE Links

  1. Amazon land deal to wait till after holiday — Tennessean (link)
  2. Hotel developer pays $2.35 million for Gulch sites — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  3. LifePoint to leave Williamson for Davidson — Tennessean (link)
  4. Stonehenge announces Music Row apartment building — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  5. Top of the List: Downtown Nashville office buildings — Nashville Business Journal (link)

Nashville CRE Week in Review: Week of Sept. 11

Nashville CRE Links

  1. Bank-owned Rhythm units hit condo market — Tennessean (link)
  2. Most Music City Center contract money goes out of state — Tennessean (link)
  3. Out-of-town investors pursue local real estate — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  4. Plan would add shops, reflect Antioch’s diversity — Tennessean (link)
  5. Randy McClain: Icon’s sales are sign of Gulch’s resurgence — Tennessean (link)