Tag Archives: SoBro

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 Feb. 10

Nashville CRE Links

  1. Belmont preps for next construction round — Nashville Post (link)
  2. Case Study: Restauranteur takes third swing in 12South — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  3. Franklin apartment boom shows no signs of stopping — Tennessean (link)
  4. Palmer, Concord ink letter of intent — Nashville Post (link)
  5. Site work done for proposed SoBro skyscraper — Nashville Post (link)

Nashville CRE Week in Review: Week of Dec. 2

Nashville CRE Links

  1. AmSurg plans new HQ in Green Hills — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  2. Brentwood medical office building sells for $9.2M — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  3. Historic auto factory finds new life as retail, office hub — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  4. Metro to acquire 600 acres for Donelson park — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  5. Planners name 5 top goals for SoBro plan — 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 Oct. 7

Nashville CRE Links

  1. Nashville Medical Trade Center canceled by developers — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  2. Price of Nashville hotel plot sets mark — Tennessean (link)
  3. ‘Providence Central’ business park envisions residential, retail community in Mt. Juliet — Tennessean (link)
  4. South of Broadway needs networks, more hotels, planner says — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  5. Williamson commissioners broaden restrictive zoning regs — Nashville Post (link)

Nashville CRE Week in Review: Week of August 12

Nashville CRE Links

  1. $12M permit issued for work on HCA’s Antioch property — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  2. Atlanta developer eyes mixed-use Germantown project — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  3. Developers break ground for office building, apartments at Franklin Park in Cool Springs — Tennessean (link)
  4. NHI pays $25.2M for Washington senior living campus — Nashville Businesss Journal (link)
  5. Pittsburgh firm to lead SoBro plan — Tennessean (link)

Nashville CRE Week in Review: Week of July 29

Nashville CRE Links

  1. Area retail market treading water — Nashville Post (link)
  2. Brazilian steakhouse headed downtown — Nashville Post (link)
  3. Developer of massive Biltmore project files Ch. 11 — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  4. Hyatt Place groundbreaking set for Tuesday — Tennessean (link)
  5. SoBro tower gets new design — Nashville Post (link)

Nashville CRE Week in Review: Week of July 15


Nashville CRE Links

  1. Boyle sells military processing building for $3.5 M — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  2. Hearing Bridges’ SoBro site sells for $2.75 M — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  3. Metro issues $32 million permit for SoBro’s Hyatt Place — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  4. Retail project set for former Calhoun’s site on White Bridge — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  5. The Factory at Franklin landmark mall is sold — Tennessean (link)





Nashville CRE Week in Review: Week of March 25

Nashville CRE Links

  1. 4th and Commerce looks to land tenants — Nashville Post (link)
  2. Mayor Dean announces plan to guide Nashville growth — Nashville Business Journal (link)
  3. Metro gets $400,000 to plan SoBro ‘vision’ — Tennessean (link)
  4. New Cool Springs office space targets expansions, relocations — Tennessean (link)
  5. The Shopping Center Group moving to Terrazzo in the Gulch — Nashville Business Journal (link)