The Story of Nashville’s Downtown Revitalization: An Overnight Success in a 10 Year Town

While calling Nashville’s success “overnight” is an overstatement, Music City’s recent resurgence has been nothing short of phenomenal. Although it may take aspiring musicians 10 years of working gigs and paying dues to hit it big on Music Row, downtown development has been going strong for more than 20 years. The good news for existing and potential investors is that Nashville’s star isn’t showing any signs of dimming.

In part 2 of our series, “How to Get in on the Nashville Boom ” we’re shining a spotlight on urban development that has occurred within the city’s downtown core. For those interested in learning more about investing in downtown Nashville real estate, gaining an understanding of where Nashville has been, and where the city’s development is heading, is an important part of becoming an informed investor.

It’s widely agreed that the current boom began in 1994, under Mayor Phil Bredesen. Setting an ambitious agenda in his second State of Metro address in 1993, Bredesen laid out a vision for the city by taking listeners on an imaginary helicopter ride in the year 2000. The former mayor proved to be remarkably prescient in many of his predictions.

For a better idea of the scope of Nashville’s changing landscape between 1991-1999, take a look at this compelling SlideShare

About Nashville

Beautiful Nashville, located in the rolling hills of middle Tennessee,  was founded as Fort Nashborough , on the banks of the mighty Cumberland River on Christmas, 1779. Just 5 years later, the fledgling community became Nashville and was incorporated as a town in 1806. By 1843, Nashville was established as the capital of Tennessee.

According to the US Census Bureau, the city’s population hit an all-time record of 678,889 residents in 2015 . With a low cost of living (94% of the national average), terrific residential opportunities, “only in Nashville” tourist attractions, a thriving cultural base, and a diverse economy, Nashville has rightly earned a place as an “It City.”

Here are just a few of the city’s recent achievements as identified by Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County’s FY 2017 Recommended Budget:

  • released an article about the best cities for income in STEM jobs, and Nashville ranked in the top 5.

  • Nashville ranked 18th out of 200 large cities on the Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Cities for 2015.

  • Nashville ranked 5th for “thronging to” on Forbes’ list of The Cities Americans are Thronging to and Fleeing.

  • named Nashville one of the Best Places to Start a Business

  • Condé Nast declared Nashville as one of the Friendliest cities in the US in 2015

  • Based on job growth, unemployment data, and other economic factors, Forbes discovered that Nashville was one of America’s Fastest Growing Cities.

  • New Geography listed Nashville as one of the cities that are attracting the most families.

  • Area Development rated Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) 14th out of nearly 400 major metropolitan areas for economic growth, workforce, and other factors.

In September, the Nashville Business Journal had some more great news for local real estate investors: “Nashville's latest No. 1 ranking is one that should be fattening wallets throughout Middle Tennessee. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2015 American Community Survey, Nashville and its environs had the biggest household income gains in the country between 2014 and 2015. The area's 2015 median household income was $57,985, up 10 percent from 2014. Nearby Southern cities Birmingham and Atlanta came in second and third, and Memphis also found itself in the Top 10, prompting The Wall Street Journal to suggest readers "look to the South" for the cities getting richer the fastest.”

Downtown Nashville Real Estate

If building permits are any indication of the city’s forward momentum, it bears mentioning that 12,389 building permits worth 2,846 million were issued in 2015 ? . Four years ago, blogger Mark A. Hollingsworth, in his post “Embracing the Gray,” compiled an impressive list of changes to the city’s landscape.

A few highlights from his comprehensive list include:

  • Bridgestone Arena. 18,500 capacity. Home of Nashville Predators NHL hockey team and 100 other concerts/events per year.

  • Nissan Field. 70,000 capacity. Home of Tennessee Titans NFL team.

  • Bicentennial Mall State Park.

  • Downtown Library (built on the site of the former Church Street Mall)

  • Schermerhorn Symphony Hall

  • Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

  • Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge

  • Music City Center

  • Davidson County Justice Building

  • AT&T Center (“The Batman Building”) -- at 40 stories, it’s the tallest in state

  • The Hilton Hotel  (13 stories)

  • Omni Hotel (23 stories)

  • Veridian Condominiums (35 stories)

  • The Pinnacle Place (30 stories)

  • Hyatt Place Hotel (11 stories)

  • Music City Central Metro Transit Terminal

  • Frist Center for the Arts conversion

  • Ryman Auditorium remodeling

  • Broadway, 2nd Avenue, 12 South, Marathon Village, and Germantown revitalization

Since Hollingsworth’s list was published in 2013, several major projects like The Westin Hotel, Ascend Amphitheater, and Cumberland Park have added revenue to the city’s coffers and cranes (prompting many to joke that the “crane” is the city’s official bird) to Nashville’s skyline. Currently under construction or soon-to-be-completed projects include Bridgestone Americas Headquarters, the National Museum of African American Music, 505 Church, and Thompson Nashville.

Building Design+Construction reports that private investors are having a huge impact on Nashville’s downtown development, “What’s different this time around is that lenders, particularly private equity investors, want a piece of the action...In just the first half of 2014, investors and developers secured $254 billion for construction and development starts on an unadjusted basis, ranging from sophisticated Class A office towers in gateway central business districts to manufacturing facilities located in energy-focused markets to multifamily properties in booming job markets—like the proposed tower in SoBro.”

In 2015, the New York Times noted the proliferation of construction cranes looming over the city’s skyline and reported that more than 100 new projects with an estimated value of more than $2 billion were underway (or soon to be) in Nashville. Projects ranging from hotels to office buildings to residential towers are all expected to change the landscape of downtown Nashville. One critical move Nashville made in response to the growth, and to encourage more new construction, was adjusting the city’s zoning code to enable builders to combine residential, office, retail, and entertainment spaces in their projects. “What we’re seeing now is the result of 20 years of preparation,” Mr. Bernhardt ? said. “This was a conscious effort to move the city forward, to make Nashville a more attractive place for investment.

To learn more about investing in downtown Nashville real estate, contact Canopy South Capital Management.

Horton Admin