They say that Atlanta is the South’s most overbuilt market and Nashville is the most over-announced.
Since 2000, numerous urban infill developments slated for Nashville have fizzled.
The significance? Obviously, the setbacks frustrate “built environment nuts,” who would celebrate construction of a 500-foot-tall concrete slab.
But there is a greater concern. Developers are gaining a negative reputation for exaggerating their projects’ prospects. Increasingly, Nashvillians dismissively smile with the announcement of an overly ambitious project or a “ceremonial groundbreaking.”
Feeling this cynicism, developers disseminate press releases and renderings, assemble earnest sales/marketing teams to gauge public sentiment — then pray they don’t take a financial bloodbath.
Crosland Inc. regaled Nashville powerbrokers in June 2007 with a major groundbreaking event for Griffin Plaza in The Gulch. Battling a blisteringly hot day, loquacious then-Mayor Bill Purcell gamely delivered clichéd comments to a huge throng. A year later, no dirt has been moved as water connection fees, Crosland’s purchasing of adjacent property and a partnership with the Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund seemingly have delayed construction.
Last November, an official promoting upscale condo project The Avenues at Twenty-Fourth and Fairfax ensured a writer that construction was imminent. Today, the lot sits empty.
Remember the name Sonny Belew and his Symphony Tower?
Even the always-optimistic Village Real Estate Services has struggled to convince would-be buyers of the quality of various proposed developments.
The following projects, all new construction and announced (some via company Web sites) since 2000, have been scrapped, indefinitely sidetracked or slower to begin than desired/anticipated.
Multi-unit residential projects: Fourth & Jackson (Crosswinds), Harrison Lofts, Laurel, Meridian, Metropolitan 8, Monroe, The Avenues at Twenty-Fourth and Fairfax, The Chesterfield, The Manning, Symphony Tower/The SoBro, Treble Flats, West End Flats, 112 Harding Place and 6th & Garfield.
Mixed-use buildings, office buildings and hotels: Cumberland Yacht Harbor, Griffin Plaza, Lionstone Roundabout development, One Music Row, Regions center addition, Signature Tower, Sounds/Streuver Bros. complex, The H20 Urban Waterfront District, The Melrose, The Westin/Broadway Hotel, West End Summit, 5 East, 30North, 12th South Station, 1201 Demonbreun and 17th & Broadway.
Lastly, work remains as uncertain as Alec Baldwin’s ability to avoid self-implosion on these proposed civic structures: Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School gymnasium, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Tennessee State Museum and The Museum of African-American Music Art & Culture.
That’s 34 projects. If one-third materialize, Nashville will be lucky.
Encouragingly, on-site work is underway on West End Station, 1700 Midtown, Hill Center at Belle Meade and Rolling Mill Hill’s The District. Similarly, construction should resume soon at the dormant Acropolis work site.
Nashville developers could take a cue from Haury & Smith. Known for suburban home designs more vanilla than Montgomery Gentry song lyrics, the company didn’t mess around with its Ten Ten on The Row. No press releases, silly groundbreaking ceremonies or unrealistic start dates.
Haury & Smith simply began building.
Too bad it doesn’t work that way every time.
William Williams is a citizen observer of Nashville’s manmade environment. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org