Amazon HQ2

Corporate giant Amazon is on a national search for HQ2. A second but equal headquarter office setting off a bidding war across the nation.

This is a mega opportunity for any city. Below are details provided by Amazon:

  • Fifty Thousand (50,000) new full time employees
  • Average total compensation exceeding $100,000
  • 8,000,000+ square feet
  • $5 Billion in capital expenditures

In this blog, I think BIG and creative. This HQ2 opportunity is really exciting.  Landing it immediately changes the profile of any city.  Nashville must think big enough to match this opportunity.  I want to present a big and creative idea.

The opportunity is too large for one single development firm or site.  The city/ state needs to pull together multiple development sites within the Nashville CBD and layout a clear public infrastructure upgrade/ investment plan.

Site Plan

I propose getting the Nashville Yards (Lifeway), Gannett/ N. Gulch & West End Summit site developers together on the same page with a master plan.  Together, rough calculations of the floor to area ratio @ 5 to 1 is 6.5+ million buildable square feet.  More if you increase the traditional density/ height.  In addition, there are multiple parcels available in the immediate areas to increase footprint.  I have more sites/ ideas but thought this one is unique and well located.

 

Big Creative Idea

What if Nashville covers the railroads that divide the Rail Yards & N. Gulch?  That covered space can link the two sites and establish a much-needed green space to that area of downtown Nashville.  Turing an eyesore and noise nuisance into an attractive urban amenity. See the link below for a post I made on the topic:

http://www.kwasekcre.com/nashville-renaissance-gulch-sobro-pedestrian-connector/

 

It is a complex idea and difficult working with the railroad companies.  Nashville has pulled off great feats in the past that had city altering effects.  For example, building Nashville Arena with no tenant.  Ultimately, the city landed an NHL franchise (Predators) which was/ is a key factor in revitalizing lower Broadway. Second, building the new Music City Convention Center in the depths of the Great Recession.   The MCC helped to reshape SoBro and our city’s national profile.

 

Underground Transit

A phase of the Mayor’s underground proposal can run from the Rail Yards to West End Summit. Connecting Amazon employees & the sites together.  And provide further access into lower Broadway, Nissan Stadium and further west out of town.

 

List of Criteria

Population 1 Million+: ✓

Stable & Business Friendly: ✓

A+ Infill CBD Location: ✓

International Airport: ✓

Proximity to Highways & Arterial Roads: ✓

Mass Transit: ✓

8+ Million SF: ✓

Larger cities are at a competitive disadvantage.   They are already built out.  8+ million square feet is a large footprint.  Finding that footprint well located in a CBD might prove difficult for other cities.  Nashville has much to offer.

The Tennessean: Gulch’s Carquest site sold for high-rise apartment project

Alliance-Broadstone-Gulch-01

A Phoenix-based multifamily developer has paid $5.15 million for the former location of Carquest Auto Parts at Eighth and Division in the Gulch where it plans an apartments project.

Alliance Residential Co. planned a 14-story high rise tower with 225 apartment units and 4,000 square feet of retail space for 777 Eighth Ave. S., according to a preliminary draft plan that the developer submitted to a city review board earlier this year.

Carquest has moved out of the 13,200-square-foot warehouse-style retail building on the 0.94 property, which had been home to an auto parts store since at least the ’80s.

Read More….

 

Nashville: Surging Into 2015

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2014 was nothing short of amazing. Investments into all sectors of commercial real estate were rewarded with record sales. Nashville made more national lists and our city leads the nation in population and job growth. Rapid job growth, low unemployment and national exposure means many opportunities lie ahead in 2015.

How does the drop in oil and tumult in international markets affect our local market? What does that mean for our community in 2015? Read on for further insights and my thoughts on the market.
….

To keep reading click on the link below:

KCRE Newsletter April 2015 (PDF)

 

Nashville Renaissance: Hillsboro Village

Hillsboro Village is transitioning.  The Village was Nashville’s first urban community to benefit from Nashville’s new planning guidelines.  Perhaps it never really declined.  That said, today all the trendy restaurants are opening up elsewhere.  Add to that Boscos, Sunset Grill and multiple restaurants next to Cabana have all come and are now gone.  Once the place to be and be seen is not in Hillsboro Village anymore.  East Nashville, 12th South, Germantown and other pockets have stolen Nashville’s attention.  

This is not a doomsday prediction for Hillsboro Village.  It will always be at the doorstep to Vanderbilt University.  Last I checked, Vanderbilt is not going anywhere.  Pancake Pantry, Jackson’s, Fido & Sam’s are staples to our community.  What I want to discuss is what will the Village look like in 5, 10, or 15 years.  And with that vision… how can an investor make a correct investment.  

 In the future, I see the Village as a commercial district that supports the University and residents in the vicinity.  The traveling business persons and tourist are now attracted to  lower Broadway/ SoBro/ The Gulch & Midtown.  Those areas are growing together into one large mixed use neighborhood.  Some tourist will frequent Hillsboro Village, however, as a side show to the real action in town.  

 If my vision is correct, then my vision for 21st Ave to I-440 is important for the continued positive evolution of Hillsboro Village.  

Nashville Renaissance: 21st Ave to 440

I’m talking about the stretch of 21st Ave just south of the “traditional” Hillsboro Village area all the way to the I 440 exchange. For decades this area has been a healthy and stable pocket of Nashville commercial real estate. There has been very little if any investment sales activity since I first moved here in 2006. The current owners have no reason to sell. It is the toughest question I must answer: “If I sell, then where is a better place to invest my money?” Many times, unfortunately for this humble broker, I do not have a compelling answer. And so for decades little has turned over.

I see that is about to change. The street’s ownership is aging and the cycle of life is happening.

Add in this thought: I see more interest and activity, both residential and commercial, centered around the 12th South commercial district. Vanderbilt and adjacent Hillsboro Village will always be the 800 pound guerrilla of Nashville.

Multiple factors are contributing to this phenomenon. First, 12th South was much more depressed. Developers and homeowners were able to buy cheaper properties to tear down and or fix up. Second, the emergence of the commercial district and the urban infill live, work play concept is very much viable along 12th South.

I’m a firm believer in Nashville Planning’s vision of Nashville. Starting decades ago, they sought to revitalize Nashville centered around clustered urban neighborhoods. The first to take shape being Hillsboro Village. Their work and vision is taking off and it is exciting to be a part of each day.

Adding to their vision of Nashville, I’d like to see them extend Hillsboro Village all the way to the I-440 exchange. Currently, most properties in this stretch of 21st Ave S are zoned OR 20. Office/ Residential, 20 units per acre. No retail is allowed.

As the commercial properties start to turn over after a long period of stability, I’d like to see this stretch of 21st Ave turn into a mixed use community. Yes, we’d have to be careful to strike a balance. Allow for retail and restaurants. Require new development be pushed up to the street.

An updated or new overlay will benefit everyone. As we’ve seen elsewhere, residential values will increase and commercial properties will garner more interest.

Nashville Renaissance: Gulch-SoBro Pedestrian Connector

The Gulch-SoBro pedestrian bridge debate has reignited. In general, I am in favor of connecting the two districts.

Utilizing my “Reverse Engineering” theme from my previous post, we are missing a bigger opportunity. What are some short comings of the Gulch & SoBro? First, lack of green space. Second, noise from the railroads.

What if you tunneled in the railroads?

A couple of years ago I read an article in Forbes (link below) that captured my imagination. Billionaire Stephen Ross of The Related Cos is attempting the most significant private development in Manhattan since John D. Rockefeller built Rockefeller Center in the 1930s.

HudsonYardsProject

 

Stephen Ross: The Billionaire Who Is Rebuilding New York

Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project

PennStation

 

Fast forward a couple of years and my idea stems from reading this Forbes article.

On top of the tunnels is green space for parks. Same access points. In the end you’d have a pocket park/ green space that adds much more to the surrounding communities. The Gulch does not need help, however, SoBro could use a boost. North Gulch? Capital View? LifeWay Christian/ Gannett land? All these areas are suddenly much more valuable and interesting to redevelop. Increasing the tax base along the way.  Phase I can be a small pocket park but can be expanded as finances and growth allow.

I understand how unrealistic my idea sounds from a logistics and financial perspective. Even in small phases this project will be much more costly than a pedestrian bridge. I’m not pretending to have all the answers. I’m trying to think long term 100+ year plan. Being ambitious maybe someday this park can connect to the Riverfront Parks via the Bicentennial Park north of the CBD? Central Park is a special asset of NYC.  Maybe we can create our own world renown urban environment with ample green space?

Nashville Renaissance: Reverse Engineering

Thought I’d take a moment to explain how I think. Not exactly sure where I learned it. I guess it more or less evolved. I call it reverse engineering. I explain because it will be how I approach many posts.

I start by approaching a subject, problem or issue with “what is perfect?”. In a vacuum without reality what is ideal here? Then take a honest assessment of the current situation.

How different is ideal and reality? Is there a way to take reality and make perfect?

I understand you cannot always have perfect. But at least you can have a direction. Something to work towards.

Nashville Renaissance

Why the name Nashville Renaissance? Music City is booming. New developments, population growth, jobs growth. Most of that boom is taking place in our urban core and surrounding neighborhoods.

I moved to Nashville in January 2006. My first job was based in Brentwood underwriting commercial real estate loans. Most of our activity (and investor interest) was with Brentwood, Franklin/ Cool Springs, Green Hills and West End.

Midtown consisted of Noshville, Broadway Brewhouse and the Corner Pub.  The Gulch was just kicking into gear and the Icon was under construction.

Then the Great Recession hit and all our worlds collapsed overnight. Emerging from the Great Recession subtle trends and differences emerged. Our urban neighborhoods took off.

I’m proudly from Buffalo, NY. The city’s greatest export is it’s people. Large chunks of the city are vacant and blighted. To quote the Goo Goo Dolls “Broadway’s dark tonight.”

Many factors are contributing to this urban renewal:
– Millennials moving to Nashville (recent grads, etc) wanting to live where they play
– Empty nesters looking to downside and be closer to town
– Less social tension of decades past

Personally, I love seeing these communities coming back to life. Maybe I appreciate it more than most because of where I grew up. Its exciting to be apart of rebuilding a city. I have been told I have “developer blood” and agree. When I drive down a street, I see what can be, not what is. I’m seeing a rebirth or “renaissance” taking place in Music City.

Nashville: Economic Update June 2014

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The secret is out!  Nashville is the investment world’s “It” city right now.  Media outlets are announcing new projects on a daily basis.  Nashville is named a top American city again and again by an endless list of national surveys and media.

 

Do you ever stop and ask why?  Is it sustainable?  Short answer: YES! There are substantial reasons for Nashville’s boom. Keep reading and you will see for yourself!

KCRE Newsletter (PDF)

 

 

NBJ – Stonehenge Plans Another Music Row Apartment Project

Artisan

Nashville-based Stonehenge Real Estate Group will soon break ground on a 153-unit apartment project in the Music Row area.  Artisan on 18th will be located at the intersection of 18th Avenue South and Chet Atkins Place, with plans to open by late summer 2014.

Read More….