The Nashville Downtown Partnership hopes to receive within the next few weeks an assessment of SoBro’s long-term retail prospects.
The partnership has placed on retainer Downtown Works Inc., a Seattle-based retail consulting firm. DW officials Midge McCauley and Kelly Kost spent Monday and Tuesday in Nashville, with the focus on SoBro retail.
Crissy Cassetty, NDP retail recruiter, said the DW duo met with various downtown developers and property owners. She said SoBro’s retail future will be “an equal focus” on food/beverage retail and on soft-goods retail (clothing, home accessories, gifts, etc.).
As to SoBro’s long-term retail prospects, Cassetty said Downtown Works visited Nashville, in part, to provide an update for the partnership’s 2008 Downtown Nashville Retail Strategy and Merchandising Mix Plan.
McCauley, DW founder and principal, said a challenge will be the fact that the SoBro lacks closely sited buildings with contiguous retail space. Indeed, the district’s new buildings (and those expected to be built in the future) are almost exclusively free-standing structures with uniform retail space, if they offer any space at all. This could render any future retail to operate in pockets of sorts, according to McCauley.
“Nashville is now getting the critical mass of buildings in SoBro but most [of those buildings] are not designed for retail,” she said.
Still, McCauley is bullish on SoBro.
“We were very pleased when we saw the Omni and how the retail spaces will have entrances on Fifth Avenue,” she said. “We think that is very important.”