Trio plans adaptive reuse project for historic North Nashville buildings

BowTruss developers buy nearby Geist site for $750K

One of Nashville’s most historic properties has changed ownership hands, with the buyers known for taking existing buildings and adaptively repurposing them.

Allen Arender, Tom Gibson and Ronnie Wenzler created 311 Forge LLC to purchase the land and two buildings last home to John Geist and Sons Blacksmith Shop. Late last week, the trio paid $750,000 for the Geist family property, which sits next to the buyers’ Bow Truss Building in Sulphur Dell, and are planning to rehab the buildings. The property (seen below in an image courtesy of Google Maps) fronts Jefferson Street between Third and Fourth avenues across from Germantown in North Nashville and within a block of the site that will be home to the new Nashville Sounds ballpark.

Of note, John Geist and Sons Blacksmith Shop, until it ceased operations in 2006, was believed to be the city’s oldest business in continuous family ownership and operation, according to Tennessee Encyclopedia. Founded in 1886, the business focused on horseshoe making, crafting ornamental ironwork, and, toward its end, repairing lawnmowers. The buildings were listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. 

“The thing that drove our interest was the existence of what appeared to be time capsule buildings,” said Wenzler (on right in photo). “We have to determine what is salvageable of the buildings and what can, with care and the right approach, be saved or modified in some way to retain character. The property is a monument to a different time.”

Arender (on left in photo) said the team will attempt to understand the condition of the buildings and “what we have to work with.”

“It’s a small site,” he said. “To make this economically feasible, we have to do our homework on these structures.”

Arrender and Gibson are vice president of development and senior vice president and partner, respectively, at the Nashville office of Indiana-based Holladay Properties. Wenzler serves as managing director at Cassidy Turley Commercial Real Estate Services.

In addition to the aforementioned BowTruss Building, the trio is working on The Sheds on Charlotte and completed a few years ago The Sawtooth Building. All are adaptive reuse projects.

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