Developer, neighbors seek compromise for Gulch-area project

Planned building to be modified

Nashville-based Gulchetto Enterprises Inc. and the Edgehill Village Neighborhood Association are working on a compromise that, once finalized, would yield a much different development than the former had originally planned — and that the latter had opposed.

Originally, Gulchetto envisioned a 41-unit, three-story apartment building for the residential area located on the south side of the inner-interstate loop from the Gulch (read more here). The area — bordered by 12th Avenue on the east, the inner-interstate on the north, 16th Avenue on the west and South Street on the south — transitions the building-dense and intense Gulch to the single-family homes within Edgehill. As such, some developers feel it eventually could accommodate some three- to five-story multi-unit residential buildings.

Gulchetto was to have gone before the Metro Planning Commission last Thursday to request to rezone the site, located at 1212 Hawkins St. and 1119 and 1121 Sigler St., from multi-unit residential to specific plan. The SP would provide for additional flexibility of design and up to 45 units (a number Gulchetto was leaning toward). The Metro Planning Department staff had recommended an approval.

However, the association is concerned about the building’s potential height and number of units, so Gulchetto — after meeting with the neighbors and Metro Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, in whose District 19 the property sits — will likely reschedule the meeting with the commission for August.

Byron Roberts and Bill Ruff own the land and are working with Jody Roberts and local developer Brent Smith, who is serving as the project’s spokesman.

“We are seeking a compromise and what we’ll likely want to do is a building with 30 units — 15 for sale and 15 for rent, or some variation of those numbers,” Smith said. “From a financial point of view, it makes more sense [than a building of, for example 30 rental units].”

With this arrangement, Smith said there could be a chance for some affordable units (i.e., units that have an maximum income component for the tenants).

Smith said he and Marshall Hall, a member of both the Edgehill Village Neighborhood Association board and executive committee, have maintained contact during the process.

Hall said the neighbors want a two-story building instead of three. However, he added the neighbors are not opposed to height in general, as they largely support Lennar Multifamily Communities' efforts to have land rezoned in nearby Midtown for a 17-story tower (read here).

Hall said the association would prefer 20 units but could be open to compromise if there is a home ownership component to the development.

“The level of density originally planned is, in our opinion, a bit much for where the building will sit,” Hall said, adding that 45 units would be three-times the number the current zoning allows.

Gilmore said she is taking a measured approach to the matter.

“I see the value in increasing the density on the desired property considering there is a limited amount of land in the urban core,” she said. “However, there is much validity to the residents’ point of smart growth in the neighborhood. It is my hope that both the neighbors and developers will find a point of compromise that is equally reasonable to both parties.”

Hall stressed the neighbors, in general, favor urban-oriented development (i.e., mixed-use, larger-scale and pedestrian focused) in the nearby Gulch and Music Row districts. But the quiet residential streets of Edgehill need to be preserved, he added.

“One of our concerns is that this will be precedent-setting development because it does encroach into our neighborhood,” he said. “But this is the first time we have expressed concerns about a development to this extent. We support overall the planned development by Forestar Group (to be located on 17th Avenue South; read more here). And we support Lennar’s project.”

Smith said a compromise is doable, noting, “Everybody wants to get to the same place and we’ll get there.”