Developers increase height of planned 24-hour diner building

Structure would rise six stories on SoBro lot, faces Metro approval

The developers behind the Avenue Diner building and business planned for SoBro are proposing an updated design that, if approved by Metro, would be one of the most unusual building layouts for a Nashville eatery.

The new design (seen below) shows the building at six stories instead of the previously proposed four. Few, if any, Nashville buildings accommodate restaurants, bars and/or cafés spanning that number of floors. The building would be upwards of 75 feet tall and offer modest width. As such, it will rank among Nashville’s most distinctive structures in terms of  height-to-width proportionality contrast.

Steve Smith and Al Ross, who created Avenue Diner LLC for the development, go before the Metro Board of Zoning Appeals on Sept. 4 to request approval of the new design, which now includes the allowance of a 16-foot sidewalk as Metro contends is needed as required by its downtown code. The building's floors 2-6 would cantilever over the sidewalk, with the bottom of the second floor being about 16 feet above sidewalk level.

The new design will add approximately $1 million to the project’s cost, as the building, if Metro approves the design, will be steel frame instead of stick frame, according to Steve Meisner, Avenue Diner LLC counsel and an attorney with Brewer Krause Brooks Chastain & Burrow.

Meisner said the development team is optimistic Metro will approve the new design, which the Metropolitan Housing and Development Agency Design Review Committee previously rejected primarily due to the lack of what it felt was insufficient sidewalk space.

“We asked what objection the committee had for the design and the single complaint was the sidewalk,” Meisner said.

Meisner said a non-design-related concern, live music, will not be an issue, as Smith and Ross have never intended to offer such. He added the building, designed by local architecture company Quirk Designs, will not have an exposed rooftop for diners.

Avenue Diner, which would operate 24 hours per day and be patterned after Junior’s in New York City, would be located at the southeast corner of the Demonbreun Street and Third Avenue intersection. The project drew scrutiny in June when MDHA alleged the project violated the conditions of its building permit.