The plans by Lee Co. executives to move their headquarters from Cool Springs to Boyle's Berry Farms development a few miles farther south got a boost Tuesday night, when Franklin officials approved a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan for the company. The mechanical contractor plans to relocate to Berry Farms in 2017 and will add almost 70 jobs, growing its total HQ payroll past 500. Williamson County officials also have approved a tax incentive package.
Last week, a Nashville-based development entity led by Travis Kelty acquired for $5.26 million the 1.8-acre Division Street site on which it plans a mixed-use high-rise.
Kelty and his team are eyeing the $75 million 23-story Crescendo for the site, which includes the building home to Myers Flooring. The partnership created Highpoint Division Partners for the acquisition of the property, which straddles the edges of both The Gulch and SoBro.
Crescendo would include 303 apartment units with ground-level retail shops and restaurant space and an attached 600-space parking garage. The building is projected to be 350,000 square feet.
Post Managing Editor William Williams caught up with Kelty to get a quick update.
What is the next step?
We need to finalize the design plan and determine if we’re going to have the building be 23 stories. If so, we will need a specific plan zoning.
Are all the players (including the Nashville office of Gresham Smith & Partners) previously reported still involved?
On that theme, why did you choose Atlanta-based architect KPS?
They were referred to us by our general contractor (Roy Anderson Co. of Gulfport, Mississippi, an affiliate of Tutor Perini Company)
How is the effort going to finance the project?
The first step is to secure the project equity and a development partner. Arranging the debt [via a lender] will follow.
Are you considering condos?
We are designing the units as high-end rental apartments with condo amenities.
If all went well, when might you break ground?
We will need at least six months to do the construction plans. Then Myers will need to vacate the building so that we can demolish it. It could easily be eight months before a groundbreaking.
On that theme, work is now underway on the Division Street Extension. Your thoughts?
Our timing seems to be right with the commencement of construction on the new bridge that will connect SoBro with The Gulch. This bridge will provide great connectivity between the two neighborhoods. We have to give [former Mayor Karl Dean] credit for his forward thinking and vision for this area. The bridge will be a catalyst for the redevelopment of the southern part of SoBro and the southeastern quadrant of The Gulch. I believe that this area will transform in short order into a vibrant neighborhood for Nashvillians to live, work and play. I am confident that Mayor [Megan] Barry will carry this vision forward.
Since the late 1990s, Nashville has seen the addition of numerous noteworthy large-scale buildings.
Examples include Adelicia, Bridgestone Arena, Music City Center, The Pinnacle at Symphony Place and Terrazzo.
However, a diminutive two-story structure now open in 12South (and offering both ground-level retail and top-floor apartments) might be more significant — given that its simplicity is so refreshing for our fast-changing city.
Understatedly clad in white brick and offering a timeless design, Becker’s Corner (as it’s called) represents exactly the type building Nashville has lost in disturbing numbers since the 1950s and, as such, needs so badly to restore a certain dignity to our built fabric.
Simply put, such pedestrian-scaled masonry buildings provide a characteristic lacking with the many modernist-flavored, and often massive, additions to our city: charm.
There is nothing fancy about Becker’s Corner. And that is its appeal. Unlike many of the buildings Nashville is landing nowadays — with their seemingly requisite hodge-podge of colors, materials and forms — this little building is tasteful in its noticeable lack thereof. It showcases symmetry, a balance between the windows and the well-defined entrance, and a nicely executed height-to-width proportionality. Such tried-and-true design applications rarely fail. With Becker’s Corner, these characteristics shine.
And then there are the subtle touches: the side door (which allows the apartment dwellers a sidewalk access option in addition to rear entry and exit), the playful blue touches, the traditional awnings and exterior lights that entice folks to tempt retailer Draper James, a perfect blend of brick arrangements (not too busy but sufficiently visually interesting) and the building’s “attachment” to the adjacent brick structure home to Summer Classics. The latter element is almost militantly old-school.
Nashville once had hundreds of such smallish commercial buildings. Now their numbers are modest. In the last few years, we have seen the loss of such structures in Hillsboro Village (are more to follow?), on Division Street (visualize the little gems once home to Mario’s and Ken’s Sushi), in Midtown on 17th (where SkyHouse Nashville now rises) and in SoBro (I still miss the two-story brick and stone building that sat on what is now the roundabout at Eighth and KVB).
And more are to be demolished. The future toppling of the Midtown building home to J-J’s Market will be painful. The little buildings on Church Street and catty corner from the Downtown YMCA will surely be razed. Who knows the fate of downtown’s Berger Building (which sits on Rosa Parks Boulevard within the possible footprint of the long-awaited federal courthouse)?
With additional little brick commercial buildings offering traditional designs to surely be lost, it is important we add to the city’s built fabric with their 21st century counterparts.
True, some local architects will scoff, noting designs must be true to a building’s context, time and place. Why implement materials, forms and massing that were popular in the 1920s when we can push the envelope and go “cutting edge”? It’s a valid question. And if Nashville over the years had not lost 90 percent of its small commercial masonry buildings, the need for newer versions would not be so great.
But we have brutalized our urban manmade fabric — particularly in Midtown — with commercial buildings that are modernist monstrosities, many of them essentially synthetic stucco junk.
True, land costs likely will not allow a developer to undertake a Becker’s Corner-esque building in, say, SoBro, The Gulch or Midtown. But Five Points/East Nashville, Germantown, Hillsboro Village, Jefferson Street and 12South are primed for such structures.
Sometimes, it’s best to keep things simple.
Nashville-based developer The Shop Trust understood this maxim. It could have opted for a more contemporary and bold look for Becker’s Corner. Instead the entity directed Benjamin Sohr's Pencil & Paper Co. and Ireland Architectural Services, both local entities, to do otherwise.
The result is highly successful.
Let us hope that success will spur other developers to give the city more such buildings.
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