Williamson, Davidson residents fight 850-acre development

Residents from Williamson and Davidson counties grabbed their signs and posted them at the Sneed Road-Temple Road intersection to protest an upcoming mega-housing development.

“This is the country part to the town and country lifestyle,” said Laura Turner, who lives off Old Natchez Trace.

The $1 billion Rochford development intends to build 1,400 custom homes on the Williamson County side, plus a boutique hotel, restaurant and office space on the Davidson County side in Bellevue.

Just a few years ago, Turner fought to save the historic road. Now, she thinks it might be endangered again, on top of the eight national landmarks in the 850-acre development.

Others worry about an increase in the already problematic traffic, as well as a coinciding lack of infrastructure improvements.

“The developers aren’t gonna pay for the roads or improve the roads,” said Al Briggs, a Stephens Valley resident. “That’s going to be on the taxpayers.”

While developer John Rochford intends to leave some space green, the protesters said they are still concerned about the character of the area.

“He’s going to leave 60 percent of it green, well the reason he’s gonna leave 60 percent of it is because he can’t build on it,” said Bellevue resident Brian Foraker. “But he doesn’t tell you that.”

The group is encouraging neighbors to voice their concerns at the Williamson County Highway Department meeting at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at 302 Beasley Drive in Franklin. For more information, visit http://www.savestephensvalley.com.


It’s official: Giarratana’s skyscraper is fully financed

Yet another construction crane will appear in downtown Nashville’s skyline before Christmas, and it’s for a landmark project — a tower that will be the city’s second-tallest building.

On Thursday, Nashville developer Tony Giarratana finished closing on all necessary financing for his $169 million skyscraper at a corner of Church Street and Fifth Avenue North. Portions of both roads will periodically be closed during construction.

The tower, scheduled to open in late 2017, will stand 543 feet tall. It will be surpassed only by the iconic AT&T tower, affectionately known as the Batman Building for its twin spires that reach 617 feet into the air.

Giarratana’s tower, named 505, will be 45 stories and contain 550 apartments. The top third of the building will be accessed by a separate lobby and elevator system, positioning Giarratana to sell those units as condos, provided he persuades his lenders to change the terms of his newly signed loan documents to permit him to do so.
Those newly signed documents mean Giarratana has all the money needed to finally develop the property that has been the crown jewel of his portfolio for at least the last decade. Most notably, before the recession struck, Giarratana had marketed a building named Signature Tower, which was designed to be the tallest building in the entire Southeast.

Downtown Nashville’s resident population has grown 60 percent in the past five years, projected to top a headcount of 8,000 by year’s end. City officials have coveted that population growth as a way to rejuvenate the city center. They’ve not been shy about using public aid to help foster development, a pattern that’s become increasingly controversial, including the $12.5 million Giarratana received for this latest tower.

No single developer has created more apartments and condos in Nashville’s urban core than Giarratana. He created downtown’s first apartment high-rise and its first condo high-rise, both of which are nearby on Church Street. Giarratana’s downtown portfolio now stands at 1,790 units, if you include the 505 tower and a 33-story apartment tower in SoBro, both of which are now under construction.
The $93.9 million construction loan for the 505 tower comes from Bank of the Ozarks. The bank, based in Little Rock, Ark., is increasingly active in Nashville. Public records show that starting in 2014, the bank has provided at least $261 million for commercial construction. They’re all high-profile: the 27-story Westin under construction in SoBro, the $100 million mixed-use development in Midtown by Buckingham Cos. and early development of the OneCity project on Charlotte Avenue.

As we previously reported, Giarratana obtained $37.6 million of mezzanine financing from Chicago-based LaSalle Investment Management. Along with $25 million of investor equity, Giarratana obtained loans from First Advantage Bank and Reliant Bank for a combined $12.5 million — money backed by a commitment of tax revenue from the Metropolitan Development and Housing Authority.

The 505 tower will be built on 0.4 acres fronting Church Street. Giarratana last year sold the 0.8 acres behind that property to MDHA, which is under construction on a public parking garage that will include spaces for the residents of Giarratana’s tower.

Adam Sichko
Senior Reporter
Nashville Business Journal

Phoenix developer pays scorching price for prime Charlotte Avenue site

A Phoenix businessman who made his fortune in advertising has emerged as the highest bidder for property on rapidly changing Charlotte Avenue, land that was formerly home to a Metro fire station.

The $5.45 million bid is more than triple what the 1.6-acre property appraised for in 2013. Repeat, more than triple. It’s just another dollop of proof of how much real estate investors are clamoring for land along a corridor into downtown that is undergoing a sweeping renaissance (playing out on our Crane Watch development map).firstation*750xx800-450-0-43

The offer from Levine Investments LP was the highest bid in Metro’s auction of the site at 327 21st Ave. N., which ended Feb. 24. The land spans the block of Charlotte between 21st and 22nd avenues north. It’s diagonally across from the rehabbed office space now home to the 110 employees of software company L-3 ForceX, and two blocks from a 280-unit apartment complex under construction.

Rich Riebeling, who is Metro’s chief operating officer, disclosed the purchase price to me late Wednesday during an unrelated interview. He couldn’t help but chuckle in amazement as he read the price tag to me over the phone, sounding bemused and a little baffled at how high it was.

That winning bidder is a real estate investment and development company founded by William Levine. Back in 1980, Levine created a billboard advertising company named Outdoor Systems. Four years later, he added Arturo Moreno as a part-owner (today, Moreno owns the Los Angeles Angels Major League Baseball franchise). Outdoor Systems went public in the mid-1990s and then sold to Infinity Broadcasting Corp. in 1999 for $8.7 billion. For years afterward, Levine appeared on Forbes’ list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, though he did not make the cut in the most recent edition.

It wasn’t immediately possible to ascertain Levine’s plans for his new Nashville real estate. A call to the company was not immediately returned.
The successor to the fire station on that property was built last year on 26th Avenue North, one block off Charlotte Avenue.

Adam Sichko
Senior Reporter
Nashville Business Journal

A real, actual condo development in Nashville, funded and ready to start

In Nashville’s epic real estate boom, where seemingly everything’s being built everywhere, Bobby Kirby is a perplexing rarity: A developer who’s actually secured all the money he needs to create a condo building.
Kirby is the point man for a group of fellow Tennessee investors named Eighth South LLC. The group expects to start construction next month on a $20 million project with 52 condos and 18,000 square feet of space for bars and restaurants — one of two developments jointly overhauling the site of the former Colonial Bakery at 2407 Franklin Pike, immediately south of downtown.


Condos are the glaring and curious omission from a construction party punctuated by all the cranes in the skyline. Our Crane Watch development map displays 84 multifamily projects; only seven involve condos, and just three of those are actually financed and under construction. This, despite a downtown population that’s grown 60 percent in the past five years, with the Nashville Downtown Partnership projecting another 18 percent gain by the end of this year. Downtown doesn’t even have a two-month’s supply of resale units, which is a third of the level considered “healthy,” according to the partnership.

Even that apparent demand, which the Eighth South project will test, hasn’t been enough to persuade an important group: bankers. They recall (and may even be still recovering from) the crash of the housing market that triggered the Great Recession (and sunk Nashville’s condo market). Broadly speaking, they’re requiring developers to secure nonrefundable deposits from would-be buyers on a greater number of condo units than before, in order to activate a loan that would fund construction. Condo developments are also more complicated than an apartment complex, which allow year-to-year tinkering with rent — flexibility that isn’t there when selling condos.

First National Bank of Middle Tennessee provided a $12 million construction loan toward the Eighth South project — and did not require any such presales. Kirby attributed that not just to the bank but also the credibility of his partners, who include Jim Caden and Dave Arnholt, longtime investors in the Gulch and Midtown. There’s also the fact that the investor group is providing 40 percent of the project’s total cost in equity, a higher-than-usual rate that is mostly attributed to the value of its 2.3 acres of land.

The majority of the condos will be priced between $250,000 and $300,000, Kirby said. Forty-two of the 52 condos will be one-bedroom units, at an average of 800 square feet. There will be 10 two-bedroom condos, at about 1,200 square feet, Kirby said.
Kirby said he anticipates the condos will be approved for FHA loans, or mortgages that are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (protecting a bank from taking a loss if a borrower defaults on the loan).”That will allow a buyer, especially in the millennial market, to purchase a condo with very little money out of pocket … like a 3 percent downpayment,” Kirby said.

The building could open in the first quarter of 2017. Behind it, Phoenix developer Alliance Residential Co. is under construction on a 330-unit apartment complex.
The building features a two-story space for a bar and restaurant. “That will be the real key to making a statement on this project,” Kirby said.
Kirby said he is in talks with a few potential tenants for that space. In addition, he said he is in final negotiations on a lease with what he described as a “high-end breakfast/lunch concept.”

Adam Sichko
Senior Reporter
Nashville Business Journal

The urban core is too hot, so apartment developer seeks profit in West Nashville

A Birmingham-based developer announced its second Nashville apartment project on Tuesday. True to its word, the company is not developing a property in the city’s urban core, where prices are surging for both developers and renters alike.

LIV Development’s 224-unit apartment complex will be located just west of the Walmart Supercenter on River Road, which is a mile beyond the Nashville West shopping center on Charlotte Pike. The developer’s first Nashville project is a 291-unit complex under construction in East Nashville, but as a company executive told me last year, ” I don’t think rents can continue to increase at the rate that land prices and construction costs are increasing.”


Those skyrocketing land prices and difficulty finding and retaining enough skilled laborers pushed LIV Development to look to suburban areas like West Nashville — a dynamic similar to how leaping rents in Nashville’s city center are now unaffordable for many who used to live there, leading them to look elsewhere for housing. LIV’s new, $30 million apartment complex will be located about nine miles from downtown. At least one competitor is following a similar pattern: Charleston, S.C.-based The Beach Co. is developing its first Nashville apartment complex in SoBro, and then bought land for a 400-unit complex in this same area, just west of the shopping center.

LIV plans to create one-, two- and three-bedroom units in buildings that will be two or three stories tall. The average apartment will be a little larger than 1,000 square feet, and rent for between $1,200 to $1,700 per month.
Sliced another way, that monthly rent will average to about $1.40 per square foot, LIV Development said. At a bare minimum, that’s at least $1 per square foot less than what you’ll pay for most apartments in the urban core these days.

The company is under contract to buy 56 wooded acres, partly at the address of 5820 River Road, for a publicly undisclosed sum. The joint landowners are Gregory Perrone and Joey Smith. It looks like LIV Development will not need a zoning change to do the project.
Crumpton said his company intends to preserve as much of those woods as possible. He pledged “a unique tree house resort setting along the river.”
Crumpton said he expects to start construction next quarter. The work will take 18 months, which means the complex could be open before the end of 2017.
Nequette Architecture and Design, of Birmingham, is involved in the project, as is Nashville-based landscape architect Hodgson & Douglas.

Adam Sichko
Senior Reporter
Nashville Business Journal

Developer buys land for Gulch’s tallest building

The Indianapolis-based developer that intends to build the tallest building in the Gulch now owns the land needed to pull off the project.
The Tennessean reports that Buckingham Cos. paid roughly $3 million for the 0.48-acre site at 701 12th Ave. S., currently a parking lot operated by Tony Giarratana’s Premier Parking. According to the newspaper, Buckingham bought the site with help from a nearly $2.5 million loan from U.S. Bank.


Metro officials gave Buckingham permission in October to construct a 38-story skyscraper at the site, 10 stories higher than what the site’s existing zoning would have allowed. That proposed height startled some Gulch neighbors, who retained an attorney as part of successful negotiations on some tweaks to the building’s design.

Scott Travis, a senior vice president with Buckingham, told the Nashville Business Journal last fall that the building — which would include 250 to 300 residential units — likely will not be complete for about three years.
Buckingham is also developing the Aertson Midtown mixed-use project across from Vanderbilt.


Williamson Chamber previews trends


Williamson County is slated to continue seeing skyrocketing population growth and a hot real estate market, according to early statistics from the county Chamber of Commerce’s annual trends report.

The full, roughly 30-page report will be released on March 15 at Williamson, Inc.’s Outlook Williamson event, a news release said. That event is set to take place from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at The Factory at Franklin.

“Outlook Williamson is the single best place to get a comprehensive look at how our county compares regionally and nationally,” Chamber CEO Matt Largen said in a statement.

In a brief preview that included some of the figures, data analysis firm Alcott Whitney found that the county’s tech job numbers will grow over the next decade, as will the number of jobs overall — by almost 146,000.

By 2040, according to the report preview, Williamson County is expected to have more than half a million residents.

That means that in roughly 25 years, Williamson will have more than any Tennessee county does now, minus Shelby and Davidson.

And a large portion of the county’s residents will have moved from out of the region.

According to this year’s preview data, 17 percent of new residents are likely to have come from India.

Those growth and diversity projections, in recent years, have driven long-term planning efforts by local governments and school officials.

Thompson’s Station, for example, recently revamped its zoning code to try to allow for growth that doesn’t eliminate the town’s rural appeal.

And Williamson County Schools leaders are scrambling to accommodate an influx of students.

The early stats also showed high housing prices and a market with rapid turnover.

Homes are on the market for an average of 54 days. In the county, there are roughly 2,742 vacant homes.

The county’s median home price is about $410,450.

Jill Cowan, jcowan@tennessean.com

50K Tree Day


Tennessee State Parks will partner with the Tennessee Environmental Council for the second annual 50K Tree Day.

Volunteers are needed for the statewide initiative, set for Saturday, Feb. 27, when the two organizations hope to plant 50,000 seedlings across Tennessee.

“People in Tennessee love planting trees, and it’s a top priority for our organization as a way to improve our environment, communities and public health,” John McFadden, CEO of the Tennessee Environmental Council, said in a news release.

Many state parks and other groups are hosting tree-planting days in conjunction with the push. There will be 33 locations for volunteers to pick up groups of five types of seedlings — dogwood, redbud, Shumard (red) oak, Virginia pine and yellow (tulip) poplar, according to the release. They may then be planted anywhere in the state.

Distribution locations will operate from 1 to 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, and 8-10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 27.

“This is a great opportunity for Tennessee State Parks to partner with an organization that shares our vision of a cleaner, healthier Tennessee and to invite the public into our beautiful state parks as first-time or returning visitors,” said Laura Williams, Tennessee State Parks Friends & Volunteer Program assistant.


‘Vandy Boys’ grows from @VandyBaseball players’ motto to trademark

The two simple words that former Vanderbilt baseball player Mark Lamm and his teammates used in jest in the locker room in 2011 were on the lips of Omaha teenagers at the College World Series four years later and are now being trademarked by the university.

Those same two words served as the title of an article penned by No. 1 Major League draft pick Dansby Swanson’s in the Players’ Tribune last summer.

They were among the catalysts for Vanderbilt’s growth as the fifth-most followed college baseball team on Twitter in the country. And just for good measure, the same two words serve as the title of both an annual Christmas party and an ultra-competitive Fantasy Football League populated by former Vanderbilt players.

“Vandy Boys – it’s everywhere now,” Lamm said. “But at the beginning, it was just something we’d say between a few of us on the field or wherever. We didn’t originally think of it as a brand or hashtag back then. We were just the Vandy Boys.”