November 4, 2014
Convention Site Project Team Targets 40%-Plus Preleasing Mark By Summer
The team looking to radically reinvent the site of the 1980s-era Nashville Convention Center with a mixed-use development is hoping to have 40 to 50 percent of the planned project’s office and retail space pre-leased by a targeted mid-summer construction start.
Pat Emery, president of Spectrum | Emery, said the team — which includes Cushman & Wakefield | Cornerstone for office space leasing and OliverMcMillan for retail space leasing — is in discussions with multiple prospective tenants. He declined to disclose names. However, the National Museum of African American Music is already on board as a future tenant.
“We have June and July circled,” Emery (pictured) said of the point at which all Metro approvals are expected to have been finalized and when demolition of the bulk of the existing facility can move forward. “We think we have enough time between now and then [to land the construction loan].”
Emery said he is working to secure at least one equity partner for the project. He declined to provide specifics.
Emery said the team does not anticipate imploding the existing concrete-bunker-like building, which still hosts some low-profile conventions. Rather, a combination of demolition and deconstruction will be deployed. Some Renaissance Hotel meeting spaces and ballrooms are expected to be reconfigured in the process.
As to retail tenants, Emery said he anticipates many will be new to Nashville, though likely not on the highest-end level as found in, say San Francisco or New York City.
“You won’t see Hermes in Nashville just yet, but Nashville, and our project, will draw its own distinctive tenant base,” he said, adding the team is using the term “experiential retail.”
Of note, the addition of OliverMcMillan, announced today (read here), also means Gensler will be involved with the design alongside the Nashville office of Gresham Smith & Partners. The San Francisco-based architecture firm, which runs offices in 46 cities in 16 countries and often leads U.S.-based design firms in annual revenue, had designed a building for Giarratana Nashville that would have put a Marriott hotel on First Baptist Church property at the corner of Demonbreun Street at Eighth Avenue. Recently, churhc officials and members approved the $18 million sale of that site to Novo after Giarratana bowed out. (Read more here.)
“Gensler works with OliverMcMillan on a lot of projects,” Emery said. “They bring the experience that Oliver McMillan brings. The two companies work together daily making these projects happen and they become part of the communities [in which they operate]. This project will have Nashville’s DNA on it.”
In addition to an office tower and a residential tower, the project will feature a hotel conference center, approximately 180,000 square feet of retail and dining space, 35,000 square feet targeted for an entertainment venue, and approximately 40,000 square feet for the previously announced museum dedicated to African-American music.
“If you look at the team we have assembled, we are getting excited,” Emery said. “It’s going to be a special place and it will complement downtown.”