Old Convention Center Project To Boost Retail For Downtown
March 27, 2015
Old Convention Center Project To Boost Retail For Downtown
The Tennessean

The $400 million redevelopment of Nashville Convention Center will include 205,000 square feet of retail space that city leaders and developers behind the project believe would provide a major boost for downtown.



In announcing the redevelopment agreement Friday, city officials also disclosed the $5 million cash the team led by developer Pat Emery and national mixed-use developer OliverMcMillan would pay upon closing of their deal to buy the 6.2-acre site would be put into the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing. Metro also is expected to provide $25 million in tax-increment financing to assist with infrastructure and other work.



"This project will bring much-needed retail to downtown, close the final gap in the Music City brand and make our city even more attractive to visitors," Mayor Karl Dean said, adding that the project would generate $13 million a year in new property and sales taxes and other revenues for the city and would create more than 2,000 jobs. "This will make downtown complete and give people another reason to come to the city's core."



Ralph Schulz, CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, called the project a giant step forward in the evolution of downtown. "A strong thriving urban core leads to a strong thriving region," he added. "This is precisely the project that's needed to continue the momentum."



The redevelopment agreement, including sale of the old convention center site at the corner of Broadway and Fifth Avenue, requires approval from Metro Council. On Tuesday, the Metro Convention Center Authority is expected to consider recommending the deal to the council.



Besides the 205,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space, the project is expected to include a 24-story, 300,000-square-foot Class A office tower and a 27-story, 350-unit residential tower. It also will include the 50,000-square-foot National Museum of African American Music, which would be at the corner of Broadway and Fifth Avenue.



Developers Spectrum | Emery and OliverMcMillan plan to finance more than 90 percent of the project themselves through a combination of equity and debt. "The financing is not going to be an issue," Emery said.



Developers and city officials said a retail destination downtown also will help business for the Music City Center convention hall in SoBro. "This will be a great tool for recruiting conventions, retaining conventions," said Dene Oliver, CEO of San Diego-based OliverMcMillan.



The $5 million is expected to more than double money in the Barnes Fund for Affordable Housing, allowing the city to make gains in the supply of affordable and workforce housing, Dean said. He said 20 percent of the construction work will go to minority-owned and small businesses.



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