Council OKs Deal to Sell Old Nashville Convention Center
May 6, 2015
Council OKs Deal to Sell Old Nashville Convention Center
The Tennessean

The Metro Council finalized an agreement late Tuesday to sell Nashville's old convention center to private developers who have big plans to make its property a new destination comprised of office, residential and retail.



Now, it comes down to whether lead developer Spectrum | Emery can secure private financing to make the center's conversion into an ambitious $400 million mixed-use development a reality.



The clock is ticking. The agreement with the city sets an end-of-year deadline to close on the property. Developers would have four opportunities to extend it by three months, but would have to pay $250,000 each time to do so.



Franklin-based Spectrum | Emery, led by developer Pat Emery, has partnered with OliverMcMillan, a San Diego-based commercial real estate firm, for a project billed as a new gateway for Lower Broadway. It calls for 205,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment uses; 300,000 square feet of class A office space; 350 apartment units; and space for a long-awaited new National Museum for African-American Music.



Under an agreement the Metro Council gave unanimous final approval Tuesday, Metro would not officially turn over the property until financial satisfaction is met with the development team.



"We are thrilled with the council's actions tonight," Emery said in a statement. "With the Metro Council's approval we now look forward to the remaining steps in the process. The initial reactions we've received from potential retailers and business tenants gives us full confidence this project will be a tremendous success for our partners, but more importantly the city of Nashville and its taxpayers.



"We look forward to continuing to share updates and milestones as we move forward to make this transformative downtown development project a reality."



Developers have agreed to pay a total of $11 million to Metro — $5 million of which would occur at closing of the land — for property that was appraised at $27 million. In addition, they have have agreed to pay $7 million for the center's demolition; $11 million to build the museum; and $7 million to build meeting space for the adjoining Renaissance Hotel.



For Metro's end of the deal, Nashville's Convention Center Authority would oversee construction of a $32 million 781-space parking garage, paid off by parking revenue. The Metro Development and Housing Agency's board also is set to consider $25 million in tax-increment financing for the project, all which would come from revenue the new development produces.



The new development would replace the 1987-era Nashville Convention Center on Commerce Street, which has become obsolete with the opening of Music City Center two years ago.



The old center would be demolished, paving the way for new residential and office high rises, a new connector road to offer on-street retail and open space in front of Ryman Auditorium.



Reach Joey Garrison at 615-259-8236 and on Twitter @joeygarrison.



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