New Look for $400M Overhaul of Convention Center Site
November 10, 2015
New Look for $400M Overhaul of Convention Center Site
Nashville Business Journal

With a key checkpoint looming, the developers pursuing a $400 million overhaul of the most pivotal property in Nashville have published new renderings of their plans.

The images bring a measure of specificity to what San Diego-basedOliverMcMillan and Cool Springs-based Pat Emery, president of Spectrum | Emery Inc., envision for the site of the city's original convention center. The property covers 6.2 acres at a prominent crossroads: Fifth Avenue and Broadway, at the epicenter of Nashville's honky-tonk entertainment district and across from Bridgestone Arena and also Ryman Auditorium, the iconic "mother church" of country music.

The convention center site has the highest profile of anything happening in Nashville's epic construction boom. As we've written, it's a chance to capitalize on downtown's resurgent popularity, injecting more residents and a lot more retail space into the heart of the city. It is an ambitious, legacy-defining project for Emery, who is best known as the prime force who turned rural Cool Springs into Middle Tennessee's top corporate headquarters location. The city has tried to revitalize the site for more than five years, and just about everybody's waiting to see what happens.

Even though the convention center site remains dormant, the renderings, made available on Tuesday, are a fresh reminder that the developers continue working behind the scenes. No tenants have been announced, and the status of financing remains unclear. As of this spring, the project featured an apartment tower with 300-plus units, an office tower of roughly 300,000 square feet, and 205,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and entertainment space — including the proposed National Museum of African American Music.

What's coming up next month is notable for two reasons.

First, it's the two-year anniversary of when Metro, under then-Mayor Karl Dean, awarded Emery the exclusive rights to redevelop the convention center site. A lot has changed since then: Emery pursued Bridgestone's U.S. headquarters, which eluded him because there was too much uncertainty about financing and when construction would start. At the suggestion of his longtime chief financial backer, JP Morgan, Emery teamed with OliverMcMillan, which is best-known for high-end retail and residential projects. Apartments now are part of the plan, a piece absent from Emery's original winning bid.

Also, Dec. 31 is the deadline for Emery and OliverMcMillan to buy the convention center site from Metro. The agreed-upon price is $11.25 million; $5 million is due at closing, with the rest able to be paid in installments over 25 years.

The developers can extend the deadline three months at a time, provided they pay Metro $250,000 for each extension.

The developers are receiving $25 million of public aid, called tax increment financing, and the Nashville Convention Center Authority is financing a public parking garage with nearly 1,200 spaces.

On Tuesday, the developers announced a formal name for the project: Fifth + Broadway, a nod to the property's address.

Also, OliverMcMillan announced that it has hired Burgin Dossett as a regional manager, overseeing this project. Dossett previously ran the Tennessee division of the developer Crosland, which built the Terrazzo building in the Gulch. Three years ago, Dossett founded his own firm in Nashville, named Ashwood Co. LLC. The company's website lists portfolio projects including two resorts in China, including one with a St. Regis hotel.

The original convention center was made largely obsolete when Nashville opened the nearly $600 million Music City Center, in SoBro, two-and-a-half years ago.

Link to the original article here.

Media Contact
Stacie Ellis
(619) 321-1111