Creating Places: A Citizen Observer's Look at Nashville's Built Environment

Writer's Note: William Williams' interest in the manmade environment dates to 1970, at which point the then-young Williams started a collection of postcards of city skylines. The collection now numbers 1,000-plus cards. Among the writer's specific interests are exterior building design, city district planning, demographics, signage, mixed-use development, mass transit and green/sustainable construction and living. Williams began his Creating Places column with The City Paper in February 2005. The column in its original form was discontinued in September 2008 and reinvented via this blog in November 2008. Creating Places can be found on the home page of the website of The City Paper, at which Williams has worked in various capacities since October 2000.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Creating Places: Hyatt set for SoBro

Here's a rendering of the proposed Hyatt hotel slated for SoBro and to replace the gritty Rock City Machine Co. Building next to Sole Mio on Third Avenue South). Of note, the building is set for 13 stories, so it should stand about 150 feet at its zenith. That's a strong height for the structure's somewhat modest footprint. It will also "hug" Encore, creating a canyon-like effect for those traveling the two-lane, and tight, Molloy Street between Third and Fourth avenues south. This could be rather interesting. I would prefer the Hyatt to be constructed on an empty lot — of which downtown has an excessive number. Still, this should be a solid project. The design (and renderings can be misleading) is seemingly acceptable. I like the blue glass and the corner entrance at the southwest corner of Molloy and Third. There is word (and from a reliable source) that officials with the Hampton Inn & Suites want their building to "jump" Almond Street alley, in the process replacing a cinder-block building owned by C.B. Ragland. Were this to happen (and I believe the tiny building home to Sole Mio would remain in this hypothetical scenario), we're looking at some decent built-fabric density in this little node of SoBro. Of course, the massive surface parking lot between Second, Third, KVB and Molloy needs development. And that should happen within five years.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Creating Places: Looking at the urban core

Met with some chums today to discuss various built environment matters and just shared some basic thoughts with one via email. This is regarding long-term growth in Nashville's urban core. Here is what I wrote (and my opinion could change tomorrow):

I actually think the Vanderbilt/West End corridor has the brightest future of all the districts. I'm afraid the Central Business District is limited for future growth as the parcels available are small, expensive (and thus raise the question of cost-effectiveness for redevelopment) and lucrative as surface parking lots. SoBro south of Peabody Street is a MAJOR question mark. I'm not as high on SoBro's long-term growth as perhaps are others (with maybe the general Rolling Mill Hill area being an exception). Crossland and the North Gulch could be 10 years away minimum. I don't have much hope for that district in the immediate future, although Eleven North will help. I do like the potential of the Gulch proper for various reasons. The proposed 1.5 million in office and retail space is intriguing — not to mention highly ambitious. North Capitol is a wildcard. If no Sounds stadium or African-American museum are forthcoming, who knows. Germantown has strong long-term potential.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Creating Places: Elliston23 site from on high

Courtesy of the fine folks at Southern Land Co., this photo gives us an idea of the scale of this project. Should be massive. Note the strip center across from E23. Unfortunate with the setback. The building was constructed prior to Metro instituting its urban zoning overlay in late 2000 and ranks as one of the ugliest in all of the West End corridor. In comparison, the bland and generic Hampton Inn (to the right of the construction site) is a masterpiece. Would that the old Father Ryan High School building had been saved and converted to condos.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Creating Places: Nashville vs. ?????

I've decided to begin a series of comparisons between Nashville and other mid-size U.S. cities. Not sure with which city I'll start. Leaning toward Charlotte.

More to follow soon ...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Creating Places: Ryman Lofts

Ryman Lofts has me excited. Note the various shapes, material and colors. With a contemporary design, RL should offer nice massing and height. I also like the balance of windows. Smith Gee Studio designed RLofts and deserves credit for a job well done. Infill Rolling Mill Hill with multiple buildings of this type and that district will hum with vibrancy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Creating Places: A Foursome of Note

I rarely blog about realtors and property managers, but the new four-women team of Nashville Condo Collection is worth a mention. This quartet of classy and cosmopolitan ladies — Michelle Maldonado, Missy Harris, Michele Trueba and Nichole Holmes (comprising the Sotheby’s International Realty sales team) — will do a stellar job with their new venture, announced today. The foursome will focus on Nashville’s burgeoning resale condo market, with the women collectively experienced with Adelicia, Viridian, Encore, Bennie Dillon and Enclave. The team’s combined sales experience exceeds 20 years, and the women have sold in the Nashville market more than 700 condos valued at approximately $200 million.

Congrats, ladies. I would take you out and buy you all drinks but for you to be seen in public and in my company could prove harmful to your stellar reputations.

Creating Places: Crane Up

The first tower crane for the massive Omni Hotel and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum project is being erected as I type. I awoke this morning to see the bulk of the tower portion thrusting proudly, at least 100 feet tall. Returning home for lunch at 2:30 today, I noticed two more vertical segments had been added, with the arm portion of the crane being assembled.

From what I can determine, no fewer than two more cranes will be erected on the site.

Exciting times, indeed, for those of us who thrill to the sight of high-profile construction.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Creating Places: Neon and off

A quick post as I listen to Halloween music ...

What's up with the green neon light topping the soon-to-be-finished NABRICO Building? On some nights it is on and on others it is not. It's a cool touch and I trust it will be permanent.

Creating Places: Random Tidbits

A quick late-night post as the soulful sounds of Miles Davis drift through my tiny condo...

The old Beaman sign that once loomed over Broadway is now affixed to the east side of the dealership's building at 14th and McGavock. A nice touch.

I wonder if the green light at the top of the NABRICO Building will remain once the project is finished. I like it.

Not sure what to think of the under-construction building in Five Points. It is not completed so I'll reserve comments but there are both positives and negatives at this point.