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New Office Towers In Nashville

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Posted

I was wondering what the reality of this ever happening actually is. We have discovered that height is not a priority with the Omni Hotel. I said from the beginning they could get 800 rooms into a building under 300 feet, and I was right. I guess I could say, unfortunately I was right.

I have always been a fan of height. I always felt that major architectural statements could be made in Nashville with a building in the 600-900 foot range. The Bellsouth Tower not withstanding is a classic example of height, but without the spire it is a mere 527 feet. I am looking for height from sidewalk to roof at a minimum of 600 feet. I have always felt spires were a form of cheating. Inhabited space is more of what I am talking about. I have also grown in my preferences. ESU would gladly tell you that one of my favorite skyscrapers in Nashville is the Snodgrass Tower with its post modern minimalism that provides truth and strength in an absolute stark and monolithic statement, however; I am ready for a new architectural motif that not only provides height, but street level activation as well with grand plaza, water features, sidewalks, street vendors, and the like.

The Snodgrass Tower has great massing, elegant yet functional symmetry, and a grand entrance with pristine travertine marble and angular accents. The Snodgrass Tower now has a grand plaza, but is used relatively by no one.

This is something that Nashville is missing. We really do not have a gathering place for the community at the base of its towers. The Fifth Third Bank Building attempts street activation, but it is mostly used by the homeless. Granted, the homeless are citizens too, but frankly they distract from the space. They do not add positively add to it.

Nashville is in need of a new iconic skyscraper. I think we are finally ready. The Bellsouth Tower was finished in 1994-1995 and we are long overdue, and every tower since has been a minor disappointment. Opportunities have been missed. We still seem to be stuck in the 10-22 story range again, and again, and again.

There are a plethora of surface parking lots in downtown Nashville that are crying out for development. The argument has been made that the economy is still too week, yet banks have over 1 trillion dollars in cash reserves. The stock market has been strong and has even rebounded since the re-rating a month ago which some will argue was more political than an indicator of America's true economic strength.

Its time for Nashville to soar to the heavens once more. Its time for Nashville to think big again.

BR

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Posted

Hey, great post, even though I disagree with the need or even the desirability of such tall buildings. I also take exception with their ability to create hospitable public spaces at their bases. The Snodgrass could have the most aesthetically beautiful plaza in the world but no one will use it because it's so disconnected from the surrounding fabric. At most it could be a photo op, but then it would have to be truly spectacular for people to go out of their way to seek it out. The problem with towers is that they're too big at ground level and don't offer enough uses at the bottom to attract much more than passing street level traffic. At least historically. Also, they tend to create strong wind forces which make for an uncomfortable environment for pedestrians.

In addition, I think Nashville's historic 30 floor limit is a result of economic factors rather than a lack of ambition. Who's going to occupy all that space? Even the new Pinnacle Tower's major tenant is a local relocation rather than a new business. If developers are having trouble getting 15-20 floor towers off the ground in the Gulch and Music Row, what hope for anything beyond that?

I respect your opinion and desire to see what interests you built in Nashville. Don't get me wrong. I, however, am excited for the continuing activity in mixed-use development in Nashville; in the Gulch, Midtown, and Elliston in particular. And the continual in fill of new retail and restaurants in the same areas. (The steak house and oyster bar announced for the Pinnacle is great news and seems like a natural fit for that location.) Also, the rental occupancy is super high, and condos in certain areas continue to sell briskly, all of which bode well for the continued viability and future growth of the city. If Nashville continues on this smaller scale and more fine-grained growth, the creation of the resulting pedestrian oriented city will be more exciting and fulfilling than any skyscraper in isolation could hope to be.

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Posted

For a website devoted to urban development and urban issues it sure is hard to get a conversation going round these parts. Feel free to debate. I'm just a dude/dudette like the rest of you. I don't have any formal education in this field, just strong opinions. It's good for your brain to exercise your critical thinking skills every nonce and again. Since I've had a few beers and don't have anything better to do, I'll add to my previous argument.

Thinking back, and looking through my archive of pictures, it becomes apparent that the most vibrant and interesting places in cities are by and large low to mid rise districts. However, this may be a product of the stock of high rise buildings having come into existence in the era of modernism. The international style, under the influence of that asshat French architect with plans to destroy the center of Paris and replace it with tower blocks, was the bane of cities worldwide; Nashville included. (See Deaderick Street, the Sheraton, Snodgrass, parking lots, etc.) However, many recent high rises are built on top of bases which incorporate a multitude of retail space; small scale, imitating the storefronts crammed into traditional city blocks full of restaurants, retail stores, doctors offices, law firms, and even including spaces for larger scale uses like department stores and movie theaters. If built in this manner, high rises can mitigate their block swallowing hugeness, giving people a reason to circulate in and among them, rather than warily trudge past them.

The Pinnacle, strikes a midway point, incorporating some street level activation, but still too much street level dead space and space dedicated to cars. It should be self evident that the most actively pedestrian spaces in Nashville are the areas which retain the most pre-automotive era character; Lower Broadway, 2nd Ave., 5th Ave. and Printer's Alley. Businesses in downtown areas thrive where people walk, rather than drive. I wouldn't oppose, on principle, a high rise in these districts, provided they activate the street. Yet, the problem is that Nashville doesn't offer the economic incentive or the government mandate to compel high rise developers to take care of the street. And the mistakes of modernism are hard to undo. What can be done with the blank facades along Deaderick? The extant 19th century buildings have proven themselves eminently adaptable, reusable and sustainable. Yet the bleak stretch along the Sheraton and the like will remain empty and unproductive not withstanding a complete demolition and rebuild.

So here I've provided an argument in favor of, or at least acceptance of, skyscrapers. I still don't know what "architectural statement" Nashville can make with a new skyscraper that hasn't been made in the distant past and in countless places around the world already. It seems that the strongest statement Nashville can make is just to be a desirable place to live.

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Posted

Very good points. One of my favorite urban places is Boston's Back Bay with it's mix of high-rise, mid-rise, museums, theaters, restaurants, parks, retail, and so on.

I see The Gulch/Music Row/West End and Vanderbilt area being similiar, sooner than later! If the proposed light rail from Mid Town to Downtown comes to life in a few years (and I am beginning to believe it will), it will tie all these neighborhoods together and Nashville will then have an urban area unlike any other City in the South except Miami and Atlanta.

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Posted (edited)

I sketched these up to illustrate the basic character of the Nashville and Charlotte skylines. (Mods, please don't ban me. I'm not trying to start a 'us vs them' thread. Just a discussion on the merits of each.) And both models have their appeal and probably each fits the overall brand of it's City well.

The Charlotte skyline is pretty much grouped in the downtown area, albeit with signifcantly taller and a few more high rise buildings:

CharlotteSkyline.jpg

The Nashville skyline has a downtown cluster (limited to about 30 floors) but is spreading out into SoBro, the Gulch and Mid Town with numerous 15 to 20 story buildings and significant low-rise density.

NashvilleSkyline.jpg

I'm ok with how Nashville is developing. It fits us well. Nashville is a diversified City with the music/entertainment industry, the College area and the entertainment/tourist industry each being focal points for urbanization. I don't think the Charlotte or Atlanta model is right for us.

Edited by PHofKS
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Posted

I agree, Nashville will develop according to its character and same goes for each other city. I want to be unique. Nashville has it's on air, attitude, and feel as does each of the other mentioned cities. Let's just sit back and watch how the story unfolds. Nashville has a good vibe right now. Can't wait to see what it brings to us!

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Posted

A couple of notable snippets of information about the project:

He’s now searching for a lead tenant for his latest project, a 20-story office and multi-use project at 1201 Demonbreun in the Gulch. The land is shared with developer Ray Hensler, who is planning a 23-story, 300-unit apartment project there in two years.

And where he is as far as getting started...

We have lots of tenants that are 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 square feet who are interested. But it makes no sense even talking to them because we need a tenant that would take up at least 125,000 square feet in order for us to start construction.

This would make quite an impact on the overal appearance of the Gulch with two buildings like this on a hill next to Interstate 40.

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Posted

I am also curious about the final scope of the proposed parking garage to serve the clients (a large law firm) who recently threatened to leave the One City Center which is just off Church Street downtown. It seems there was a rumor a few years ago of such a project on that lot with additional office space on top. It could have been up to 25 floors as I recall.

With a large investment in building the garage already committed, the addition of office space would not be as costly as a new startup. I am wondering if we might see more to this project than we know right now.

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Posted

I like height as much as MTSU86, but I realize Nashville is simply not ready in its evolution for many buildings 600 feet tall or taller. The model I would hope we follow is that of Portland.

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Posted

I am also curious about the final scope of the proposed parking garage to serve the clients (a large law firm) who recently threatened to leave the One City Center which is just off Church Street downtown. It seems there was a rumor a few years ago of such a project on that lot with additional office space on top. It could have been up to 25 floors as I recall.

With a large investment in building the garage already committed, the addition of office space would not be as costly as a new startup. I am wondering if we might see more to this project than we know right now.

Could this be a version at/of an attempt to NCC 2?

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Posted

Funny, I posted this and a few weeks later Tony comes out with his developments!

Timmay143 not sure though if we will see NCC2 out of this.

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