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2013 - And the award goes to...


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Its still a little early, but I am ready to rank 2013 as the best year in Nashville urban development history. However, I can't help but think about near misses and broken promises that appear to cloud all the good things that happened.


First, the year in summary...


The good;


> In SoBro, the Music City Convention Center opened with all the ancillary development such as the 22 story Omni Hotel, KVB Boulevard and roundabout and the Hall of Fame expansion which, all told, should approach the one billion dollar mark. It is one the City's all time great civic developments, ranking up there with the Football stadium, arena and construction of the interstate system. Also in Sobro, the 11 story, Hilton Garden Inn has actually broken ground.


> The Gulch continues to grow with the 12th and Laurel apartments climbing to its eventual height of 23 floors every week. Construction has begun on the beautiful mid-rise Crossings and the massive 11North apartments and the beautiful Pine Street Flats were completed.


> Midtown/West End saw the beginning of construction or completion of at least five massive 300 +/- unit apartment and two 200 +/- key hotels. Vanderbilt and Belmont are growing on steroids and building some of the better examples of academic architecture anywhere.


> Urban neighborhoods like Germantown are developing like crazy with massive and modest apartment developments springing up everywhere. Funding for the long awaited Triple A ballpark should be approved this week.


The hopeful, but still skeptical;


> The Amp, a bus rapid transit system for West End to downtown to East Nashville is all the sudden not looking as promising as it once was. Serious funding issues have arisen and opposition is strong.


> Sobro is a hotbed of construction speculation but not much else. Many renderings and proposals have been produced, but only  The 32 story SoBro Apartments looks promising and was supposed to begin by the end of the year, but there is no physical evidence of that happening yet. There are rumors of a 60 story 4 Seasons Hotel and a mixed use development including a 30 story Westin and equivalent sized residential component on the UMPH site. The Weston appears to be officially dead now. The Swerdling 16 story hotel on Broad and Giantarra's 12 story Marriott are quiet and not showing signs of progress. A rendering for a 42 story office building on Demonbruen Street was released a few months ago, but there has not been a peep of news on it since.


> The 5th and Church proposal for a 38 story building has been replaced with two alternate proposals for 750' towers. I'm not sure why these are anymore promising except for the fact the  developer indicates he could proceed with construction of the residential building at any time. If so, why not?


> Two large 18 story apartment blocks in mid-town (Buckingham and the Roundabout) were supposed to start 'by the end of the year'. We have a month left.


> And finally, West End Summit. With an actual deep pockets tenant and bank financing, a year later, the developer still hasn't broken ground.


The 'actual development' in Nashville has been good, but modest compared to the numbers of renderings we've seen on these pages. Based on dirt turned, concrete poured and ribbons cut, I would give Nashville a 'B+' in the urban development and growth category. And that is mostly due to the MCC and Omni opening.


But regardless, I am going to announce my awards for the first annual Nashville URPYs. 


Best Large Project opened:


Music City Center - the nations 15th largest convention center for the nations 7th most popular destination is a no brainer. The project spans six square blocks and is a catalyst for much growth in the surrounding area. 


Best modest sized project opened;


The nominees are Homewood Suites on West End, Hyatt Place in SoBro, Pine Street Flats in the Gulch and Country Music Hall of Fame expansion. However, I choose the CMHOF expansion for what it means to Nashville's brand and appeal.


Best Large Ground Breaking/Under Construction;


The nominees are The 23 story,12th and Laurel, apartment in the Gulch and Vanderbilt's Kissam Hall. The winner is...Kissam Hall. It announces to every one driving down West End, that yes, there is a major Ivy League caliber institution here. And we are a part of what makes Nashville a great city.


Best modest sized Ground Breaking/Under Construction;


The winner is...The 12 story Hilton Garden Inn in SoBro. Certainly the first of many projects in SoBro to break ground in the upcoming months after the MCC opening.


Biggest disappointment;


The 30 story Westin and equivalent sized residential. This burst onto the scene with as much promise as any major project in a while, but went away just as fast. It would have been a wonderful project.


Biggest Heartache;


Who else; The West End Summit. It will likely win in another category next year.


Most anticipated large project;


There are several nominees; whatever is the latest proposal for 5th and Church, the 42 story 'Sheet Music' in SoBro, the 32 story "SoBro Apartments. My winner is..SoBro since it seems to have more than a snowballs chance of breaking ground.


Most anticipated modest sized project;


A three-way tie! The 18 story Apartment at the Music Row Roundabout and the 17 story Buckingham, a two block long apartment block on 21st cross from Vandy along with the new Ballpark in Sulphur Dell share the award this year.


So there you go. Roll up the red carpet.

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