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NewTowner

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Actually before you get too worked up over that article realize that it is a stock piece that really gives no new information at all about this project. Given there are no building permits, no announcements, not even a sales office sitting in a rental trailer somewhere, I would say the speculation this thing is getting ready to break ground is not warranted.

Lets stick to the facts that we know about considering that time and time again we have had people make posts in this thread who "just knew" it was going to happen all which have turned out to be incorrect. Here we are 1 year later since this thread was started, and all we still have is just a fancy website, some newspaper articles, and a lot of speculation that TG is a superman when it comes to rousting up money for an unreasonably high skyscraper.

We will just have to wait and see.

The thing is, we know that article was no news really....BUT we had just heard the news that the sales center would be opening as we thought it would be....and we had been hearing that the property was being fenced off. And it is still an interesting article that is kind of just backing up what a lot of us thought, that there is a market for this building and TG is doing a good job tapping into that market.

Again, no one is thinking that this is "getting ready to break ground" necessarily, but there are some steps being taken right now and I think it's ok that we report them and have a little bit of fun discussing them. Maybe all you are trying to do is keep us grounded, and if so that's fine...I think you just come off harsh and negative because of the timing...and again because this time you were slightly incorrect in your posting.

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metro, do you ever just come in to say hello. You don't make many friends here.......

Maybe it's time to go outside and get some air.

I too wonder why, metro you have so much doubt in this tower, to the point where its like you know more about Signature than we do. Again I ask this question to which I never recived an a answer for. Why has their been nothing but NON STOP bashing against this project.

Let me start by reminding everyone that we are an urban discussion site. We are not a skyscraper boosterism site, MySpace, or other non related site.

What I and others, who have given a lot of time, money and effort to create UrbanPlanet have attempted to do, is to create a public forum where people can hopefully make a difference in making a city a better place to live for all of its people. I suggest a look at our home page where the first thing you will see is... "The power to make a change in your community!". We would not have created this place so we could just sit here and mindlessly bash other communities. It's my guess that most of you have no idea the amount of work it takes to keep this forum running smoothly and I have better things to do if that was the case. I spent months working on first a Tennessee forum and then a Nashville forum all while a number of you posting here said it would never work or was not needed. Why would I turn around and try to tear it back down?

I personally am not a fan of Southern cities where there are a few blocks of very tall buildings which are then surrounded by hundreds of square miles of low density automobile inspired sprawl. For those of you who incorrectly have stated that I have posted what I have posted out of jealousy then I recommend that you read my posts about skyscrapers in other sections of this site including the endless ones that I have made about the projects in the city in which I reside. The general consensus amongst the people running this site is this situation represents very bad city planning and the focus should be on what they do to a city instead of "oh look, we have the tallest.....". Most modern skyscraper districts in these places are dull lifeless places that are also exclusive to most people in the community.

However we do understand that vanity skyscrapers are built and certainly don't have any problems with them being discussed on this site. What we do ask however is to allow for a reasonable discussion of the subject since there are many negatives to building a skyscraper and we feel that UrbanPlanet is one of the places where those negatives can be examined. You most likely won't see these issues explored in either your local press or news. As administrator of this site, I take on the role of making sure this discussion happens and to weed out the endless cheerleading posts which do not add anything to the discussion. How many posts do you want to see here that go "Tony G is the best developer in the world..... and "I am sure it is going to start construction soon.....".

I would hope that for you forumers who have questioned my motives now better understand the nature of my posts on this topic. Finally this topic is not about me, my moderation skills or how we run UrbanPlanet. If you want to discuss this issue further there are other places on the forum where that can take place and you are welcome to take it there.

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He's almost built one Signature Tower already, in the form of two buildings (Viridian at 32 floors and Encore at 21). That's 53 floors of condos. Now he wants to build another 55 +/- floors of condos, just all in one building.

What's the big deal?

You are oversimplifying the challenge and overstating Tony's past achievements. The two projects you note were both developed primarily by Novare. Sure Tony was a minority partner and had a hand in some of the front end approvals and co-managed sales (w/Novare). However, with both of those two projects he played those roles reading from a script provided by Novare. In addition to managing both the architect and the contractor (one of two primary things "developers" do) Novare handled lining up all the necessary debt and equity for both projects (the other primary thing "developers" do).

Viridian and Encore are both late generation iterations of a development model that Jim Borders has carefully tweaked over the last 7 years. And he (Borders) has been very disciplined about it. It is no surprise that when Tony's "vision" for the ST went so far beyond what Borders and many other industry insiders think is scaleable for Nashville, he elected to let Tony go it alone and remain concentrated on other opportunities more likely to bear fruit.

In fairness to Tony, none of this guarantees that he will be unable to get ST started or that it will be unsuccessful. However, everyone interested in this project's prospects should be equally interested in the true qualifications and experience that the guy behind it brings to the table. And the lack of interest in this project by experienced industry professionals shouldn't go unnoticed either; don't think for a minute that if Novare or Trump or anyone else of that caliber finally "saw the light" and came calling that Tony wouldn't gladly make room for them in the deal to improve his chances and spread the risk.

Since I know many posters are not real estate or banking professionals I'm going to offer a different analogy that might help make the point:

Imagine a guy who had 2 or 3 moderately successful mid-priced bistros (think Cumberland Apts) in Nashville. Then imagine he comes up with a vision of an ultra high-end gourmet concept (think ST) that he wants to open not just all over TN but throughout the country, including the biggest cities like NYC, San Fran, Dallas, Miami, etc. And not over 5-10 years but in just 1 or 2. Obviously, he would not be taken very seriously by most onlookers given the gap in experience between what he'd already achieved and what he was pursuing. This is basically how many of Tony's peers and area lenders feel about his prospects.

Hope this is helpful.

P.S. I think I'm pretty much spot on as to what I've described about Tony's history/background and involvement with the Novare projects. I'm sure that he and/or others in his camp monitor posts here at UP and will politely clear up any inaccuracies in what I have posted (today or previously).

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I'm sure all of us are quite aware of the actual, hard, cut and dry facts of this project. It may or may not be built. But, squashing dreams and enthusiasm with trite, although true, essentials reality isn't in the best interest of creative and productive thought. See Plan of Nashville.

All these parental sounding factoids to return the balance to the scale of fantasy vs. reality is quite devisive. Let the dreamers dream, the cheerleaders cheer, the realists be real.

What if you kindergarten teaches slapped your hands for being excited over your little crude crayon drawings when you were four years old?

Architects and engineers would probably be driving buses. Everybody loosen up and let everybody, on their own terms, enjoy this process without so much push as to who's right and who's wrong.

And to keep it along the lines of the forum's philosophy on urban issues: What about the tower's impact on the street plantings? OMG, do you think the streetscape will suffer with no petunias because of a lack of sunshine in the shadow of a tall building. What impact will that have on the vital street activity with the light depravation. Will it drive the homeless from the warming sun of Church Street in the winter. If it does, where will they go? You get the idea.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy all the facts and the doses of realism. Jeeper, you seem to do it right without being judgemental and assigning tags. Maybe you can teach a class in that. Much appreciated.

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OMG, do you think the streetscape will suffer with no petunias because of a lack of sunshine in the shadow of a tall building. What impact will that have on the vital street activity with the light depravation.

On that point, I 'd just like to say whoever was in charge of choosing the trees for church street is beyond retarded. I don't remember exactly what species they were (oak or something), but I know what they were not: Ailanthus or Pawlonia. Those are the only two trees worth planting in urban envirnments because they are fast growing and pollution tolerant. If they had planted those two trees then we would already have some good-sized shade trees downtown, but instead they choose some retarded oak tree...idiots!!

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Jeeper,

I find it odd how you come every couple days to remind us that Tony is not a successful developer by himself. If I recall 3 years ago no one in the real estate community believed Viridian would be built, much less sell out as quickly as it did, mainly because they believed there was no downtown residential market. Now we have developers scrambling after seeing the success Tony G had.

Jeepers, I wonder why half your posts seem to be something negative about Tony G? Also you like to talk about how the development/lending community feels about this project, I am curious as to what you do.

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Jeeper,

I find it odd how you come every couple days to remind us that Tony is not a successful developer by himself. If I recall 3 years ago no one in the real estate community believed Viridian would be built, much less sell out as quickly as it did, mainly because they believed there was no downtown residential market. Now we have developers scrambling after seeing the success Tony G had.

Jeepers, I wonder why half your posts seem to be something negative about Tony G? Also you like to talk about how the development/lending community feels about this project, I am curious as to what you do.

Good morning, samsonh,

I don't post "every couple days" about Tony and I've never posted that he's an "unsuccessful developer". Rather, I choose to post when I see someone offer facts or mythology about Tony or any other subject that I know to be either untrue or embellished to the point of being a misrepresentation. If you would more carefully review my previous posts I think you'd conclude they're not malicious or unreasonably provacative.

I am obviously an industry insider. So, the insights I offer simply allow you and others (not in the business) an opportunity to more clearly understand the nature of what's required of developers to get large projects completed. Of course, you don't have to agree with every conclusion I've drawn about Tony, or anyone else, but I rarely offer an opinion without backing it up with facts and/or reasonably logical conclusions based upon certain known facts. You and others can then agree, disagree, or simply ignore my input. At the end of the day I don't see my posts as having any more or less value to UP than, say, some impulsive proclamation that ground is finally breaking for ST because Tony is building a fence upon which to hang marketing signs. It's all part of the forum for consideration but naturally, over time, some things are going to be more persuasive than others.

Samsonh, since you are in a questioning mood let me ask you a question: how many of the 200 plus UP posts (including the last one) I've logged in the last year are factually inaccurate or have been demonstrated to be bunk ? They're all right here on the site for the world to see (and refute or dispute). Rather than waste a good post mischaracterizing my previous posts and subtely impugning my motives why don't you simply be more specific about what post or specific comment/opinion of mine you take issue with ? A good example of how to do this can be found on the Sounds stadium thread. A few weeks ago Michael Hayes and I had a pleasant exchange of ideas and opinions about the Sounds/SBER progress that I think offered UP'ers more insights than they'd had previously from the papers.

I look forward to your reply.

Jeeper

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I'll take a shot a ask that Gaushell or anyone else with better info edit as they see fit.

I don't see it likely that Tony will put a shovel in the ground for 6-9 months. Here's why: if his DD's (design development drawings) are going out today his contractor will need at least 4-6 weeks to get through the pricing and probably another month or two beyond that to work through value engineering issues. Gaushell didn't say but I assume all pricing previous to now has been based upon Schematic plans, a mere portion of DD's (which are a mere portion of Construction Drawings a.k.a. CD's). If this is true then the reliability of Tony's previous estimates are probably questionable. I say this not to discredit the effort but rather to point out that lots of time and energy are likely to be required to get the project's cost budget where it needs to be, especially such a big project. That's why I think 4 months is a best case scenario. Once there is a high confidence that costs are under control a foundation permit could be applied for and obtained within 30 days thereby allowing some sitework to commence.

All of the above assumes that all the revenue bases are covered. Unless I missed an announcment this is not the case. In order for a project of this magnitude to get airborne someone is going to have to start spending some real money on the marketing. With all due respect to Gaushell $300 million projects don't fly on the wings of a website and a remote office. For this deal to even have a chance at success someone is going to have to develop a sales office that's a showstopper. How can Tony expect to do less than Terrazo, Icon, Adelicia, etc. while charging prices almost twice as high ? Even Mr. Palmer (who gets a fair rash on this site) is building out a 7 figure sales center in Palmer Plaza as we speak replete with kitchens and baths and hotel rooms. When Tony comes to this realization and/or obtains the funds to do this and generate the high end collateral materials to accompany it he will need 6 months from the time he has identified his location to design, build and furnish this facility. At that point tack on as much time as you think it will take for him to sell a few hundred units at $550 plus a foot at terms (deposit amounts) that are acceptable to his yet to be identified lenders and partners.

You can agree or disagree with my 6-9 months but as I see it the only way he gets to the front side of that range is if he starts doing all of the above (along with finding partners and lenders) concurrently. And there doesn't seem to be much evidence of this so far. Remember, since May he has taken some reservations, priced schematics (presumably) and generated a bunch of publicity. I'm afraid the lifting gets much heaviers from here. Hope this is helpful.

In light of my post to sampsonh I thought it would be interesting to go back and look up some old posts. I thought this one was worth posting again.

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can we get back on topic? Does anyone plan on going to visit the sales office sometime early this week. I would be very interested to see if someone could dig up some more concrete info and maybe get some pictures too...

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Jeepers...if someone does go ahead and get to the point where they spend big bucks on a formal sales office, do you know how often the deal ends up falling apart later? I know alot of projects get a website and take some reservations and fall apart, but how many fall apart after spending hundreds of thousands or even millions on sales offices?

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Jeepers...if someone does go ahead and get to the point where they spend big bucks on a formal sales office, do you know how often the deal ends up falling apart later? I know alot of projects get a website and take some reservations and fall apart, but how many fall apart after spending hundreds of thousands or even millions on sales offices?

Many more than you would probably think. Trump, The Related Company and many other heavyweights have folded projects after dumping millions into getting them launched...sometimes even after being sold out with contracts and hard deposits in hand. Usually, this is the result of bad (late cycle) market timing. But since they've literally made hundreds of millions througout the cycle they can afford to write off a few million at the end of the run. It's simply a cost of doing business over the long term. These firms are large enough and have deep enough pockets to live to see another day (the next cycle). In many ways, Novare is in this position now given their success over the last 6-7 years. They can afford to stub their toe on a few late cycle deals if they have to. I don't think Tony shares their circumstances.

Condo development is a very high risk venture because (for large projects) if done properly you have to put several million at risk just to give yourself a decent shot at launching successfully. By comparison, large office and retail projects don't require nearly as much front end marketing and sales $'s. They also tend to be more straightforward from a design standpoint. So, the developer can get a read on his costs earlier without having to go so far down the road ($) with design/plans. On the other hand, condos (Novare's being an exception due to their tendency to be cookie cutter) tend to be more unique and one-off and thus more complicated to estimate without costly A&E for plans.

The fact that Tony will apparently soon open a sales center is critical to him getting one final shot to make this deal happen. However, as I said on this thread 4 or 5 months ago I think he's wasted a lot of good pub earlier than he needed it considering he's only now getting around to opening a sales office (and presumably beginning to convert reservations to contracts). Momentum is key with these deals and it seems to me he's allowed things to thaw way too much to salvage the big presale push he needs. I think he'll have to answer the tough partner/lender questions to get the local media excited again. If he can do that he may have a shot.

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Jeepers...if someone does go ahead and get to the point where they spend big bucks on a formal sales office, do you know how often the deal ends up falling apart later? I know alot of projects get a website and take some reservations and fall apart, but how many fall apart after spending hundreds of thousands or even millions on sales offices?

More thoughts...Harrison Lofts is also one local example but it's my understanding there are a few more currently teetering for viability. By June you could have a few more on this list.

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Not to detract from the ongoing "will he or won't he" debate, but I had a thought about sig. tower... what if instead of that art deco crown, what if they put one of those big electricity generating wind mills up there. Then the power could be used to supply the whole building (and probably a few others?) and give the owners free eco-friendly power for as long as they live ther. Of course it wouldn't be totally free since those things require maintenance. Is it just me or would that be cool as hell?

sigwlight2.jpg

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Not to detract from the ongoing "will he or won't he" debate, but I had a thought about sig. tower... what if instead of that art deco crown, what if they put one of those big electricity generating wind mills up there. Then the power could be used to supply the whole building (and probably a few others?) and give the owners free eco-friendly power for as long as they live ther. Of course it wouldn't be totally free since those things require maintenance. Is it just me or would that be cool as hell?

sigwlight2.jpg

It would look like a giant pinwheel. Not cool.

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Jeepers,

First off I don't believe your posts are "bunk" at all. I enjoy your posts. I suppose my curiosity was piqued when someone who has or claims to have insider industry knowledge is constantly harping on one of the more prominent developers in town. It struck me as a very odd way of conducting business. I hope you can see why.

Metro.M,

I do not understand this aversion to tall buldings in the CBD. If not Signature, what should be built on this lot? If it were you developing this lot what would you put there? Remember, you have to turn a profit.

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^So far it has not been demonstrated the developer has a plan that will make a profit on that land. If, after a year of being announced and reports on their website are true, they have a problem with getting enough people interested in the property. And I believe, though I might be wrong on it, all of those reservations expire at the end of this month. I am not hugely familiar with Nashville's market, but I think that a profit can be made on land without having to build a 1000+ ft skyscraper. They are immensely expensive to build, it's not clear there are enough people willing to pay the price to support it, and in most parts of the world where they have to have skyscrapers, apartments above 50 stories are undesirable as they are a PIA to access. This is the reason there are not that many residential towers in the world, even in expensive markets, that are more than 40-50 stories.

If this skyscraper is built people have to ask themselves is the price of living in the sky worth it, and can they get their money back when they decide to sell. Maybe, maybe not ,as it is a high risk gamble with no precedent.

I think that any urban environment, but especially one in a city such as Nashville, would be much better served by a set of buildings that are less than 20 stories and that would be cost available to a wider range of people so that a real city is built and not just an enclave for the McMansion escapee set. Sure it doesn't have the bragging rights of a supertall, but you know, that is one sentence for most people and then it is irrelevant. If you look at the desirable parts of cities vs the uninteresting parts, they are almost always in the parts where low rise buildings have been built on zero lot line at grade access where there that is ringed by retail on the ground floor. Skyscrapers almost always fail at these simple concepts because the architects are more interested in building a monument instead of an intimate place and we end up with a plaza, a lobby and usually some kind of water feature at ground level. Pretty I guess, but dead from a people perspective.

Forgetting what the developer wants to do, government should be focused on what is good for the largest majority of people in the city. It's not clear to me, and evidence supports it, that building a vertical McMansion is the ticket to success.

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I think that any urban environment, but especially one in a city such as Nashville, would be much better served by a set of buildings that are less than 20 stories and that would be cost available to a wider range of people so that a real city is built and not just an enclave for the McMansion escapee set. Sure it doesn't have the bragging rights of a supertall, but you know, that is one sentence for most people and then it is irrelevant. If you look at the desirable parts of cities vs the uninteresting parts, they are almost always in the parts where low rise buildings have been built on zero lot line at grade access where there that is ringed by retail on the ground floor. Skyscrapers almost always fail at these simple concepts because the architects are more interested in building a monument instead of an intimate place and we end up with a plaza, a lobby and usually some kind of water feature at ground level. Pretty I guess, but dead from a people perspective.

This analysis of high-rise urban design tendencies is well-informed and dead-on.

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Skyscrapers almost always fail at these simple concepts because the architects are more interested in building a monument instead of an intimate place and we end up with a plaza, a lobby and usually some kind of water feature at ground level. Pretty I guess, but dead from a people perspective.

Our very own batman building offers a great (terrible!!) example of what you described above.

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Metro.M,

I do not understand this aversion to tall buldings in the CBD. If not Signature, what should be built on this lot? If it were you developing this lot what would you put there? Remember, you have to turn a profit.

I think all of this talk about profit (see metro's response to samsonh's post) begs the question: is the cost basis in the land correct to begin with ?

Tony paid about $180/sf for this site at about the same time John Eakin was paying $100/sf for the site next to the Ryman. Novare/Tony paid about $55/sf for the Encore site and much less for the Polar Ice site. Alex Palmer is in the WES land for about $60 and the Adelicia site was about $55/sf. About a year ago John Eakin paid about $50/sf for the 12th and Demonbreun site. Bristol paid about $50/sf for the Icon site and the Crosland folks coughed up only $26/sf for the Terrazzo land. The new guys from CA just paid about $60/sf for 10 acres in Sobro. See a pattern here ? Tony elected to pay nearly 3 times the going rate for land which forces him to have a tremendous amount of density to make his numbers work.

Now, I'm not necessarily criticizing him for it because it remains to be seen whether he can pull it off; he deserves all the glory and the accolades if he can do it. Who knows, maybe that location really is 2 or 3 times as valuable as all the others. However, history suggests that the market value of land doesn't always turn out to be what someone paid for it. And as you can plainly see, if he is ultimately forced back to a scale more in line with the density of all the others, he faces a pretty big writedown on the land in order to be competitive.

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I think all of this talk about profit (see metro's response to samsonh's post) begs the question: is the cost basis in the land correct to begin with ?

Tony paid about $180/sf for this site at about the same time John Eakin was paying $100/sf for the site next to the Ryman.

If it wasn't worth $180/sf the day he bought it, it's worth that now on the momentum of the project. Market elephants influence the prices of their own holdings, and Tony G is a 7-ton giant now. I don't think the success of Signature, for Tony G, has much to do with what he paid for the land. Even if it isn't the building with the highest margins, he's Trumping all the other developers in profile. That is worth so much more to him than haggling over the land price. Location has something to do with that price, too...there is a right place to put the tallest building outside NYC and Chicago, and it ain't in the Gulch.

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I very much agree with the statement above

"He has every incentive to make it happen...it's a career move."

This is a move that will announce Tony G. is here to stay and he's a big time player. Tony could have easily built another Viridian on this site and it may have even broken ground by now, but that isn't what he wants. Siggy is a statement and the crown jewel of his resume. If siggy is built (which he has every intention of getting done come hell or hight water) he'll be able to do build basicaly anything he wants in Nashville and any other market he chooses.

With the money he's put into it I think we'll see this start to rise this year. He's got too much time, money, energy, reputation, and his future projects riding on it.

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It would look like a giant pinwheel. Not cool.

How embarrassed will you be if this actually happens??

J/K :D

But seriously,,, cheap electricity, anyone? Isn't it just a matter of time before personal residences start getting more wind and solar power? What better place to mount a windmill than 1000 feet up? Aesthetics be damned, we need some carbon-free energy up in this piece! Am I completely off the mark?

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