Sylvan Heights Become Increasingly More Popular

    Sylvan Heights, the neighborhood next door to the booming Sylvan Park and off of Charlotte Pike, is becoming increasingly popular to buyers. The homes boast affordable prices and a central location close to downtown Nashville. Casey Zolezzi, a Village agent and member of the CityLiving Team, describes why young buyers are attracted to the area. “Value shoppers are making Sylvan Heights their home, That home you’re buying for $299,000 (in Sylvan Heights), in 12South, you’re buying (it) for $499,000.” Sylvan Heights proves to be a much more affordable option than other growing neighborhoods like 12South and Sylvan Park. Michael Kenner, another Village agent, Sylvan Heights Neighborhood Association President, and Principal with Kenner McLean Development,  says “People aren’t attracted by the character of the houses, they’re attracted by the location." He also notes that it is becoming increasingly popular for people to want to move back into town “It’s a generational shift, In the 1990s and early 2000s, people said, ‘Let’s get out of town.’ Now it’s different.”


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    When Amy Sullivan was ready to buy her home, she wanted to get the most value for her money. She selected Sylvan Heights, a once-neglected neighborhood next door to trendy Sylvan Park, which is becoming increasingly popular thanks to its affordable prices and central location.

    “It’s the best of both worlds,” Sullivan says, referring to the price and location near downtown Nashville off Charlotte Pike, just beyond Interstate 440.

    Home builders, realty agents and residents expect that trend to gain even more momentum once the nearby 28th Avenue Connector creates a new gateway to the neighborhood by linking Charlotte Pike with West End Avenue’s offices and restaurants.

    “Hopefully, a road that connects with the more upscale part of town will open up Sylvan Heights,” Sullivan says. “It’s going to make Sylvan Heights more accessible.”

    Sylvan Heights — bordered east and west by 33rd and 40th avenues and north and south by Charlotte Pike and Sentinel Drive — is especially popular with singles and young professionals who see it as an alternative to pricier in-town neighborhoods such as Sylvan Park or 12South that have already experienced their renaissance, says Village Real Estate Realtor Casey Zolezzi.

    “Value shoppers are making Sylvan Heights their home,” Zolezzi says. “That home you’re buying for $299,000 (in Sylvan Heights), in 12South, you’re buying (it) for $499,000.”

    Zolezzi has four listings of homes for sale and options on three new home building sites in the neighborhood.

    Since December, five home sales have closed in the small neighborhood. On a recent day, two sales were pending and nine homes were listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service, says Realtor Christie Wilson, president and owner of The Wilson Group.

    Location suits many

    The neighborhood experienced its first wave of redevelopment in the early 2000s. Sullivan’s condo, for example, was built in 2002 as part of a development that replaced housing built for returning veterans of World War II, Wilson says.

    Sullivan bought her home from the previous resident in 2004. Three years later, the economic downturn significantly slowed the neighborhood’s re-emergence.

    Wilson says momentum is building again and interest in Sylvan Heights will grow without interruption as more and more first-time and move-up buyers discover the neighborhood.

    “It’s a national trend,” she says of the popularity of urban neighborhoods. “People want the location, but they don’t want to be the pioneer,” she says.

    Unlike other urban neighborhoods that redeveloped because of their historic architecture — Edgefield and Lockeland Springs in East Nashville, for example — Sylvan Heights has a large number of small, unremarkable “Eisenhower houses” built in the 1950s. Many of them are being torn down and replaced by new construction, says Michael Kenner, the neighborhood association president.

    “People aren’t attracted by the character of the houses. They’re attracted by the location,” says Kenner, who is a principal with Kenner McLean Development, a home building company active in the neighborhood. He plans to replace his own Eisenhower house with a $300,000 structure.

    Like Wilson, Kenner says Sylvan Heights’ transition will continue without pause this time. All the signs are there, he says.

    About 40 percent of the homes are rentals, but that number is declining as more homeowners move in. A noisy metal fabricating plant no longer operates at night, and the Nashville Ballet and the Nashville Opera Association have facilities nearby.

    Next, the neighborhood association hopes the city will allow mixed-use development along Charlotte in order to create new retail opportunities and attract more homeowners who want to live in an urban setting, Kenner says.

    “It’s a generational shift,” he says. “In the 1990s and early 2000s, people said, ‘Let’s get out of town.’ Now it’s different.”

    Sullivan, who is getting married and selling her condo, says Sylvan Heights was a great investment and a great place to live for the past eight years.

    “Sylvan Heights was worth a roll of the dice,” she says. “You can find a pocket community and make it your home.”


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