We Can Learn From Others and Revitalize Downtown Wisely

    This is an editorial piece I wrote for the Tennessean. It was published on Sunday, April 20. To view the original piece, click here.

    We Can Learn from Others and Revitalize Downtown Wisely
    By Mark Deutschmann

    As realtors and developers we are in the enviable position of having saved the revitalization of Nashville’s biggest and best neighborhood for last.

    The Greater Nashville Association of Realtors recently hosted a panel discussion about selling downtown condos. Tom Turner, executive director of the Nashville Downtown Partnership, addressed the increase in downtown housing during the past five years and comparisons to other cities. I described the newly forming neighborhoods and their differentiating characteristics.

    Many of the other top U.S. cities already had a walkable, livable, 24-hour downtown or have re-populated their downtown areas over the past 10 to 30 years. Due to Nashville’s somewhat quirky zoning, our downtown core had restricted housing until the mid-1990s. As the 21st largest city in the U.S., we are fortunate not to have the same pressure as the top 20 cities. We are in the enviable position of learning from our sister cities and revitalizing our downtown wisely.

    Our city’s core is now the new edge. Downtown Nashville is not just a home to office buildings but rather a series of urban neighborhoods in the making, each with its own personality.

    SoBro’s Rolling Mill Hill will be defined by its greenways, scenic views and the retail that will emerge along Hermitage Avenue and by the development of the Trolley Barns. This project marks the first time since our city’s early history that our river and downtown area will come together and prosper. The Gulch is emerging rapidly as a mixed-use community with its condo offerings, popular restaurants and retail. Germantown continues to develop and offers residential condominium communities and adaptive reuse developments supported by restaurants like City House and the ever pleasant Germantown Cafe.

    Downtown Nashville is the last of the city’s urban neighborhoods to be recreated. Over the years, each of its outlying areas metamorphosed into thriving, distinct communities, defined by unique combinations of commercial offerings. Hillsboro Village is a mixed-use neighborhood, known for new and established restaurants and retail such as Sunset Grill, Bookman Bookwoman, Pancake Pantry and Posh. The 12South District has Mirror, Mafiaoza’s, Portland Brew and 12South Yoga. East Nashville has multiple pockets of retail and entertainment, in and around the Five Points neighborhood. The success of these communities helps support the revitalization of our urban core.

    Downtown residential is defining itself with new retail, art galleries, and restaurants. It also offers access to some of the major, and now walkable, entertainment options like TPAC, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, LP Field and the Sommet Center, Lower Broadway and the historic Ryman Auditorium. These entertainment options are surrounded by downtown bridges, river walks and stimulating views of our ever-developing skyline, available for our daily consumption.

    The downtown core offers a multitude of neighborhoods to choose from, each with a unique personality and set of characteristics. Combined with a thriving business district and a diverse selection of residential options of all shapes and sizes, empty nesters, young professionals, families and transplants are finding moving to downtown appealing.

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