Mike Wolfe has made a living uncovering gems of antiques and collectibles scattered across the U.S. — and increasingly, he's bringing the same attitude to buildings in the cities of Nashville and Franklin.
Wolfe is the creator and co-star of the History Channel reality show "American Pickers." Wolfe and Frank Fritz scour the country, buying ("picking") antiques and collectibles. Wolfe's business, Antique Archaeology, has a store in Nashville's Marathon Village, near Midtown.
Wolfe said he has spent $1.6 million on Nashville real estate over the past 11 months. He now owns the building at 345 Main St. in downtown Franklin, a 115-year-old building home to the upscale boutique Lulu. Wolfe also owns 1314 Jo Johnston Ave., an empty brick building by Marathon Village.
Wolfe said he wants to attract a bar-restaurant to the space by Marathon Village ("we have a ton going on over there, but we have no food options"), and has local architect Nick Dryden working on that. Wolfe happily noted that, standing at the front of the building, he can see the construction fencing for a project named Capitol View, being developed by Boyle Investment Co. The first building will house some 2,000 employees of subsidiaries of HCA Holdings Inc., based in Nashville and the largest for-profit hospital chain in the nation.
Wolfe is making it known that he wants to buy other sites, too.
"The only things I've ever invested in, in my life, are junk and real estate," Wolfe told me.
And how's that worked out for Wolfe?
"It's been really, really amazing," Wolfe said with a grin.
Wolfe, who turns 50 next month, has been very visible in Nashville of late. He spoke at rallies to rescue RCA Studio A on Nashville's famed Music Row. It was a defining battle that was in the headlines all summer, pitting preservationists against a developer who was going to tear it down and build condos. (Philanthropist Aubrey Preston, whom Wolfe called a "good friend," stepped in at the 11th hour to go under contract to buy Studio A, temporarily halting the drive toward redevelopment.)
Wolfe also appeared at the Oct. 22 groundbreaking for Ovation, in the commercial hub of Cool Springs. Ovation is a $775 million, all-in-one development of office, shopping, dining, entertainment, hotels and residential options.
Wolfe praised the project as a chance to better the whole Franklin community. And he noted that 50 of Ovation's 145 acres will be left untouched, as the natural fields they are today.
"Square footage means so much these days, dollars-and-cents-wise, that the green space they devoted to this is just huge," Wolfe told the crowd gathered at the Ovation groundbreaking.
Wolfe lives in historic Leiper's Fork, outside of Franklin. Wolfe was born and raised in LeClaire, Iowa (population: 3,915), where he has owned as many as nine commercial buildings.
Written by Adam Sichko
Article from Nashville Business Journal