A Houston architect and three fellow investors are scheduled to buy land Jan. 30 on the southern edge of downtown Nashville, where they plan to create 77 luxury condos.
If the sale goes through, it'll be the latest twist — and signal a potential change in fortune — for a project named City Lights, something that various apartment developers have pursued for at least the last few years.
Don Meeks, CEO of Houston-based Meeks + Partners, is buying about three-quarters of an acre in Rutledge Hill. The site, 20 Rutledge St., is behind the coffee shop Crema, near Nashville's trolley barns and also the popular restaurant Husk.
"We love the location," Meeks told me. "We'll be under construction as fast as possible. We have to rock and roll, right now."
Meeks is buying the site from the May family, longtime landowners in Nashville. The May family has owned this particular parcel for 30 years. Meeks declined to specify a purchase price, though he indicated he will be paying in the range of a few million dollars.
The continued interest in the City Lights site underscores how Nashville's development boom is pervading many corners of the market, as the region's population gains and job growth continue ranking among the best in the nation.
The land sale could snap several years of false starts with the property.
"I've been working on that land for two-and-a-half years," said real estate broker Richard Wallace, who's representing both Meeks and the May family. "It will have the most magnificent views of downtown."
Before Meeks came along, North Carolina-based Terwilliger Pappas targeted the site for an apartment development. Meeks said this is the second time he has been under contract to buy the property.
Last fall, Meeks pitched an 11-story building of 260 high-end apartments, with a restaurant and rooftop terrace. Metro code allows no more than seven stories at that location, and the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency declined to grant any additional stories to Meeks.
Meeks felt he needed at least 250 apartments in order to make the development profitable, considering how expensive construction would be on the sloping property. Having only seven stories of apartments wouldn't make the financial equation work, Meeks said.
Meeks withdrew his plans and started thinking more seriously about condos. Two years ago, that would not have been the case, Meeks said.
"Today, Nashville only has a two-month supply of condos. That's unhealthy; you should have six," Meeks said. "And the ones on the market are really smaller units. The glut of what's available is 1,200 square feet or less."
By contrast, Meeks plans for the majority of condos at City Lights to be between 1,500 square feet to 1,800 square feet. Penthouses will be double that size. Meeks expects the average sale to be around $500 per square foot to $525 per square foot.
The building will include space for a restaurant, as well as a rooftop terrace.
"It's an urban contemporary look. We're working on the design now," Meeks said.
Meeks said he does not have a construction loan or a contractor selected yet. The money to buy the land primarily is coming from Meeks and Joe Owen, the CEO of Brentwood-based Guardian Healthcare.
Meeks said he expects to file plans with Metro government within a month.
Meeks, Wallace and Owen also are involved in The Poston at the Park, which would be a building of 27 condos located two blocks from Centennial Park at 3000 Poston Ave.
In the first week after Meeks disclosed the project publicly, Wallace said buyers have placed refundable deposits to reserve 17 of the 27 units — a combined $13.6 million worth of condos. Those reservations include the seven most-expensive units, capped by two penthouses, each covering at least 3,200 square feet.
"It's been remarkable," Meeks said. "You do a market study, and you never quite know how accurate they are. But they said demand would be strong, and they're right."
Said Wallace: "We're rolling right into City Lights."
Article from Nashville Business Journal
Written by: Adam Sichko