Nashville News: Apartment & Entertainment Development Dreamed for Riverfront

The Tennessean :: Getahn Ward :: February 18, 2015
Nashville Cumberland Riverfront

The owner of more than 60 acres on Cowan Street plans to pursue a rezoning to allow for a huge project with apartments, offices, a music industry campus plus a restaurant/entertainment component.

Don Allen of Chicago-based Monroe Investment Partners LLC plans to seek mixed-used zoning for the site next to where Topgolf International Inc. wants to build a sports and entertainment complex.
If the Metro Planning Commission allows rezoning, the projects would transform the area that’s being called the “North End” of the Cumberland River’s East Bank. Overall, there’s roughly 120 acres of industrial and commercial land between Cowan Street and the river and Jefferson Street and Interstate 65 that’s viewed as ripe for redevelopment with projects that could make better use of the Cumberland.
“It’s time to celebrate our riverfront,” said James Weaver, an attorney for Monroe in efforts to rezone what’s now an industrial property. “The idea from both the city and our standpoint is a ‘North End’ that eventually is live, work and play. Nashville’s one of the only cities left in America with a major river that we’re not utilizing.”
The conceptual site plan Weaver is expected to file next week for the Nashville River Front project includes six office buildings with three parking garages totaling 1.9 million square feet and 1,980 residential units. It includes two large areas for residential, two areas envisioned for office and commercial, an entertainment zone to be anchored by current tenant Soundcheck and space for restaurants, bars and entertainment offerings. The design addresses concerns about building in the flood plain, above which all of the buildings will rise, Weaver said.
A concrete batch plant, which sits in the middle of Allen’s property, is trying to relocate to another site a mile away. Some neighbors and commercial businesses near where Nashville Ready Mix is seeking permission to build the new plant are against that idea.
Allen has invested more than $40 million in the East Bank, including to buy 700, 701, 740, 750, 800 and 815 Cowan. Locally, Monroe Investment also owns the shopping center in front of the Wal-Mart and Lowe’s on Charlotte Pike. The company also has investments in other cities such as Chicago and Milwaukee.
After getting the land rezoned, Allen plans to work with other developers to bring the apartments, office buildings and other projects to the location and said he might develop some of the properties himself. “I don’t think we would build anything speculatively,” Allen said. “We would have to have some significant preleasing.”
Attorney Weaver added: “We’re being purposeful about our rezoning so we’ll get the maximum amount of flexibility to respond to the demand of the market and our end users, whoever they may be.”
One of the first projects on part of the site could be expansion of rehearsal and storage facility Soundcheck’s location on land adjacent to its home at 750 Cowan to add two sound stages for film, television and large events production. “In the coming months, a more definitive plan will be made,” said Ben Jumper, owner of Soundcheck.
Among companies seeking office sites around Nashville, LifeWay Christian Resources is scouting for a new home as it considers offers to sell its 15-acre campus on Broadway. The Franklin-based Community Health Systems hospital chain has expanded beyond Williamson County its search for a site or space to expand or consolidate back-office operations.

News Source: The Tennessean


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