Music Row is starting to feel like a life-size Monopoly board game with property changing hands at an accelerating rate. Driving up and down the campus—16th, 17th and 18th from Belmont University to the Roundabout—one can’t help but notice the teardowns and new structures—and especially a wave of residential construction. Is Music Row going residential? To get some perspective we contacted real estate specialists Chad Poff and Mark Woolwine from Colliers International who publish a quarterly real estate report titled Music Row & The Gulch Snapshot. (To get the report email firstname.lastname@example.org)
“Music Row is clearly going residential,” says Poff. “Mark and I actually debated on using that as a title for our Q2 report. You have office and apartment developers all wanting to be within these three streets and ten blocks. Because that is where the public wants to be. Young professionals and folks just graduating from college want to live in the center of what’s going on. So you have a lot of developers chasing a very small area and driving up prices.”
“Music industry consolidation has also been a big driver for these changes,” adds Woolwine. “Corporations prefer to be in one large space instead of multiple smaller houses because it’s more efficient. So as they leave the area, the demand shifts. Developers realized there’s land here that could be re-utilized that you can’t find anywhere else in the city—right in the heart of downtown, connected to the Gulch and the CBD (central business district).”
In addition to its downtown proximity, Music Row is also convenient to Nashville’s premier bedroom communities in Green Hills and Belle Meade. “The first large project Note 16 (86 units) started in 2011 and filled up at amazing rents even before they finished construction,” says Poff. “As a result dirt prices per square foot for land have increased 100% in just two years. The same developer who did Note 16 just purchased half a block at 18th and Chet Atkins to build Artisan on 18th with 153 units. It’s a good time to be a property owner because people are falling over themselves to get to our market.”
The Sony Music Publishing admin division will move into the Fifth Third building downtown in Jan. and has put 65 Music Sq. East on the market for sale or lease. Less well known is the fact that Sony Records division has also placed its headquarters at 1400 18th Ave S. up for sale or lease. According to Woolwine, unconfirmed speculation has the label moving downtown into the Pinnacle building.
“A good question to ask is how long can this exuberance continue?” says Woolwine. “I feel like we might be reaching a stopping point, but the developers we talk with say there is still plenty of demand from young people wanting to be downtown who can pay these high rental rates.”
Smaller recently completed residential developments include the 15-unit Village Row at Wedgewood and Magnolia, and 12 units at 1605 16th Ave. S. Still under construction, high-rise Demonbreun Lofts near the Roundabout, will offer 209 residential units.
The demographics of the Row is changing from purely a music center to a mixed neighborhood where walking down the street you might just as easily bump into an architect, a college student walking her dog, or an attorney. The economics are transforming the area’s cozy bungalows into more modern structures. Thankfully, Music Row’s anchor music industry residents such as BMI, ASCAP, Warner Music Group and Sony Publishing’s creative division—all huddled within a few blocks of the roundabout—show no signs of moving, which means the Music Row moniker should remain safely attached to the area for decades to come.