Placemaking Trends in Nashville: Recapping CRE Events in the Music City

Nashville may be known as a bachelorette party destination, but the eclectic city has a lot more to offer than just its notorious nightlife. From its reputation as a hub for arts and culture to its growing job market and remarkably low unemployment rate, it’s no wonder the city is ranked as the 17th most active real estate market in the country – and one of the 10 most desirable destinations for millennials. 

Our team discussed Nashville’s advancement with industry experts at the Nashville Commercial Real Estate Summit hosted by RE Journals and the Nashville State of the Market event hosted by Bisnow, exploring implications for art, culture, and placemaking in the burgeoning city and beyond. Ultimately, the city’s accelerating real estate market, creative capacity, and artistic talent means one thing for sure – you’ll be seeing a lot of NINE dot ARTS in Nashville. 

Event Highlights: 

Growing Office Sector

As in other growing markets, Nashville is seeing a rise in premier office developments with integrated amenities, with tech giants like Amazon and Asurion leading the way. This “flight to quality” was a theme at the Bisnow State of the Market event in San Francisco, too, where experts predicted Class B and C assets to be redeveloped into multifamily and industrial spaces, while Class A wins out with its first-class finishes, state of the art amenities, and desirable urban locations sure to entice the influx of young professionals and digital nomads flocking to the music city. 

In fact, as Akara Partners CEO Rajen Shastri shared on our dot dot dot podcast, it’s those post-grad consumers and hybrid professionals who are accelerating office sector development that prompted his team to establish membership models, social offerings, and other high-touch service amenities for properties such as Kenect Nashville, a multifamily residence equipped with a coworking lounge accessible to both tenants and the greater community. The difference in his offerings? Authenticity, he says. 

Kenect Apartments, Nashville

Taking cues from the hospitality industry, offices too are competing in the “amenities war” to attract top talent. But it’s the authentic, community-focused amenities – like a hyperlocal art program that brings residents together – that are remembered and appreciated, prompting new Nashvillians to choose your space over the competition. 

Differentiation Despite Inflation

And competition was one of many challenges discussed amongst Nashville real estate experts, along with supply chain issues, shipping delays, rising construction costs, and inflation. How do developers overcome these compounding issues while meeting the increasing expectations of Nashville residents? “The key is to create something memorable,” says CEO Martha Weidmann. 

Rather than taking shortcuts or overlooking key assets, it’s important to identify a vision early in the project lifecycle, and then coordinate your designers, architects, art consultants, and other placemaking professionals around this vision from day one – creating a cohesive environment while streamlining operations. Doing so will save time and money, as well as create space for those bold, iconic art moments that distinguish a property from the masses and keep people coming back.

The Neighborhood as the Amenity

“At the end of the day, we’re trying to understand human behavior,” said CEO Martha Weidmann when connecting remarks on the construction, development, design, and technology needed to support Nashville’s growth. Such infrastructure, she commented, has to be designed with people in mind – meaning new developments cannot progress in a silo. 

To support Nashville’s prosperity, neighborhoods should promote connectivity amongst retail, residences, entertainment, and offices – with a prioritization of public space for people to meet, gather, and explore. It’s this public space that forms the basis of a true neighborhood – one that people can identify, contribute to, and take pride in. Fortunately, art and culture are here to help.

From exterior murals that support navigation to landmark sculptures that promote public gathering, art and culture help preserve, celebrate, challenge, and even reinvent community identity – serving as powerful placemaking tools to support Nashville’s continued advancement.