The developer that fueled the rise of Nashville’s highest-profile urban neighborhood and a newcomer from Ohio are contending for something that is increasingly hard to find: a mixed-use development site in the Cool Springs commercial hub.
MarketStreet Enterprises, the chief financier of the Gulch, and Cincinnati-based Al. Neyer are in talks with National HealthCare Corp. The Murfreesboro-based company (AMEX: NHC), which operates nursing homes and assisted-living communities, is seeking to develop about 12 acres of land it owns on Cool Springs Boulevard, adjacent to one of its facilities.
NHC’s decision to explore developing that property comes amid remarkable and record-setting growth in Williamson County, long known for its high-caliber public schools and identity as the region’s suburban corporate headquarters hub. The city of Franklin approved a record volume of commercial construction last year. Franklin ranks as the eighth-fastest-growing city in America, with its population leaping nearly 5 percent from mid-2016 to mid-2017. The county led the nation in job growth in five of six quarters spanning 2015 and 2016.
"There’s not a lot of great developable property in the area that’s left. I think this could be a really special piece of property," said Bubba McIntosh, who is a senior vice president at NHC. "We’ve been sitting on that piece of property for many years, and we just started talking in the last couple of months about what we could do there."
McIntosh confirmed the ongoing conversations with MarketStreet Enterprises and Al. Neyer. Broadly speaking, the two developers have proposed conceptual designs for some amount of mixed-use development, McIntosh said. He emphasized that no final decisions have been made and suggested that NHC expects to make more progress in another month or so.
Steve Turner, a member of the family that founded national retailer Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG), created MarketStreet with business partner Joe Barker in the late 1990s. The duo, now joined by Turner’s son, Jay, have transformed what was a derelict rail-yard gulch into a neighborhood boasting about 1,800 apartments and condos, a pair of office buildings, a luxury hotel and roughly 50 bars, restaurants, shops and entertainment venues. The high-profile Gulch has become a go-to destination for tourists, particularly those from major metropolitan areas.
Though it has much more on the drawing board in the Gulch, this isn’t the first time MarketStreet has looked outside Nashville’s urban core. In 2015, for instance, the company paid $25.9 million for an office building near the Nashville Zoo.
The luxury Thompson Nashville hotel (foreground) and Pine Street Flats (right) are two of the many Gulch developments done by MarketStreet Enterprises.
Al. Neyer’s involvement is that latest indication of how aggressive that company wants to be as it sets up shop in this region. Construction is nearly done on a five-story office building Al. Neyer is creating in Cool Springs, backed by investment from New York Life Insurance Co. That same Fortune 100 investor also is backing Al. Neyer in its development of one of the biggest industrial buildings in Middle Tennessee.
Additionally, a Vanderbilt University Medical Center spokesman said Al. Neyer is "involved in an aspect of planning" a pediatric clinic and surgery center that the medical center is pursuing in Murfreesboro.
Cincinnati-based developer Al. Neyer LLC is wrapping up work on this $50 million office building, with 175,000 square feet, as a signature piece of its Mallory Green development in Franklin.
NHC is one of the region’s larger employers, with more than 3,200 workers and annual revenue nearing $1 billion.
This particular company property in Cool Springs is home to one of the 10 largest assisted-living facilities in the region, according to NBJ research.
Ranked by Employees, full time equivalent 2017
Rank Name Employees, full time equivalent 2017 1 State of Tennessee 25,777 2 Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt 20,428 3 U.S. Government 13,148 View This List