New York development firm SomeraRoad announced its double-tower, historic renovation project in the Gulch last month. Now, the company is unveiling the site’s master plan: a mixed-use district called Paseo South Gulch.
With a handful of major projects in the pipeline and plenty of others brought to market over the last decade, the Gulch is one of Nashville’s quickest-changing and trendiest areas. In an exclusive interview, Andrew Donchez, who leads development at SomeraRoad, called building there a “no-brainer.”
SomeraRoad’s towers — one 16 stories and one 20 stories — are slated for a combined 620 residential units, 18,000 square feet of office space and 14,000 square feet of retail, according to a statement. Current design plans weave those buildings into a walkable area surrounding two historic structures, the Voorhees Building and the Downtown Antique Mall, both of which SomeraRoad has been renovating into mixed-use office space.
“This is a legacy-defining project whereby we can make a permanent positive impact on a city our company has come to call home," Jonathon Reeser, director at SomeraRoad, said in a news release. The company recently targeted Nashville for its second headquarters.
SomeraRoad executives said a total project cost wasn’t available yet. But so far, investments in the project are no joke: The company paid $30 million for the 2.6-acre project site in 2019, and the two residential towers alone are expected to total more than $200 million. The first tower will begin construction late this year and should wrap up by the end of 2023. The second is expected to break ground in late 2022 and finish out sometime in 2024.
SomeraRoad’s plans for Paseo have already garnered considerable attention from potential tenants, according to a statement. For instance, developers said they signed a lease agreement with Chicago-based GoodVets for part of the project's retail space. Office tenants are still being finalized.
Due to the pandemic, office and hospitality are currently two of the least-certain sectors in commercial real estate — and Nashville entered last year with the more office space under construction than any other U.S. metro. But that hasn’t stopped developers, including SomeraRoad, from building more workplaces. In many cases, executives rely on lengthy construction cycles and bet that cities will have returned to some degree of normalcy by the time a tower tops out.
“This project doesn't need to be successful in the next 12 to 18 months,” Donchez said in an interview. “It needs to be successful in the long term.”
Some companies are starting to ditch leases in skyscrapers, especially if they plan to keep a large portion of their workforce remote. The Voorhees Building is smaller than many downtown office spaces. This means a greater range of tenants, not just giant companies, could occupy an entire floor, which ultimately means less people and more autonomy, said Jonathon Reeser, who leads acquisitions for SomeraRoad.
“We have this offering that you don't get if you're going to a high-rise building,” Reeser said. “We have an environment that you can completely control.”
As Nashville Business Journal previously reported, locally based Earl Swensson Associates is leading the project’s design. Other firms involved are Hawkins Partners, Manuel Zeitlin Architects and Kimley Horn, a statement said.
Cushman & Wakefield and Nashville-based Ojas Partners are in charge of office and retail leasing, respectively.