I sit at Germantown's Drinkhaus this late October afternoon watching construction crews demolish the old Overton Distributors warehouse on 6th Avenue, North near Jefferson Street in order to make way for Bristol Development Group to build a super-sized apartment complex called Vista Germantown (VG-town). This development was originally supposed to have been built in 2008.
Madison Square homeowner Joel Bezaire sent me a link to the news that VG-town is getting on track, which put me at Drinkhaus today watching the demo beyond a fenced-off parking lot that used to accommodate vehicles of Madison Square residents as well as those of patrons of Drinkhaus and Germantown Cafe.
Joel also pointed to a troubling aspect of the news: Bristol Development is launching the North Nashville project after suffering a "friendly foreclosure" in The Gulch. Instead of being embarrassed by a conventional bank-directed foreclosure on their credit record because of inability to assume the risks of ownership of Velocity, Bristol Development was able to convey all rights to the condo/retail tower to the lender Compass Bank, which will now market their product. Bristol seems to enjoy a latitude that many of us could not possibly imagine.
As a North End resident, I find it troubling that Bristol Development can so quickly move to construction of a massive new complex in our community on the heels of a foreclosure in the Gulch. Bristol's Velocity failure is another example of how halcyon concepts of developers regularly go unrealized. In two or three years will Bristol deliver what they promise? Or will Germantown be left with VG-town in receivership, or worse, with a crater like the one on West End?
But the pressing question is how was Bristol able to overcome the troubling Velocity news to get financing for such a massive project, especially when smaller developers with more modest, yet "respectful" goals do not enjoy such free access to loans? The large developers are fresh off a gigantic failure. Why not lend more modestly to spur developments that contribute more substantially to North Nashville? Bristol is not the only party assuming the greater post-Velocity risk of VG-town. With respect to our quality of life, our neighborhoods are, too.