Real estate investor Mark Bloom said he's received inquiries from several luxury brands about a high-profile site he owns, while MarketStreet is thought to be working to bring a luxury Thompson Hotel to property it owns near 11th Avenue South and Pine Street.
Bloom sees SoBro as the convention center and limited-service hotel market, while the Gulch becomes the center for lifestyle luxury hotels.
"There's a heightened influence of the creative class here, and ... it's creating a shift in the urban luxury lodging category. The Gulch is going to be the area where the shift is (most) pronounced," Bloom said ....
[T]he area isn't without its challenges. One need is better connectivity with downtown and Midtown. A pedestrian bridge that would stretch from SoBro near Music City Center to near Pine Street Flats in the Gulch has been cited as a potential remedy, but in February, the Metro Council deferred a plan to buy land for the bridge.
There are 2,000 constituents who live in this area and 2,000 employers on top of that .... That is a very dense area and as we get more progressive we talk about transportation and we talk about bridges more people in this particular community will be using bridges more so than cars. The group of Millennials that are moving into this area do not depend on cars as much as other parts of the region so ... we need to flesh it more if we are not clear about things.
Yes, well, let's be clear. CM Gilmore could have been more clear about the developers' motivations and the Mayor's penchant for pandering to the tourist industry. In this case, CM Gilmore failed to mention that the prospect of luxury hotels and getting tourists from those hotels to Downtown venues--including conventions at Music City Center--are perhaps prime movers of the Gulch Pedestrian Bridge.
Instead, CM Gilmore head faked about Gulch residents (for the record, I do not disagree that Millennials should be heeded). She also discounted other CM's concerns by insinuating that debate about neglected sidewalk projects would eventually degenerate into fights over "north vs. south vs. urban" neighborhoods (along with a not-so-subtle caution that she might withhold support on other bills in retribution).
Each of us have to do what's best for our constituents .... I understand the importance of having sidewalks for your neighborhood .... But know that this is a neighborhood in my district and I don't want us to compare.
I can see now why she did not want to compare. Because then we would have to talk transparently about the luxury hotels planned in "her neighborhood", while Nashville school kids in other neighborhoods have been lacking proper sidewalks they might use for a decade. The Dean administration has constructed or repaired a fraction of the sidewalks that the previous administration did. Pricked by public criticism, the Mayor's Office argued that Karl Dean has "aggressively invested" in sidewalks, despite a recession and the 2010 flood (conveniently failing to account for the probability that today's dollars probably pay for fewer sidewalks than under the previous administration, which likely also spent dramatically more on sidewalks as a percentage of the total capital budget).
We likely would have known the truth about the unstated purpose of the Gulch Pedestrian Bridge too late if the council had voted to approve quickly in a condensed timeline like that of First Tennessee Park. Might the luxury hotel angle have developed quickly since February? Perhaps. But given Mayor Karl Dean's MO of ramming disguised capital projects through with or without debate, I suspect that the prospect of new luxury hotels prompted a luxury pedestrian bridge in turn, regardless of the 2,000 Gulch residents.
We should be thankful that the council at least drew the line somewhere. Too bad--for those of us concerned about the neighborhood impact of the new ballpark--it did not come one project sooner.