Neighborhood Exploration, Part Un

New year, new beginnings.

We live in Germantown, an urban neighborhood not far from downtown with mixed-use housing, foodie restaurants, a ball park, coffee shops, etc. Commuting between San Francisco this past year and half, my time spent in Nashville was mostly within a three-mile radius of here. There is enough new restaurants and live music between East Nashville, Downtown, 12 South, the Gulch, an Germantown to keep a girl entertained for a while. Over the holidays, Stephen and I took at drive out to the suburbs, to see how the non-city folk people live. Driving through nice neighborhoods is one of my favorite pastimes- finding someone to drive while I stare for extended periods of time is the main challenge.

I asked a few acquaintances: where does “Reyna James” live? Where are all the houses in show “Nashville”? Where they led me was incredibly…disappointing. Neighborhoods like “Governor’s Circle.” Pre-planned “luxury” neighborhoods with cheesy architecture and your choice of 10 or so cookie-cut designs like: medieval Tudor, and gaudy colonial. The fake brick facades and architectural details that were trying to look old, but obviously weren’t, was enough for us to swear right then and there that we were never moving to the burbs.

This was the first time I considered doing development here-it seemed so needed. Open floor plans, modern looks, clean lines- people in the South should surely appreciate that, given the opportunity? I have read numerous articles in the past 6 months, about the increasing number of companies and people moving to Nashville over the next 5 years (NY Times Building Boom

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/Tennessean Moving from NYC/Biz Journal LA Firm to Germantown). I know one thing is for sure: they weren’t going to want live in neighborhoods like this. I knew that, because I was the walking, talking demographic the articles were about, and I would rather be crammed into a studio downtown than stuck out of the city in neighborhoods like we were driving around.

Development Takeaway: Find something that is needed and wanted in your area, that isn’t already being supplied in large quantity. Competing with contractors flipping, is a saturated activity that makes the margins extremely thin. Look at the landscape of the city your are in, and consider what is missing that you can provide.

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