Hotel developers soothe Hillsboro Village concerns

Friday, March 17, 2017, Vol. 41, No. 11
By Joe Morris

The $37 million Moxy Nashville Vanderbilt will offer 130 rooms, 47 apartments and a 200-car garage.

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A new hotel going up in Hillsboro Village won’t be adding to the area’s skyline – which is exactly why it’s not being met with howls of dismay.

In addition to a boom in office buildings, apartments, condos and single-family homes, large hotels are appearing in and around downtown, to the delight of tourism officials.

But in some spots, new hotels are being built to the dismay of residents who fear the loss of character and a rush of new visitors and residents that will overtax existing infrastructure.

Hillsboro Village has often been a microcosm of the head-butting between developers and preservationists, but there has been nary a peep surrounding a new Moxy hotel, which broke ground March 8 with elected officials happily wielding shovels.

That’s because the developers have worked to keep the mixed-use project in line with its surroundings, as well as add parking and amenities that the village currently lacks, say those involved.

“We’re anchoring what has already been here historically,” says Greg Averbuch, founder and owner of Atlanta’s Summit Management Corp. who is developing the property along with restaurateur Randy Rayburn and real estate developer John W. Nelley Jr.

“People are coming to Hillsboro Village to enjoy the sights and sounds, and they are driving in. That includes visitors, who might be coming to see people who live in the nearby historic neighborhoods, or students at Vanderbilt or Belmont.

“This will provide the first hotel rooms that are walkable for the area, as well as parking for those visitors and locals who are driving in.”

The six-story, $37 million Moxy Nashville Vanderbilt is designed by Manuel Zeitlin Architects and Bounds and Gillespie Architects of Memphis, with financing coming from Pinnacle Financial Partners. It is expected to open in early 2018.

It will offer 130 rooms, 6,000 square feet of mixed-use retail on its ground floor, 47 apartments (with rents currently estimated between $1,200 and $2,000) and a 200-car garage.

All this will sit on the southeast corner of Belcourt Avenue and 20th Avenue South, a site just under an acre. It’s a small footprint, and is meant to be a neighborhood amenity vs. a larger destination, Averbuch adds.

“We’ve been looking at Nashville for decades, but wanted the right site,” Averbuch says of his firm, which has been operating in other markets since 1989.

“We’ve done several hotels in downtown Memphis, where we began developing more than 20 years ago. We like to create walkable, infill-type locations. I have urban renewal in my blood, but for me that means bringing very nicely operated, quality rooms alone as opposed to hotels that also have large meeting and convention facilities.

“We want to be an amenity for the neighborhoods we serve, so that people staying in the hotel are out in the area vs. involved in hotel-centric activities.”

The hotel’s scale, not to mention the addition of parking, helped it get by Hillsboro Village’s design review committee, which enforces an Urban Design Overlay that has been in place since 1999 and has height and design specifications, as well as rules regarding parking that help preserve the area’s pedestrian-oriented environment.

“This hotel has been a long time in the making, and the developers have been diligent about working with the interested parties to address the concerns about parking and maintaining the character of the Village,” says Burkley Allen, District 18 Councilmember.

“The architect did a good job of working generally within the guidelines and bringing his concept before the committee on a number of occasions to talk about any deviations.”

As for the parking, Allen adds that “because it is providing 200 parking spaces that will be available to hotel guests, employees, occupants and customers of Hillsboro Village, we expect the hotel to ultimately be a benefit to the parking challenges we sometimes have in the Village.

“With two universities in walking distance, this is a good location for a hotel, and I think it will fill a needed role here.”

The Moxy is a Millennial-focused brand of Marriott International.

The Hillsboro Village hotel will be one of two slated for Nashville, as a Kentucky-based developer plans to build the 168-room Moxy Nashville Hotel on the Third Avenue site that formerly housed records-storage firm Richards & Richards. It is across the street from the Johnny Cash Museum.