Source: Nashville Business Journal

After two-and-a-half years of work, Don Meeks is starting construction on a luxury condo building in downtown Nashville — buoyed by a new bank loan and the sizzling growth in the city’s urban core.

Condo buyers have reserved 40 percent of the 71 units in the forthcoming CityLights building at 20 Rutledge St., said Meeks, who is a Houston architect and a key investor in the development. That activity was sufficient to secure a loan to fund construction of the roughly $73 million building from Wilson Bank & Trust, Meeks said.

Though Meeks had hoped to start construction months earlier, there’s reason to believe his timing won’t be hurt by that delay. About 9,600 people are expected to live downtown by year’s end, according to projections from the Nashville Downtown Partnership. That’s a 40 percent jump in four years. The partnership expects another 2,800 to move downtown in 2017. Such growth in such a short time has soaked up downtown apartments and condos. The Twelve | Twelve high-rise in the Gulch sold out of its 286 units in April, and currently, downtown has a three-month supply of condos available for purchase — half the amount usually considered healthy or balanced, the partnership says.

The partnership also reports that people living downtown are increasingly affluent. Buyers are able to hold a condo in the CityLights building with a deposit in escrow equal to 10 percent of the unit’s sale price. One of the building’s four penthouses is reserved; each of those units, at about 3,400 square feet, is priced between $2.5 million to $3 million.

Most of the units reserved so far will sell for between $500 to $600 per square foot, at an average size of 1,900 square feet, Meeks tells me. Once half of the units are reserved, Meeks said he anticipates raising prices by about 5 percent.

“It shows that Nashville is a major player among major cities in the United States. Sales prices per-foot are up there with Dallas and Houston and Denver and Charlotte and Atlanta, so again, Nashville is a fantastic market,” Meeks said. “Nashville is as strong and sophisticated as any market, and is demanding a higher level of quality.”

Along with Meeks, core investors in the development include Louisville private-equity firm Patoka Capital, as well as Joe Owen, the CEO of Brentwood-based Guardian Healthcare. Nashville’s Village Real Estate Services is handling the sales effort.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled Dec. 9 for the seven-story building, which will include a restaurant, pool, two rooftop terraces, a gym and other amenities, Meeks said. A previous letter of intent for the restaurant space has expired, and Meeks said he is scouting new food concepts for the space. The eventual restaurant will provide room service for condo owners and also cater events they hold at the building, he said.

RG Anderson will handle construction, which should finish in summer or fall of 2018, Meeks said. The building is located behind the popular Crema coffee shop at the southern edge of downtown, and near noted restaurant Husk.

Meeks had hoped to start construction about three months ago, but he said it was tough to lock down a contractor who wasn’t covered up with work, and get Metro to process the necessary permits. Both are reflections of how the city is inundated with construction in its “It City” boom ( as seen on our Crane Watch map).

“The city of Nashville is just swamped. It’s taken us over six months to get a permit — it’s just taken that long for them to get to it. I’m sure you’ll hear that from a lot of other developers,” Meeks said.

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