you may not be able to tell it by the smiles on their faces but these two polar bears are knocking on the door of 90 years old. they have witnessed many changes to the city. they were the creation of giovacchino mattei who owned the mattei plaster relief ornamental company. initially commissioned for the polar bear frozen custard shops here in nashville in 1930, there was a set of polar bears created for each location: one on west end avenue and one in east nashville on gallatin road.
according to the former city paper, when those shops closed after world war II, edgehill resident zema hill bought them and brought all four back to edgehill village. two of them went into his front yard at 1408 edgehill avenue and two went in front of the neighborhood funeral home which were sold later in 1952. since 2004, the ones from his front yard now sit at the corner of edgehill avenue and 12th avenue south, ready to throw the first snowball. they have become celebrity icons of the neighborhood having recently been included in the new neighborhood signs.
as the #1 bachelorette destination in the country, nashville has no shortage of party options when they descend on our city every weekend but recently an influx of new family-friendly concepts are being dreamed up for the city. last week, it was announced that the metro nashville sports authority has begun early conversations with a hospitality company called icon attractions LLC, to look into building a ferris wheel attraction downtown on the river. a lot of fiery hoops to jump through first before it becomes a reality but this is just one in many idea being discussed lately. here are four others:
topgolf revealed last january plans for making nashville their first location in tennessee. sitting on a 13-acre lot next to the jefferson street bridge in east nashville, the three-level topgolf will have 102 climate-controlled hitting bays (which can host up to six people at a time). in addition to that, the venue will offer 3,000 square feet of private event space, a 7,900 square foot concert venue and an extensive menu and bar with 230 high-definition flat-screen televisions. projected opening is late summer 2017. | 500 cowan street
3-waterpark talks (again)
the days of the opryland theme park are all but fleeting memories these days on the east side of town but in january, ryman hospitality officials announced to the nashville business journal plans for a $90 million indoor/outdoor water theme park. soundwaves waterpark will include a 45 foot slide tower, a lazy river, wave pool, child’s play area, restaurants and an adults-only pool.
orlando-based thrillcorp is considering nashville for a vertical rollercoaster. in addition to the 600-foot high “polercoaster” attraction, the structure would also allow for an observation deck, ziplining, and even a restaurant. the company can build on half an acre of land with a cost of roughly $50 million. location is still tbd and the company is still raising money for the investment.
5-indoor drive-in theater
a concept that is a little more concrete at this point is the august moon drive-in, slated for downtown summer 2018 if everything goes as planned. reported to variety magazine in february, the 40,000 square foot, air-supported indoor drive-in theater comes complete with a simulated starry sky, seating in modified 1960s classic cars and food service & full bar. the venue will have multiple dining areas including a “private tree house” event space as well as a separate lounge for live music. the theater is touting to have the largest non-imax screen in north america and the space will lend itself to live interactive performers from stage before and after a film as well. they will show first-run films and classics. | james robertson parkway + i-24 near the nissan stadium
2016 was a big year for nashville. 2017 is being set-up for even better. here are a few take-aways:
1 •the housing market continued on its record setting pace in 2016. median price of a home was $266,408, up from $242,945 in 2015. we saw 38,954 closings, up 5.6% from 2015. also, bucking the trend that it typically slows down near the holidays and in the winter, nashville had the strongest fourth quarter in home sales we have seen in a decade. continuing the trend, zillow.com named nashville the #1 real estate market in the country to invest in 2017. emerging trends in real estate puts the city at #6.
2 • the nashville zoo set new attendance records with almost 900,000 visitors in 2016, up 10% from 2015. the zoo is celebrating 20 years at grassmere this year. they have plans to open a white rhinoceros exhibit (march), an andean bear exhibit (may), an expanded tiger exhibit (july) and a new spider monkey exhibit which will feature an elevated boardwalk for guests to enter a treetop viewing platform.
3 • our auto industry is killing it. nissan, who’s north american headquarters is in nashville, had sales of more than 1.5 million in 2016, a company record, up 5% from 2015. also, GM announced plans today to invest $27 million in their spring hill plant to assembly a right-hand version of the acadia to export to australia. the spring hill plant employs almost 4,100 workers. in 2015, 6.3% of all US-made cars, light trucks & SUVs were produced in tennessee.
4 • USA today named nashville’s local foodie scene #3 in the country and zagat has us at #6 on their list for america’s next hot food cities. from adele & justin bieber 2016 middle of the night sightings at east side’s dino’s to a flurry of new much-anticipated openings in 2017 like our third james beard award-winning chef rj cooper’s henley in midtown or top chef maneet chauhan’s mockingbird (both spring 2017), our options for good eats show no sign of slowing down.
5 • the nashville convention & tourism announced last week an estimated 13.9 million tourists visited music city in 2016, up 400,000 from 2015. that number is up 45% in the last decade. we continue to receive accolades from being one of conde nast’s top five friendliest destinations to being one of travel+leisure’s top places to travel in 2017.
the nashville zoo set a new record for attendance in 2016, up 10.6% from 2015. 894,161 visited our furry friends last year, up from the last record set in 2014 by 7.2%. 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the nashville zoo at grassmere. to celebrate the 20th anniversary, the zoo is offering a special carload price for the first two weekends in january: for $20 per car, everyone in the car gets admission to the zoo and the price includes parking (limited to 10 per car…no clown cars). the dates for the 20th anniversary carload price are january 7 & 8 and january, 14, 15 and martin luther king’s day on the 16th.
the zoo’s birthday year will also see four new additions: a white rhinoceros exhibit and a spider monkey exhibit both open in march, a bear exhibit in may and a tiger exhibit in july.
the zoo will also host its annual “zoo run run 5k” this month on saturday, january 21. to sign up, click here. all the proceeds go to zoo operations, including education programs for children, feeding over 2,300 animals and keeping our zoo safe and clean for visitors.