amazon announced the company is investing $230 million and 5,000 jobs in a new operations hub in nashville today. here are five things to know:
1 • it will be the east coast hub for tech and management functions, including software development, customer fulfillment, customer service, transportation & supply chains, among others.
2 • the amazon site will be located in the upcoming nashville yards, a 15-acre development on the former lifeway lot downtown. the nashville yards stretches from church street to broadway near interstate 40 with plans for shops, restaurants, office space, hotels, residential, and a 1.3 acre park.
3 • nashville was not chosen as the second headquarters location (long island city in new york and crystal city, virginia will split those responsibilities) but this decision does still mark huge job gains for the city. even though being chosen could have meant upwards of 50,000 jobs, amazon’s decision is the largest job announcement for the city ever (and the state via governor haslam).
4 • amazon will receive performance-based incentives of up to $102 million, provided the company creates 5,000 jobs with average wages greater than $150,000. they expect to recruit both locally and outside the area.
5 • amazon currently already employs 2,500 across nashville within their four distribution centers.
it’s no secret anymore the visibility of nashville’s food scene has been raised. in recent months, the city has been included in top culinary lists from the likes of usa today, zagat, travel + leisure, and garden & gun.
this weekend, nashvillians will be the first in the US to experience an interactive pop-up dining concept at the standard. through a 6-course menu, dinner time stories: in the footsteps of marco polo, featuring le petit cheftakes you on a unique journey with a tiny animated chef through france, arabia, india, the himalayan mountains and lastly, china, using 3d projections onto your table in front of you. patrons follow the 4-inch french chef through a two-hour, fully choreographed dining experience that explores the route of marco polo.
“we are thrilled to bring this cutting-edge dining experience to the US and debut the first show series in nashville, with las vegas, new york and los angeles on the immediate horizon for 2018,” said david fischette, president, CEO + chief creative of go west creative group.
originally created in brussels, the show will run at the historic standard downtown for six weeks beginning this weekend through march 17th. there will be one show on wednesdays and thursdays at 6:30pm and two shows on fridays and saturdays at 6 and 8:30pm. make reservations early here. tickets are $162.50 per person. | 167 rosa parks blvd
growing pains are all around us. no big surprise since forbes declared nashville #6 best US city for job growth and #28 best place for business. adding to that, the city ranks 15th nationally in the number of fortune 500 companies headquartered here including the likes of HCA, dollar general and tractor supply. our low energy and labor costs have only continued to attract more new business relocations in recent months.
so how do we accommodate for the influx of new people in and out of the city? here’s three things in the works:
drivers spend on average 34 hours in nashville traffic annually…although my guess is some even spend 34 hours in traffic a month. in october, mayor megan barry unveiled a $5.2 billion transit plan bringing a combination of 26 miles of light rail, rapid bus, and even an underground tunnel downtown. the light rail will have its own designated lane. there will be 5 main arteries ending downtown at the underground connection that will run under 5th avenue.
the main cost would come from an increase in sales tax that would jump 1 percent in 2023. the mayor is also proposing a hike in hotel tax, rental car tax and business & excise tax.
“it will not be free. it will be an investment in our future and i believe nashvillians will be willing to make the investment when they learn more about this proposal and how it will change the way they live.” -mayor megan barry
the downside: if approved in may 2018, service improvements and improved accuracy on the current bus service as well as new neighborhood transit centers could start next year. for those frustrated in traffic this week looking for relief, the light rail transit (LRT) service, however, would not be active until 2026, starting with gallatin pike in east nashville. the lrt plan would not fully be completed until 2032.
the airport saw a 11.2% increase to 13.5 travelers in 2016, making it the fastest growing airport of its size in the nation. with the population of nashville estimated to top over 2.5 million by 2041, a $1.2 billion expansion was announced for the nashville international airport. no local tax dollars will be used. over the course of the next five years, the airport plans to triple their short term parking, add a 288-room on-site hotel and office building, expand concourse d and add a new international facility to name a few changes. the entire look and feel of the airport is getting a facelift as well, almost complementing the design of the music city convention center with its curved roof line (see above).
with the new british airways direct flight to london in may 2018, the airport hopes to open up new global market opportunities in the future. also, if approved next year, the city’s transit plan includes a light rail line as part of the new airport design.
13.9 million visitors , a record number, came to nashville in 2016, up from 13.4 million in 2015. it was also a banner year for the hospitality world since we sold the most hotel rooms ever.
annual visitation is up 45% in the past 10 years so the need is greater than ever to continue to grow the city’s hotel options. more than 100 hotels are in some sort of development in the city currently, outpacing cities like los angeles, chicago, atlanta and dc. according to STR hotel market data this summer, actually only 3 cities in the country have more lined up: new york, houston, and dallas.
among the notable hotel developments in the works for nashville, virgin hotel nashvillebroke ground in september at 1 music square west. the 240-room, 200,000 square foot hotel will come with restaurants, a bar and a rooftop lounge + pool, being delivered in 2019.
dream hotelwill be another prominent addition to the hospitality community. the 169-room hotel is a four-building development essentially rejuvenating a huge portion of printer’s alley downtown. printer’s alley is steeped in history dating back to the civil war era. there will be 6 new dining and nightlife venues on the street level and restorations of two of the main buildings has collaboration efforts from earl swensson architects with meyer davis laying out the interior.
plans for the upcoming W hotel in the gulch were revised and approved this summer, increased from 250 rooms to 350 rooms. the plan also calls for a rooftop bar, music venue and amenity deck. there will be a restaurant space on the corner of 12th and laurel (caddy corner to fin+pearl) as well as 12th and pine (near the turnip truck).
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
the property where cabaret royale gentleman’s club sits south of broadway, has been sold to make room for a pair of hilton hotel brands (homewood suites and tru by hilton). rising ten stories, the two hotels will offer 233 more rooms to help fill the demand downtown. developers are shooting to be open by 2018. the ever-growing sobro area already has four new hotels under construction with eight more in the works.
the demise of strip clubs is evident all across downtown nashville lately as a result of the growth in tourism. with the current over haul of printer’s alley to make way for the upcoming dream hotel and 21c hotel, brass stables was pushed out of their street level locale recently.
although future plans for the deja vu strip club property haven’t been confirmed just yet, the prime spot near the gulch was also sold earlier this year. after 26 years in that location and once boasting “1000s of beautiful girls and 3 ugly ones” it now it appears those girls, no matter their appearance, might soon be in the unemployment line if the strip club can’t find a new place to relocate, which might be tricky. adult businesses are restricted to what’s called an adult business overlay which is basically a small circle around the downtown area. downtown real estate is at a premium lately.
on the winning side is our hospitality industry. we can’t seem to build hotels fast enough. tourism is at an all-time high. last fall, we reached a milestone in the hospitality world: 60 consecutive months of year-over-year growth in hotel rooms sold, breaking our city’s personal longest streak and a five-year feat not achieved by any of the other top 50 US destinations.
last year, hotels.com reported nashville’s hotel rates jumped higher than any other city. we have become the 14th most expensive city and it doesn’t seem to be leveling off. note the nashville rates compared to new york city in may 2016:
Omni Rockefeller Center – $181 a night
Omni Music City Center – $449 a night
Grand Hyatt NYC Grand Central Station – $215
Hyatt Place downtown Nashville – $334
Fairfield Inn on Wall Street – $174
Fairfield Inn in the Gulch – $349
Hilton Times Square – $222
Hilton downtown Nashville – $549
with 2,000 rooms currently being built and an additional 7,000 more rooms being proposed, ultimately the new hotel construction could be the answer.