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VOL. 35 | NO. 49 | Friday, December 9, 2011

Looking for next hot spot? Location is still the key

By Linda Bryant

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John Brittle

What does it take for a scruffy area of town to morph into an emerging neighborhood that potential home owners and investors watch closely?

Developer and neighborhood activist Dan Heller says it’s a combination of factors – timing, buy-in from residents, market demand and dedicated local investors who have more than making money on their minds.

“It helps to have a footprint in one concentrated area,” Heller says. “It helps to have housing that can still appreciate.”

Heller is often credited with reviving the area near the corner of Riverside Drive and McGavock Pike from a neighborhood plagued by urban blight to a thriving hotspot. Now known as Riverside Village, the small Inglewood neighborhood is bustling with locally-owned retail stores and restaurants and affordable housing.

Heller, who lives in the neighborhood, is landlord to the majority of commercial tenants at Riverside Village. He’s selective with tenants and makes sure they match the neighborhood’s core character, which is eclectic, casual and family-oriented.

”I spent a lot of time screening them,” Heller says. “I didn’t want franchises. I wanted to stay with local businesses and I didn’t want them to compete with one another. I thought about want would draw women, children and families.

“Riverside isn’t lightning in a bottle,” Heller continues. “I think the same kind of transformation could happen in many different areas and pockets of Nashville. It’s a process that can happen quickly or over a long period of time, but it does usually take a few things to light the fire. It takes capital and a micro community of property owners that are willing to share a vision.”

If multiple property owners in a neighborhood are conflicted, revitalization efforts are often thwarted, Heller adds.

Realtor John Brittle, director of land sales at Village Real Estate Services and founding member of InfillNashville.com, says an up-and-coming neighborhood needs advocates willing to roll up their sleeves and work over a period of several years to improve the area.

“There has to be some sort of ambassador,” Brittle says. “There has to be energy to start the wave to begin with; it can be a person or neighborhood group. Residents need to be willing to accept development and new growth. You need people who are persistent in keeping their neighborhood from falling into disrepair, willing to invest in the neighborhood and protect its historic structures.”

Proximity to downtown Nashville and interstate access are also key factors, he adds.

“So much of it is about time and travel,” he explains. “These neighborhoods are usually within minutes of downtown Nashville and they are close to transportation hubs.

“They are places where home owners and investors are confident that commercial development and small business will come,” Brittle added. “People have to be able to live in the neighborhood and not have to leave for everything they need.”

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0