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VOL. 37 | NO. 2 | Friday, January 11, 2013

Granbery’s hot spots? Depends on your needs

By Brad Schmitt

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Jimmy Granbery

The great-grandson of H.G. Hill Sr., Jimmy Granbery started working with H.G. Hill Realty in 1981 and was named CEO in 2002.

The company has more than two million square feet of retail, office and apartment space, and its projects include the upscale shopping/restaurant area Hill Center in Green Hills.

Q: Folks are having a hard time selling their homes right now. Can you give us a snapshot of the commercial real estate market in Nashville?

A: “Backing up, my wife’s in the real estate market, and the right house sells before it hits the market. It really depends what the price point is, where it’s located, the schools, all that kind of stuff. But the markets in the residential world are very, very strong.

“On the commercial side, overall, I think the market is very strong. But there are obviously weak spots, Hickory Hollow, for example. Not everything’s peaches and cream, but there are some very strong fundamentals to the overall market as a whole. But there are some weak spots.

“Hickory Hollow’s obvious. We’ve all read stories about Hickory Hollow. And there are enormous amount of vacancies downtown.’’

“I think Cool Springs is a very dynamic market, as is Brentwood, as is Providence in Mount Juliet. That’s on the retail front.

“And there are a couple of very exciting residential projects announced in the Green Hills market, so I think there is more than one hot spot in the Nashville area.

“You know, Murfreesboro is a very vibrant, growing community with MTSU, and Midtown with Vanderbilt and the HCA project.’’

Q: What’s the steal right now? Where’s the area you can own cheaply that’s going to take off?

A: “I don’t know. I’m not really into saying what’s a great deal. Depends what you want. What you perceive as a great deal if your time frame is 50 years would be down the 65 corridor towards Columbia. Out west to Dickson. Mount Juliet, out in that direction. It depends what your definition of a deal is.

“In my short lifetime, Cool Springs was a farm, not too awful long ago. Mount Juliet was way out. Brentwood in the 70s was way out.

“Nashville continues to grow, and that’s good because it spreads it out. There’s tremendous growth and vibrant communities all around Nashville.’’

Q: You’ve been accumulating land along Charlotte Avenue in West Nashville. Any master plans?

A: “Well, anytime we put together pieces of property we have an idea of what we’re going to do. As far as developing working drawings and schematic studies, we haven’t done anything on that.

“I guess the answer to your question is no. Our plate’s pretty full with some other projects. We have tenants over there and it’s holding its own.

“Everything that’s happening on Charlotte, it’s better. Every day, it gets a little better.’’

Q: Your realty company has such an interesting history, from family-owned grocery chain to commercial realty giant.

A: “Well, when we got in the grocery business, everything revolved around the grocery business. Mr. Hill Sr. decided early on he was going to own his own real estate because he didn’t want to be at the mercy of his landlords to decide if he wanted to change the color of the store, whatever he wanted to do.

“He decided he wanted to control his own destiny. So over time, we started acquiring property …. Over time we decided to get out of the grocery business and concentrate on the real estate development business. So we’ve always been in the real estate business. It just wasn’t our main focus.’’

Q: It sounds really exciting, acquiring land and developing it. What do you love about your job?

A: “What we do is so different every day. It’s so different, the types of properties, the challenges, it’s fun to solve those challenges.’’

Q: Is there one particular project that’s your baby?

A: “Oh, you know, I’m involved in every one from the start to the finish. No, there’s no one. We’ve had lots of success and lots of fun projects that a lot of people don’t necessarily know about. Like where we are in the 100 Oaks area, and Harris Teeter on 21st and Pancake Pantry, and the Green Hills project is obviously very well accepted and turned out great.

“They’re all so different. Some are more challenging than others. But at the end of the day, they all serve the community well, and that’s what’s important.’’

Q: So you’re not going to tell me which one of your children you love the most?

A: “Well, I have two – my daughter and my son.’’

Q: Where’s your favorite place to eat at the Hill Center?

A: “All of them, man! I’m not gonna pick a favorite. They’re all good!’’

Q: You’re good at this.

A: “It’s so different. One day, you might eat a pizza, the other day, a salad at Whole Foods, and then a burger at Five Guys. I’m not big on Asian food, so I’m not a big Pei Wei lover, but my kids would rather go there than anywhere.’’

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