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VOL. 38 | NO. 47 | Friday, November 21, 2014

Germantown was into mixed-use before it was cool

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Even before Mayor Karl Dean’s announcement that the $60 million ballpark would be constructed in Germantown, the area was flourishing – not to the extent that it is now, but it was experiencing growth and development.

Originally, the land was granted to James McGavock in 1786 in recognition for his work in the Revolutionary War. Germantown later became the first residential subdivision in Nashville in 1865 as the 9th Ward.

Even the late 1980s, Nancy Hardaway and a few other visionaries began to restore and renovate the row houses in the area, and Andree LeQuire and Scott Chambers took the torch around the turn of the century and developed the area including and around Germantown Café.

They also built the houses along 5th Avenue N. and rekindled the spark the Hardaway group had started, swiftly and deftly moving forward in the development of the area.

LeQuire and Chambers are the founders of Germantown Partners and have two of the greener hearts in Nashville. They poured their sustainability philosophy into their developments, incorporating Nashville’s first pervious parking lot into their development that houses the Germantown Café.

Even before the LEED designation worked its way into the construction vernacular, LeQuire and Chambers were super insulating and using white roofs and other energy saving, environmentally friendly building practices.

Joining Germantown partners in the quality sustainable construction fray were the Lawrence Brothers – Skip, Fred and Bill – who have built homes in the area using tankless water heaters, drip irrigation systems, triple pane windows and caulked and sealed building envelopes, Energy Star appliances among even more drastic measures.

One of their developments, for example, used materials only from a certain proximity to Nashville, as they did not want fossil fuel wasted in the transportation of the product.

The neighborhood has an interesting mixed-use zoning and has since the late 1800s, according to Nashville historian Ridley Wills. In Lest We Forget: Nashville’s Lost Businesses and Their Stories, one of his many brilliant books on the history of Nashville, Wills states “the Germans were meat packers as evidenced by the Neuhoffs who incorporated in 1897 and opened the Neuhoff packaging plant in 1906 eventually expanding it to 700,000 square feet on its 14 acre lot 1950.”

Redeveloped by its owners, the ancestors of the Neuhoffs, that structure houses the Jazz Workshop and a number of creative entrepreneurial enterprises.

Following World War II, there was significant anti-German sentiment, and the residents began to leave the area and slip into non-German neighborhoods. With the meat-packing plant in full swing, and Werthan Bag Factory looming as one of the city’s largest employers, the area began to develop more commercially and industrially.

It has only been in the recent past that the area has returned to its former self, and the zoning allows that. As Andree Lequire says, “The area was developed around mixed use so that residents could live in a house, have a workhouse next door, and walk to the butcher, walk to the pharmacy...”

While the Mad Platter has provided fine dining for Nashvillians citywide since 1989 when Craig and Marcia Jervis opened the restaurant. For years it was the only Germantown destination for many.

Now with Germantown Café, Silo, Rolf and Daughters and City House, the neighborhood attracts diners from the far reaches of the region, as well as its denizens. Monell’s began to offer its family-style “meat and three” in the 1990s and has become a favorite in the area.

Listing of the week

The Werthan Bag Factory, the inspiration for Driving Miss Daisy, was converted to condominiums several years ago and offers the urban living in a historic building with contemporary interior design and décor.

Grant Hammond of Metropolitan Brokers recently listed a condo in the Werthan development and described it as an “immaculate urban loft with soaring ceilings, exposed brick, original hardwoods, and a very rare skylight.” Meaning skylights are rare at Werthan, not that this skylight is rare, although it would be if it is in Werthan, I guess.

There is “an open kitchen, with granite, stainless steel appliances and a bar,” he added, further describing the development as a “gated community with two pools, fitness, bocce ball, grills and Rolf and Daughters restaurant.”

Wendy Monday, who actually has a dog named Tuesday, sold this unit on a Thursday, November 13, to be exact. Monday hails from Parks and has been a significant cog in the urban movement as has Hammond, who may have represented more buyers of downtown condos than anyone.

Richard Courtney is a real estate broker affiliated with Christianson, Patterson, Courtney, and Associates and can be reached at richard@ richardcourtney.com

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