Renaming neighborhood creates instant new market

Friday, May 18, 2018, Vol. 42, No. 20

One interesting aspect of residential real estate is how some insignificant, irrelevant places in town become landmarks thanks to the marketing and consequent branding of developers and their Realtors. The names bestowed upon these sites become woven into the realty tapestry.

There is the case of the area adjoining Sylvan Park being dubbed Sylvan Heights once Sylvan Park become acceptable. For years, many Realtors who were forced to take listings in the area referred to the neighborhood as Sylvian Park, and there were always several homes for sale there under $5,000 in the early 1980s.

Sylvan Heights reached new heights with the ultra-contemporary construction that can be viewed as I-440 merges into I-40 near the Murphy Road exit.

The area across Charlotte Pike from Sylvan, as opposed to Sylvian, Park was once known by a term considered to be derogatory – that term being “The Nations.’’ Although the streets bear the names of states and combined would be a nation, not several nations, the name stuck.

“They won’t deliver pizza there” was often used in describing the area. In an effort to combat the stigma, the Wilson Group, an historic real estate firm and champion of Sylvan Park, renamed the neighborhood formerly known as The Nations. Following a Wilson Group sales meeting, the lands would be forever more known as Historic West Town.

It worked.

So much so that developers and builders from across the land marched their troops into the community, and it filled with progressive, forward- thinking people who shared a passion for the past and history. They learned that The Nations was the home of the Chickasaw Nation, the Native Americans who inhabited the area and were led by Piomingo who signed a treaty with James Robertson.

The treaty defined and granted certain rights to the Chickasaw who, in turn, would aid in the protection of the settlers. Unfortunately for Piomingo and his families and friends, a few miles east of The Nations, a fellow by the name of Andrew Jackson took up residence there, and he was no big fan of treaties apparently.

Several years ago, from 2005 until the Great Recession hit, several builders who were determined to provide affordable housing in Nashville ventured into the land adjacent to the Fairgrounds. Dilapidated, rodent-infested houses could be in the $30,000 range and new homes with three bedrooms and two baths could be constructed and sold in the $130,000 range.

At that time, the listings described the neighborhoods as the Fairgrounds. As Nashville blossomed, the Fairgrounds were ignored for the first few years, and then reborn as Wedgewood, then adopted Houston and the term Wedgewood Houston emerged. As popularity in the community flourished, it became WeHo, a name conjuring up communion and jocularity.

In a neighborhood as tried and true as Green Hills, even the Lipscomb University sector of Green Hills, it is challenging to create new, sizzling landmarks.

Lipscomb was helped by dropping the “David” from David Lipscomb and elevating its status from college to university in addition to all of the other miracles that Lipscomb University president Randy Lowry has performed on the campus since his arrival in 2005.

There is an awkward confluence of roads – a non- circular roundabout – near the Lipscomb athletic fields where Granny White Pike swerves into Shackleford Road and Glenridge spins off Granny White. Glenridge is a street that actually gives rise to a ridge.

Upon that ridge, there is new construction. Rather than recreate the wheel, the real estate team of John Brittle and Mary Beth Thomas decided to call the new development The Ridge at Granny White and so it was.

Upon this ridge, the builder erected four houses priced at $1,295,000 and another at $1,475,000 to go along with two larger homes that were listed for $1,550,000 and $1,650,000, respectively. While the houses have startling views of the city, the city has no view of the Ridge as the Brittle-Thomas team refers to the development hoping to induct the term into Green Hills jargon.

“Yes, we recently moved to the Ridge,” she boasted, sipping her Pavillon Blanc de Chateau Margaux, her sunglasses reflecting Lake Lipscomb at sunset.

Yes, the Brittle-Thomas team has created a lake, now a landmark. The duck pond that adorns the cranky curve features a nice water feature that is forever more “The Lake at Lipscomb.’’

Knowing Randy Lowry, it will soon become one of the Great Lakes.

In their brilliant description, the Realtors described the property as “a boutique gated community nestled on the Ridge overlooking the lake at Lipscomb.” Then they add names, these names will often become a part of Nashville real estate lore – our answer to Frank Lloyd Wright.

Did you ever wonder if Mr. Wright’s friends called him Frank Lloyd or just Frank? The name is akin to the way the press labels assassins as they do not yet know the name they are called. Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wilkes Booth, James Earl Ray, Mark David Chapman. Even when an assassin only had one name, they doubled it as in the case of Sirhan Sirhan. Maybe Mr. and Mrs. Wright, Sr. should have considered that when they gave birth to little Frank Lloyd.

In their attempt to identify the buyer of the home, they relied on the fact that half of the affluent Nashvillians vacation at some point in Florida where they would have become familiar with Alys Beach as they refer to the homes on the Ridge overlooking Lake Lipscomb as “luxury Alys Beach style homes with Branan White Designs interiors.”

Branan White could be this century’s answer to the legendary Herbert Rodgers. White, not Wright, has a distinctive style and has graced scores of the new successful homes that are sprouting in the Green Hills, the Land Between the Lakes.

The house at 1132 Glenwood Avenue sold for $1,520,000 a bit off the list price of $1,550,000. With 5,204 square feet and four bedrooms, four baths and a powder room, the detached member of a horizontal property regime sold for $292 per square foot.

This may not last long, so I feel the need to include this. The Atlanta Braves are in first place in the National League East and have the best record in the entire National League (May 14, 2018).

Richard Courtney is a licensed real estate broker with Christianson, Patterson, Courtney, and Associates and can be reached at