A one-house illustration of Nashville’s real estate boom

Friday, December 4, 2020, Vol. 44, No. 49

1615 S Observatory Dr

There is no end in sight for the Nashville residential real estate boom. The soothsayers and prognosticators all predict more feast than famine. “Everything will remain the same for at least two years” is the bold forecast from most.

Some of these seers have consulted with higher powers and determined that the growth will continue beyond that.

In looking forward, it is often helpful to visit the past to get a feel for how things were before. To quote Steve Elliott, “Things are more like they are right now than they were when I got here.”

A recent sale at 1615 South Observatory Drive exemplifies both Nashville’s old normal and new normal. The house was built in 1936 and had the same owner until 1995, Metro Courthouse reveal.

A family living in the same home for the entire life of its inhabitants was not unusual in those days. When children came along, they shared a bathroom and often operated out of the same closets and drawers, regardless of gender.

All closets were walk-ins for a step or maybe even two, until the child reached about 4 feet in height. At that point, the clothes would have to be observed from outside the confines of the closets.

A single closet rod ran almost 7 feet and held all the clothing of the entire coterie.

Hallways were designed to be utilized as pathways from bedrooms to bathrooms. In many families, four or five family members shared one bathroom, often the same bathwater. Hence the expression: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

In 1995, when the original owner moved on, the buyer paid $145,000 for the house across Belmont Boulevard from the Lipscomb University, which had been renamed some seven years prior. When Lipscomb was founded in downtown Nashville 1891, it was known as Nashville Bible School, founded by David Lipscomb and James Harding. Their vision was to offer an education based on a foundation of Christianity.

When the school’s student body grew to the point that it needed a larger facility, David Lipscomb and his wife Margaret offered their 110-acre property on Granny White. Perhaps that is why the school was renamed David Lipscomb rather than Harding and Lipscomb, or David and James, in the fashion of William and Mary.

The school remained David Lipscomb College until 1988 when it was renamed Lipscomb University, and shall forever more be known as Lipscomb University. President Randy Lowry, who came on board in 2005, has had a significant impact on the University, having raised more than $200 million and developed countless new program while improving and expanding the physical plant. His successes are unparalleled.

As the school has grown, the properties surrounding it have increased in value. After selling for $145,000 in 1995, the 1615 South Observatory home sold for $320,000 in 2007 as the Recession began to creep into Nashville.

Unfazed by the financial crisis, Lowry and Lipscomb University continued its improvements. The house, meanwhile, sold one year later for $724,000, more than doubling in price with each of its last two sales.

A 2016 sale resulted in a price of $867,500. As prices citywide continue to spiral upward, the property sold for $1,090,000 last week as listing agent team of Mara Thompson and Tim Bennett represented the buyers.

Long known as two of the most creative and successful, they baffled search engines as they described the home as “sweeter than blueberry pie” in their opening description.

Using every day, understandable language rather than unintelligible zoning terms that are prone to leave builders and developers alike nonplussed, they noted that the property is an elusive non-HPR. Last, but not least, they solved “the suite formerly known as a master suite” syndrome by stating that there are “primary suites” on the main floor and second floor, discarding the terms “owner’s suite” and “main suite.”

John Lott, aka Latte, served as buyer’s agent and swept the property from the market before any of the competition could get to it. After a brilliant real estate career that spans decades, Lott was encouraged to make his hobby his avocation and his paintings are garnering worldwide acclaim.

He partners with his partner, Kim “Coco” Fennell, in their real estate ventures and have been able to remain partners in their professional and private lives for years, a feat that has challenged mand fail for often than not.

Latte and Coco sold the home listed by Mara and Tim that includes five bedrooms, four bathrooms and a two-car garage. Dating back to it 1936 construction, someone is going to have to share a bathroom. Heaven forbid!

Richard Courtney is a licensed real estate broker with Fridrich and Clark Realty, LLC and can be reached at richard@richardcourtney.com.