Massive three-tower project planned at Deja Vu’s 12th and Demonbreun site

Getahn Ward |
Source: Tennessean

A three-tower project with residential, hotel and office uses is being designed for 3 acres on Demonbreun Street, including where strip club Deja Vu will close its doors this weekend. 

Austin, Texas-based Endeavor Real Estate Group has a contract to buy the block between 12th and 13th avenues south and Demonbreun and McGavock streets for the project. That’s the same developer behind the Whole Foods-anchored residential project for which construction will start next month on the former Nelson Mazda dealership site at Broadway and 12th Avenue North.

On Tuesday, Endeavor will go before the Metro Development and Housing Agency’s design review committee seeking to extend to a greater portion of the site the maximum height of 28 stories allowable under the Downtown Code at the key intersection of 12th and Demonbreun. In exchange, the developer is offering a public open space “plaza” that will feature public art, outdoor seating and trees, and is committing to meet or exceed sidewalk design standards. 

A conceptual massing showing the three towers planned at 12th and Demonbreun including Deja Vu’s former home.  HKS INc.

Under Endeavor’s plans, the office building is expected to rise 21 stories on the west side of the three acres along Demonbreun Street and 13th Avenue South. The residential and hotel towers would each rise 28 stories and include rooftop amenity decks along with retail space.

Fred Kane, vice president of land services with commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield Nashville, said if up to 28 stories is allowed, the site could fetch a price in the $275 to $350 per square foot, or $40 million, range. 

“Such developments with multiple uses create a destination with a synergy that people can live, work and go out to dinner without going to other parts of the city,” Kane said.

Endeavor’s Managing Principal Jamil Alam said construction of the office building as the first phase of the three-tower project would likely start within a year, assuming approvals such as extension of the height allowed at 12th and Demonbreun across a greater portion of the site

“Having a mixed-use development of this scale truly lives up to the mantra of being able to live, work and play,” Jason Crist, a senior vice president and associate principal with Dallas-based architect HKS Inc., concluded Endeavor’s application letter to the MDHA design review committee. “It will be fun to see what this will do for the urban fabric of Nashville.”

Endeavor also proposes reducing from 10 to seven the number of curb cuts on the entire block, which is located in the South Gulch neighborhood linking downtown and Midtown Nashville. 

Jamil Alam, a managing principal in Endeavor Real Estate Group, which has roughly three acres in the South Gulch under contract. (Photo: Endeavor Real Estate Group)

The office tower is expected to have 300,000 to 325,000 square feet of space, Alam said.

The hotel is expected to have between 230 and 300 rooms, while the three towers will have a combined total of 25,000 square feet of ground-level retail space along Demonbreun Street and 12th Avenue South with a portion also facing McGavock Street. Alam said Endeavor hasn’t decided whether the units at the residential tower would be apartments or condos.

Under Endeavor’s contract, the three-acre block is expected to be purchased in phases from a partnership that includes local real estate investor Dave Arnholt and Jim Caden.

In addition to the parcel at 1214 Demonbreun — Deja Vu Showgirls’ longtime home and from which that strip club moved to Church Street— the under-contract project footprint includes the former Access Car Rental site at 1204 Demonbreun; and the building at 1207 McGavock, where Caden has his offices, with FH Design and HOTBOX Fitness also tenants.

The property that Endeavor has under contract doesn’t include a sliver of land between where the Deja Vu buildings sits and 13th Avenue South, which condo developer Ray Hensler owns between Demonbreun Street and an alley.

In response to concerns about increased traffic, Alam said the best place to put density is at the intersection of a highway and major corridor as part of mixed-use project. “That way people jump off the highway, pull into the project, walk to lunch, get right on the highway and go home,” he added.

Separately, Endeavor has financing in place for the Whole Foods-anchored project planned for the former Mazda dealership location with construction expected to start within a month.

“We think it’s important to help stitch together 12th Avenue from Demonbreun north to the Whole Foods at Broadway,” Alam said about his vision. “Creating that pedestrian-friendly connection is going to be a game-changer and really critical for the success of that district.”