First Tennessee Park is an Anchor for Future Development: Q&A with Robert Hunt, Embrey Partners

On Friday, April 17th, First Tennessee Park will celebrate opening day. Fans visiting the ballpark will be sure to notice something a bit different around the ballpark – development, cranes and construction will be everywhere. Robert Hunt, Executive Vice President of Embrey Partners, is in the process of developing the 306-unit residential building outside of right field and is looking at other options for residential and commercial development surrounding the new ballpark.

Site selection is very critical in getting a project right – it can make the difference between a good project and a great one. During that process, it’s important to consider all the site connections and all the parties involved, both public and private. When we can get them all on the same page with a master plan for the development, it creates a sum-is-greater-than-the-parts situation that can help spur both planned and organic growth.

We chatted with Robert to get his insight on what makes the site desirable for development and how the ballpark impacts the district’s development into a 365-day-a-year space.

Populous: What impact do you think First Tennessee Park will have on the former Sulphur Dell site?

Robert Hunt: I think the commitment from the city to locate the ballpark on this site as part of a public-private partnership was tremendous.  I think the city investing $47 million in this ballpark shows that it is viewed as a catalyst to regenerate and stimulate this historic area in Nashville and help accelerate development.  We’re already seeing multi-family housing, retail and restaurants going up in the area.  To the north of the ballpark and just 100 yards outside left field, the addition of a 306-unit luxury apartment building is in the works, which Embrey is responsible for. With all of this ongoing growth in the area we anticipate the stimulation of private investments to continue the development in the neighborhood.

Populous: First Tennessee Park has the ability to be a 365-day destination. Why do you think it will be successful on non-game days?

Robert Hunt:  The ballpark, from the get go, has been viewed by the city as an opportunity for much more than ballgames and it will draw traffic for more than Sounds events.  On non-game days, the ballpark will be viewed as a city amenity serving as a public park for citizens of Nashville and their families to enjoy.  Youth sports, high school games, community events and SEC ballgames could even have a place at First Tennessee Park. It makes sense for the district to have the ballpark be a focal point and be activated for a variety of purposes every day of the year.

Populous: What about this area will make people want to live, work and play here in the future?

Robert Hunt:  The momentum is underway to make this a place people will want to be in Nashville.  First off, its location is walkable and pedestrian friendly, making it accessible to professionals in the northern sectors of the city – like those who work at the Capitol building, connecting it to the Bicentennial Mall nearby and to the farmer’s market, which is open seven days a week. Combined with its location at the edge of Germantown’s new housing and adjacent to Salemtown, this neighborhood is going to grow into a destination within the city.  What were once industrial buildings along the Cumberland River are now in the process of being transformed into multi-use destinations creating a vibrant neighborhood that is going to attract people to this area. It’s also at the confluence of I65 and I24. We truly have all the ingredients for success in this district. It has a promising future as a vibrant neighborhood…. and it’s just getting started. We have been delighted to get to play a role in the development of the district surrounding the ballpark.

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