Brookfield Properties’ Fifth + Broadway creates a link between the Music City’s famed cultural landmarks.

06/14/2021 | by
Brookfield's 5th + Broadway cityscape shot
Photo by ZACK BENSON, ZACKBENSONPHOTO. Courtesy Brookfield Properties.

Fifth + Broadway, an ambitious mixed-use project in downtown Nashville, has turned the former site of a convention center into a thriving community meeting point that celebrates the city’s unique musical heritage and melds seamlessly with its other iconic destinations.

One of the largest single mixed-use developments in the history of Nashville and the state of Tennessee to date, Fifth + Broadway is owned by Brookfield Properties, a subsidiary of Brookfield Property Partners (Nasdaq: BPY).

Located at the corner of Broadway and John Lewis Way (formerly Fifth Avenue) across from the popular Bridgestone Arena and the historic Ryman Auditorium that is owned by Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc. (NYSE: RHP) , Fifth + Broadway replaced the 6.2-acre Nashville Convention Center. 

The project includes The Place, a 34-story, 386 residential rental unit tower and 372,000 square feet of class-A office space at 501 Commerce, anchored by investment management firm AllianceBernstein’s headquarters, plus 2,000 parking spots. It’s also home to the 56,000- square-foot National Museum of African American Music, and 200,000 square feet of dining, entertainment, and retail.

The multi-year project began with a request for proposal (RFP) issued by Metro Nashville to redevelop the old convention center site. The RFP was won by local developer Pat Emery, who partnered with Brookfield Properties. Together they worked with Nashville’s Metro Development and Housing Authority on tax increment financing for certain components of the project. The original plans focused on office and retail but through Brookfield’s involvement, and the evolution of the process over time, the vision for the site expanded to include residential and additional offerings. It became a destination.

Museum Magnet

The addition of the National Museum of African American Music is the “cornerstone” of the public and private collaboration and the culmination of two decades of planning, according to Brookfield Properties. 

“We accommodated the core and shell space for the National Museum of African American music as part of the RFP and it is arguably one of our most significant anchors and an integral part of Fifth + Broadway,” says Burgin Dossett, vice president of mixed use development at Brookfield Properties.

The museum opened on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021. Even with limited COVID-19 hours, the response to the museum has been overwhelming and it’s been regularly sold out since opening.

Brookfield's 5th + Broadway cityscape shot
The residences offer elegant comfort above the booming city. Photo by ZACK BENSON, ZACKBENSONPHOTO. Courtesy Brookfield Properties.

The museum is dedicated to inspiring and educating communities about the important role African Americans played and continue to play in shaping the music industry. Exhibitions trace thirteen historical eras and draw on a collection of 1,600 artifacts, such as a guitar owned by legendary blues musician B.B. King.

“The museum involved public, private, and nonprofit sectors collaborating to get the best outcome possible,” explains Butch Spyridon, president and CEO, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. (NCVC), which is contracted by the city to cover its destination sales, marketing, and branding. 

This spring, Fifth + Broadway also launched Art in Motion, a month-long celebration of local art and artists. The series featured live painting and culminated in the April unveiling of four six by nine foot pieces created by local artists and installed in moveable frames throughout the property to introduce new audiences to their work. 

“Art in Motion is a great example of our perpetual effort to engage the creative heartbeat of the city to make this a truly special place worth returning to again and again,” says Tom Miller, general manager of Fifth + Broadway. “Fifth + Broadway is a celebration of Nashville. It is more than a project to us; it is a showcase of what makes Nashville special.”

Brookfield's 5th + Broadway art gallery
"Art in Motion is a great example of our perpetual effort to engage the creative heartbeat of the city to make this a truly special place worth returning to again and again." - Tom Miller, General Manager of Fifth + Broadway.

The development’s new tenants share that view. “Fifth + Broadway is a meeting point of the community that has really allowed the scope of downtown to change a bit, but it still feels authentic to Nashville,” says Bree Richmond, vice president of retail at Tecovas, a growing western wear brand. 

The store, along with the majority of the development’s retail component, opened on March 4 and the initial reception has exceeded expectations, despite underlying pandemic challenges. Part of that, according to Richmond, has been the integration of Fifth + Broadway’s design and offerings into the existing fabric of the city. “It’s not competing with the culture of Nashville; it’s additive,” she says.

Stakeholder Collaboration

The scale of development required bringing all the public and private stakeholders together, coalesced around a vision for “Nashville like never before.” Its proximity to the Ryman Auditorium and Bridgestone Arena provided a unique opportunity to lift all ships. 

“Locals flock to both of those venues, and now they have the opportunity to shop and dine before or after. It’s a more than welcome addition to the city’s offerings,” Spyridon says. Fifth + Broadway is also within blocks of Music City Center, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the popular Honky Tonk tourism district.

“There’s a real excitement among all of these stakeholders. We want Fifth + Broadway to be an extension of what they do,” Miller says. “We want to complement their businesses. We share the same customers and want to be sure that we’re directing people to their establishments, and likewise.”

According to Spyridon, if there was a weakness to the city’s previous offerings, it was retail, “so we were pretty excited to work with [Brookfield].”  Fifth + Broadway brought in more than 10 retailers, including national brands like Sephora and Apple, as well as local retailers like Molly Green, a family-owned clothing boutique. 

“We’re partnering with Brookfield on servicing both local and out-of-town customers, leveraging them as a new addition to the city’s offerings,” Spyridon says. Together, Brookfield and NCVC plan to respond to market needs, reach the popular bus tour crowds, and bring in more local retailers, he adds.

For growing brands like Tecovas, Nashville seemed like a perfect fit. “Our brand has really deep roots in country music. Being based in Austin, country music is a part of our DNA,” says Richmond, “so opening in Nashville made sense.”  

Since its launch five years ago, Tecovas has grown to 14 stores, the Nashville store the latest. “For us, the right location is in the heart of it all. Broadway is really where Nashville comes alive,” Richmond says. Tecovas joined Fifth + Broadway in the early leasing stages. “Brookfield has always been really supportive and an awesome partner.”

The store’s design reflects Nashville flavor and music history: Tecovas commissioned an artist to create an eight by five foot wall mural foot that is a tribute to the Ryman Auditorium. The decor includes locally sourced vintage items and musical instruments. The location has between 10 to 15 employees and has navigated the pandemic by focusing on safety and personal service in smaller numbers. 

“We’ve been busier than we expected, and we’ve had the opportunity to introduce people to the brand, and do several great in-store, personal experiences,” Richmond says. 

Elevated Offerings

While the 386 luxury rental units at The Place and class-A office space at its office tower 501 Commerce will likely draw newcomers and young professionals alike, Fifth + Broadway also hopes to entice local Nashvillians. 

“We offer an elevated downtown that’s still approachable. Maybe you’re coming to an event down here at the theater, and you’re looking for something else to complement it like dining or shopping” Miller says. “We see this as a benefit to Nashvillians first and foremost. It’s a better overall value proposition, if you live in Nashville.”

Fifth + Broadway’s mix of fast-casual and elevated dining options is designed to reach everyone and includes national and local names. The development has also provided the opportunity for the first Black-owned restaurants in the downtown area, Spyridon says, referring to local staple Prince’s Hot Chicken and the entrepreneur-led Slim + Husky’s Pizza Beeria, designed around a “love for hip hop & R&B culture.” 

Brookfield's 5th + Broadway shops
Photo by SAM CALDERON, RAWEXPOSURE Courtesy Brookfield Properties.

The multi-level Assembly Food Hall is a comprehensive culinary and entertainment destination, offering a 100,000-square-foot central gathering place with more than two dozen food spaces and bars and a full-service restaurant focused on wine, all with access to a rooftop live music venue.

“Most Nashvillians are completely shocked at the scale, the scope, and the quality of the development…and that it fits seamlessly downtown,” Spyridon says.  

Fifth + Broadway has also attracted top names in fine dining like 12-time James Beard Award Nominee Sam Fox, founder of Fox Restaurant Concepts. 

“There was an immense hole in the market for something more upscale, particularly something around food and entertainment,” says Fox, who had a previous relationship with Dene Oliver, chief vision officer at Brookfield Properties and previously the co-founder and owner of real estate development firm OliverMcMillan in San Diego. “We heard about the opportunity at Fifth + Broadway and we reached out.”

In March, Fox opened Blanco Cocina + Cantina, focused on Sonoran style Mexican food built around expert cocktails. It’s the restaurant’s seventh location and the first in Nashville. The restaurant group subdivided its larger 35,000 square foot lease with Blanco taking roughly 4,500 of the bottom level. Blanco exceeded Fox’s initial expectations for its opening month with continuous bookings. 

The remaining leased space provided an opportunity for an “entirely new concept at a  one-of-a-kind location,” Fox explains. This new venture is called the Twelve Thirty Club, a modern take on the classic supper club. It’s a multilevel experience: a Honky Tonk vibe with live music on the first level, followed by an intimate 50-person cocktail lounge, then a 400-seat supper club with live music and a rooftop terrace with city views. 

Between the two dining experiences, Fox expects to employ 350 people, a welcome number for an industry impacted by the pandemic. “COVID has been a huge challenge and we are on the backside of that challenge. We’re thankful for the team and everyone’s hard work, and excited to get this project wrapped up,” he says.

These dining ventures enhance the impact of Brookfield’s large philosophy for the city. “Fifth + Broadway is the evolution of lower Broadway, which had typically been only Honky Tonks and bars, and not necessarily elevated experiences and dining opportunities,” Fox says.

A Sense of Place

Brookfield's 5th + Broadway shops
Fifth + Broadway offers spots to soak up the city’s musical vibe, or just plain people watch. Photo by SAM CALDERON, RAWEXPOSURE Courtesy Brookfield Properties.

Brookfield Properties estimates that Fifth + Broadway will create more than 1,000 retail-related jobs and facilitate more than 2,000 office jobs, in addition to the 7,000 construction jobs it created during development. With the state’s vaccine rollout continuing, Brookfield Properties aims to host more elaborate opening celebrations safely with its food hall and roof deck concert venue fully operational. 

The reception to Fifth + Broadway has already been “outstanding” in the community, Spyridon says. “It’s still in its infancy so we think the potential benefits to the city and community have only just begun.” The diverse offerings have attracted both tourists and local residents to downtown Nashville, while also creating jobs and boosting the tax base. 

“There’s now a sense of community and place. Brookfield put all the pieces together,” Fox says. 

For its part, Brookfield recognizes the ongoing trend towards mixed-use development and how cities continue to embrace the model.  “It’s about bringing the best and the brightest together in cities at high profile sites like Fifth + Broadway,” Dossett says.

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