Rolling Mill Hill, the former home of Metro General Hospital and Metro’s government vehicle fleet center (the “trolley barns”), is located on a bluff just south of Broadway and Korean Veterans Boulevard.
Rolling Mill Hill is a locally designated landmark and at its heart are the hospital buildings and trolley barns, which the community insisted on preserving and adaptively reusing. The first hospital structure, a Victorian-style building dating to the 1890s, has been converted for residential use, along with a 1930s art-deco style building. The trolley barns, which have been entered on the National Register of Historic Places, were converted to office and commercial space. The historic smokestack, which is visible from several points downtown and to the east, also has been preserved and will continue to serve as a landmark and icon for the area.
Growing a neighborhood
The two converted residential buildings (the preserved Victorian and Art Deco hospital structures) and a third newly constructed building contain 72 high-end condominium units with amenities including 9- and 10-foot ceilings, massive windows with spectacular views, granite surfaces, hardwoods and other similar features. (Prospective tenants can call the condominium leasing office at 615-401-6670.)
Consistent with the vision of Rolling Mill Hill as a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood, MDHA has constructed Nance Place (left), a workforce, loft-style property with 109 units. The one-, two- and three- bedroom apartments at Nance Place include amenities such as underground parking, an interior courtyard, and community rooms on every floor. The property was recognized by the Tennessee Housing Development Agency with a 2011 “Tennessee’s Best” Award for Remarkable Achievement/Urban. In January 2012, the U.S. Green Building Council confirmed LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Homes certification for Nance Place, giving the project a “Platinum” rating — the highest possible. Nance Place is the first multi-family project in Nashville to achieve a Platinum rating. (Prospective tenants can get information on Nance Place by calling Freeman Webb, the property manager, at 615-780-0033, or by visiting www.nanceplace.com.)
In December 2012, Nashville’s first affordable apartment building designed for artists. Ryman Lofts, an MDHA owned property, features 60 one- and three-bedroom apartments that include unconventional floor plans more conducive to artistic endeavors. The entire building is ENERGY STAR certified, which was a first in Middle Tennessee. It also achieved LEED Silver designation. The development, designed by Smith Gee Studio, was named Best Affordable Apartment community up to 100 units by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The 2015 Pillars of the Industry Awards by NAHB were announced Thursday, Oct. 15. The annual awards highlight creative development concepts, great design and marketing in the apartment and condo marketplace.
Beyond Rolling Mill Hill’s residential development, several businesses have plans to relocate to the trolley barns (left). The Center for Nonprofit Management, Emma, Hands On Nashville, Centric Architecture, MDHA and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center will be among the first companies to operate from Rolling Mill Hill and the trolley barns.
Revitalizing Rutledge Hill
The cleanup and development of Rolling Mill Hill is part of a larger rebirth of Rutledge Hill, one of Nashville’s first “suburban” neighborhoods dating from the early 1800s. A new state-of-the-art Nashville Children’s Theatre, a new government complex named for former Mayor Richard Fulton, and the new Nashville Fire Department Headquarters all have arrived. An awakening retail scene on Hermitage Avenue includes new operators such as Crema Coffee and the Copper Kettle, combined with long-established business such as the Hermitage Café, Batter’s Box, U.S. Community Credit Union and Cardwell’s Market.
From Brown to Green
Rolling Mill Hill, a historic, in-town neighborhood, has been transformed from brown to green. Buildings have been recycled and prepared for new businesses and homes in our downtown, and all work has been done with an eye toward sustainability. While Nance Place is the first Platinum LEED multi-family project registered in Tennessee, the entire site is being designed as a LEED neighborhood development.
MDHA Selection Process for Rolling Mill Hill Properties
From 2003 to 2014, MDHA held six competitive requests for proposal (RFP) to select developers for different portions of the Rolling Mill Hill Master Plan. The RFP’s selection criteria included project description, developer experience, financial strength and public-private partnership. The purpose of these criteria was to maximize public benefit and minimize risk to successful execution of the Master Plan.
The latest RFP was issued in September 2015 for three parcels on Rolling Mill Hill. Ten different teams of developers submitted proposals for commercial redevelopment. MDHA established a highly qualified RFP evaluation panel: MDHA Board Vice Chair for Development Jimmy Granbery, Mayor’s Office Representative Mark Sturtevant, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville President Danny Herron, MDHA Deputy Executive Director Jim Thiltgen and MDHA Director of Affordable Housing Will Biggs.
Based on their review of the proposals and interviews, the committee selected Eakin Partners LLC, and Stiles & Hensler Development Group, LLC for parcels I and K, respectively. Eakin Partners proposes developing a 180,000 square foot mixed-use building, primarily comprised of Class-A office with a retail base, and a pocket park on lot I. Hensler Development Group is proposing a mixed-use program for lot K featuring a high-rise residential tower. It was also determined that lot J would not be awarded to a developer at this time.
At MDHA’s July 2016 Board Meeting, the Board of Commissioners approved the selections and authorized the Executive Director and MDHA staff to enter into negotiations with the two developers for their selected site.