Even if you’re only vaguely aware that the Charlotte Park neighborhood exists, don’t worry — that’s about to change. It’s no secret that Nashville is growing more rapidly than we can say “urban planning.” With the success of recent rehab projects and industrial building makeovers, mixed-use development continues to work its way into pockets of Music City. One of the latest neighborhoods under heavy transformation is Charlotte Park.
Charlotte Park’s boundary lines are hazy at best, and they vary slightly depending on whether you consult Google Maps or one of the five nearby neighborhood associations (which all appear to have their own spin on it). Adding another layer of ambiguity, two of the associations are re-drawing the neighborhood lines when they merge in the near future. With that in mind, it seems easiest to think of Charlotte Park loosely — a somewhat triangular area between the Cumberland River and The Nations that backs up to Charlotte Avenue’s Hill Center at Nashville West. The salient point is that Robertson Avenue is about to see a flurry of activity in the coming months, with major development progress by the fourth quarter of 2021.
Metro council member Mary Carolyn Roberts, who’s largely responsible for The Nations’ overhaul, can also be credited with inspiring the changes in Charlotte Park. And while some might be reluctant to make comparisons between those two areas of town, there are some striking similarities. A realtor with The Wilson Group, Mary Carolyn knows an up-and-coming neighborhood when she sees it. “When I first moved over to The Nations about 11 years ago, because I’m in real estate, I would drive people up and down 51st Avenue and I would paint this vision I had,” she says of her inaugural expansion endeavors. “But nobody wanted to be a pioneer; nobody wanted to be the first business, so it was a slower process than I thought.” It took her some time to get people on board with Charlotte Park, too, but all it takes is one developer who’s willing to set the trend. “Once the first domino fell,” she explains, “all of a sudden, all of these people that I’ve been driving up and down the street for years were like, ‘I think there’s a good vibe over there.’” That trial-and-error process also offered a wealth of knowledge heading into the Charlotte Park project. Using her experiences with The Nations as a guide, Mary Carolyn is better equipped to cherry-pick projects, and with a lot of already-zoned commercial and industrial areas on Robertson Avenue (including our SB office!), she doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.
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While most of the initial plans are still hush-hush, Charlotte Park’s first phase of construction is a four-acre mixed-use project at the corner of Vernon and Robertson Avenues, led by real estate investment firm Vintage South Development. “In no way do I want to compare the Charlotte Park area to The Nations because it’s a completely different neighborhood, and we respect and like that,” says founder Nathan Lyons, “but we developed the Stocking 51 project in The Nations, so our hope and intent are to create an environment on Robertson that’s similar to what we did there.” They haven’t yet broken ground on the Robertson Avenue complex, which will be a blend of commercial, residential and office space. “We have yet to officially release details of our plans,” he tells us. “We’re still working on them, but we do own the property.” He’s excited to deliver what he hopes will become the neighborhood hub. “Nathan was a pioneer in The Nations, so he has my trust,” Mary Carolyn tells us. “[His project in Charlotte Park] is the only big rezone I’ve done during the pandemic, and the reason I did it is that I already trust him. He keeps the old buildings, which I’m a big fan of.”
Aside from the Vintage South complex, former pro quarterback Marc Bulger collaborated with some friends to buy the entirety of Duluth Avenue, an industrial-lighted street on which he intends to build an Olympic curling center that neighbors can utilize, and Mary Carolyn has her eye on something unique for the Richland Baptist Church, which serves as the Robertson corridor entry point. “I’m holding out for that church to be something really special because it sets the tone for the whole neighborhood,” she explains of her plans for the building at 5701 Robertson Avenue. “We’re talking to them right now about what that’s going to look like. We’ve had people pitch us a lot of stuff, but we need to wait until the right thing comes along.”
Once Nathan completes his first phase, four other major Charlotte projects aren’t far behind, including a big retail project on Croley Drive and another proposed at the corner of Sterling Street and Robertson. “It’s going to be transformative,” Mary Carolyn says. “It’s going to look like an awkward teenager for a minute and then it’s going to just blossom.”
Speaking of blossoming, the Robertson Avenue makeover includes an aesthetic upgrade that promises a picturesque springtime view in the years to come. The councilwoman has an urban design overlay in the works, with a dogwood tree planted every 15 feet. “Every developer who builds has to help us do it,” she says, “but the neighbors are going to buy in as well. It’s going to create a streetscape for that area, and when the trucks are gone, it’s going to feel like a different world over there.”
As if that weren’t intriguing enough, residents can look forward to some peace and quiet in the coming months, thanks to the truck bridge that’s being built to divert traffic caused by local construction and the nearby REOstone Quarry. The bridge, which should be completed by the end of the year, is a huge blessing for those who live and work in the bustling zone. Mary Carolyn recalls exactly where she was when the idea surfaced. “I was knocking on doors,” she says, “and this woman asks, ‘Would you like to come in through the back of the house? In the daytime, we can’t stand in the front because of all the dirt and noise.’” It was a deal-changing moment for the councilwoman, who immediately thought, If I can get elected, I’m going to change that. Even driving up and down the Robertson corridor for 10 minutes is enough to offer perspective on just how much traffic she’s referring to, which reaches nearly 1,000 trucks per day. “Nobody saw the explosion of growth that Nashville was going to have, and all of those businesses down there — paving companies, the rock quarry — they’re fueling the city’s growth,” she explains. “But now, it’s not conducive to have that in the middle of a neighborhood.” Thankfully, the rock quarry company agreed to help build the bridge. “The only deal I had to make was that their facility goes underground,” she tells us. “They’re going to build a 30-foot berm with cypress trees on top at the end of the road so you can’t even see the rock quarry, and then they’re going to dump all of that truck traffic onto Cockrill Bend. I’m so excited about what’s happening over there! I get chills talking about it because it’s really a miracle — it’s going to change people’s lives.”
Commercial real estate isn’t the only thing that’s growing by leaps and bounds in Charlotte Park. Residential real estate is thriving, too, in part, due to the success of other local developments. “Given the popularity of The Nations, it is quite natural the neighboring Charlotte Park community is now popular too,” offers Village Real Estate and CityLiving Group founder, Mark Deutschmann. “Both offer close proximity to downtown, the river and greenways. And while both neighborhoods enjoy access to the Cumberland River, Charlotte Park has direct access with the Rock Harbor Marina, where one can launch anything from a paddleboard to a pontoon to a luxury cruiser. And of course, there’s the Blue Moon Café, with drinks and dining on the river.”
“What’s also great is there are two parks close by — Charlotte Park and West Park,” adds Mary Carolyn.
That’s not all. The architectural diversity in Charlotte Park offers dynamic housing options, from post-war to contemporary, at a slightly lower price tag than The Nations. “There’s a little bit of a hybrid, which I like,” says Mary Carolyn of the local architecture. “I like the diversity. It’s creating a scenario where it’s not so homogenous.” The homes have humble beginnings, and she’s doing her best to ensure that people don’t over-expand. Built in the shadow of the Ford Glass Plant, the Charlotte Park neighborhood was initially home to those working there. “The people who were working inside, but not in the upper echelon, were the Robertson Road folk,” Mary Carolyn explains. “And the people who had inside desk jobs were the true Charlotte Park people.” But while that segregation may have been evident in decades past, that’s not the case these days. The original neighborhood homes, mostly brick, offer charm in spades, while new builds add contrast with a more modern feel. “New homes are being built everywhere in Charlotte Park and people are scooping them up,” says Mark. “I don’t know how many homes in The Nations and Charlotte Park are under 10 years old or under construction, but if you haven’t driven or biked through those neighborhoods in a while, you will be shocked.” One such site that’s currently under construction is The Becanni, a 66-townhome and cottage complex that’s being sold by The CityLiving Group.
Charlotte Park is definitely changing and we expect to see it become a similar hot Nashville neighborhood in the vein of 12South, Germantown, the Gulch, and The Nations.
Updated: Saturday, January 23, 2021
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