The Nations sign in West Nashville

This sign (from a closed business) greets you as you enter The Nations neighborhood on 51st Avenue in West Nashville.

Responses when I ask people about The Nations:

“What is The Nations?”

“I think I’ve heard of that area … ”

“Five of my friends just bought houses in The Nations. They love it!”

“Is that part of Sylvan Park?”

Maybe you visited The Stone Fox (which really helped pave the way for this neighborhood) before it recently closed and was turned into House: A Social Eatery. Or perhaps you’ve heard the buzz about Nashville’s restaurant, Fifty First Kitchen & Bar, then you know of The Nations, as this is the neighborhood in which each is found, just down the street from one another. As rents and real estate skyrocket in Nashville, opportunities are found in areas that once didn’t get the heavy foot traffic that they do today. This is one such neighborhood, and it’s only getting hotter.

On a recent visit to this part of town, I stopped by The Mill, located at the bustling intersection of 51st and Illinois. Sisters Allie Abide and Lauren Miller own this women’s boutique known for trendy, affordable fashions. They represent exactly who The Nations is attracting, as both are also neighborhood residents. Allie and Lauren are from New Orleans and grew up with the mindset to support the community in which you live. So opening up The Nations’ first retail shop seemed a logical decision when they were looking for a spot to hang their shingle. Allie gushed about how much she loves this part of Nashville. Her neighbors include folks from old-school Nashville families who grew up in swanky ZIP codes, newcomers to Music City and people moving from other neighborhoods (they cite new neighbors from Bellevue, East Nashville and Sylvan Park), who want hip, fun and affordable and are finding it just north of Charlotte Pike. The typical home buyer is younger and embracing this transitional neighborhood filled with dense housing, sidewalks and lots of energy. The Nashville Business Journal reported in June 2015 that there were more than 400 homes under construction in The Nations, with another 200 coming.

The Mill sisters

Lauren Miller and Allie Abide opened their women’s boutique, The Mill, after already having a thriving business solely based off their Instagram account @shopthemill. Now, with a bricks-and-mortar location, the store is busy with loyal customers, both in the store and via social media.

The Mill inside

Most items at The Mill are between $20 and $90, and their “sweet spot” is $30 to $49.

Shop The Mill Koozie

Each purchase comes with a free koozie!

Modern Contemporary design home in The Nations

With so many homes planned, under construction or recently finished, you’ll find a wide range of architecture. These two homes were favorites for their modern, clean lines.

The Nations block of new homes

This is a typical Nations scene. Skinny, vertical homes lined up to provide a higher-density footprint. Some of the homes in the photo above are complete and some (note the pink homes don’t yet have siding) are still being built.

Modern architecture in The Nations neighborhood Nashville

These homes are a bit larger, and their contemporary look is welcome. Almost all of the homes have garages or parking in the front.

Here is another shot of a block in The Nations with all new homes. These are larger than some of the other homes found on other blocks.

Here is another shot of a block in The Nations with all new homes. These are larger than some of the homes found on other blocks.

This shot shows you a common scene: two new homes on what was likely a lot with just one home before. You can see the older home next to these homes.

This shot shows you a common scene: two new homes on what was likely a lot with just one home before. You can see the older home next door.

Much appreciated was when it was obvious that the builder made the decision to have a harder build, but save the old tree. Having a substantial number of trees taller than homes makes a neighbor feel more anchored.

Much appreciated was when it was obvious that the builder made the decision to have a harder build, but save the old tree. Having a substantial number of trees taller than homes makes a neighborhood feel more anchored.

The Nations is still filled with plenty of auto repair shops (I’ve been to Capley’s Collision more times than I’d like to admit) and industrial buildings, but there is much new being blended with the old. As of now, you’ll find a BarreAmped studio, St. Luke’s This-N-That Shop, Tinwings, The Mill, Fifty First Kitchen & Bar, Music City Boxing, Take Away Catering and custom furniture company Ausden Inc. Soon construction will start on the empty corner of Illinois and 51st, and a multiuse space will emerge with retail on the ground floor and residences above. At that point, this intersection is going to need both a stoplight and a crosswalk. And while I’m putting together a wish list, a grassy median with trees stretching from where the I-40 overpass is and down 51st Avenue would be fabulous.

Also of note, Fat Bottom Brewery is relocating over here from East Nashville and will enjoy more than double the seating capacity with expanded menu options. Its new location is just down the street from Speakeasy Spirits Distillery, making 44th Avenue a fun corner of the neighborhood to visit!

It’s no wonder this area is getting firm footing as a great place to open a business or buy a home. Just down the street, there has been an explosion of businesses on Charlotte Pike (think Porter Road Butcher, Hattie B’s, M.L. Rose and Flip Burger joining longer established Miel, Bobbie’s Dairy Dip and Fabu) and access to I-40 is easy. Real estate in Sylvan Park has done nothing but skyrocket, so new, affordable housing options so close by are an easy sell.

Barre Amped has several locations in town, including this one on 51st Avenue.

BarreAmped has several locations in town, including this one on 51st Avenue.

The This N That Thrift Store has been run by St. Luke's for years to support the needs of this neighborhood as historically the population has not been able to afford all new clothing and furniture.

The This-N-That Thrift Store supports the St. Luke’s Community House.

TinWings is a catering company who also supplying many with meals each Wednesday. Get on their email list and you can pick up or have your food delivered.

Tinwings is a catering company that also supplies many with meals each Wednesday. Get on their email list, and you can pick up or have your food delivered.

Fifty First Kitchen & Bar is now open and provides yet another reason to make plans to visit The Nations.

Fifty First Kitchen & Bar is now open and provides yet another reason to visit The Nations.

How do you access The Nations? The easiest response is this: You know the crazy bank building with the geometric gold roof on Charlotte Pike just across from St. Ann’s? Turn there, go past Coco’s Italian Market and under I-40 and voila, you are there. Drive around and see all the construction taking place, pick up to-go food at Tinwings (check out our story here for how to order and when to pick up) and buy a new necklace or outfit at The Mill. Eat lunch or listen to live music over dinner at The Stone Fox, be seen and enjoy an incredible meal at Fifty First Kitchen & Bar and work your booty at BarreAmped. Stroll the neighborhoods with American flags flying in summer’s patriotic pride. And consider dropping off your clothes for charity, or shopping for deals, at This-N-That.

The Nations is a neighborhood to keep on your radar and start enjoying. And if you are wondering where the name comes from, since most of the streets are named after states, not countries, it comes from the Chickasaw Nations Native American tribe who lived in the area in the 1700s. Or at least that is one of the many theories that abounds …!

For an updated guide of where to eat in The Nations (updated summer 2016) see: Where to Eat in The Nations … and Eat Well!

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