The Tennessean- A new vision for Wedgewood-Houston

“For Darek Bell, picking the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood to expand his growing Corsair Distillery was a no-brainer.

Likewise with Bruce Boeko, whose Nashville Craft Distillery will occupy one of two new buildings that boutique developer Scott Chambers plans on Hagan Street.

“I have people ask me all the time, ‘What’s the next Gulch?’ ” Bell said. “Wedgewood-Houston has a lot of character. It’s very industrial. There’s a lot of artists, there’s a lot of makers, there’s a lot of art galleries going in. It has all the things going for it where it can be a great neighborhood. (It) reminds us of where Germantown was 10 or 15 years ago.”

Between Bell and Boeko, three distilleries are on the drawing boards for the area bordered by Greer Stadium, Fort Negley and the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

That development is ironic given that neighborhood group South Nashville Action People, which has played a critical role in guiding the neighborhood’s growth, emerged from efforts by neighbors three decades ago to drive out a nuisance beer tavern, among other goals.

The projects reflect growth of the Wedgewood-Houston area beyond a reputation as Nashville’s newest arts district. Core Development’s planned mixed-use, urban infill project — which is expected to transform an industrial corner of the area — and several new restaurants are also on tap.

“It’s really been a grass-roots kind of a process as compared to a major redevelopment,” said architect Manuel Zeitlin, who moved his offices and his wife’s art gallery to a building in the neighborhood a year ago.

Under developer Chambers’ master plan for his property, Nashville Craft Distillery will occupy a 3,900-square-foot building late this summer. “It just felt the right place to put a creative business like a craft distillery,” Boeko said.

Chambers also has preliminary plans for an 8,000-square-foot building immediately to the north of the existing building at 516 Hagan occupied by Zeitlin, Zeitgeist gallery and David Lusk Gallery. “It’s an exciting area because of the artistic, creative population that’s been there for a long time,” Chambers said. “There’s some interesting old industrial buildings that provide a … good starting point for redevelopment.”

Across from Chamber’s property, general contractor Carter Group LLC moved to the area five years ago. The company is now considering expanding its offices, although building a mixed-use development is also a possibility, said Lee Carter, a Carter Group principal.

Behind Carter Group, Core Development is pursuing a unique zoning designation for 7.3 acres to allow for a mix of uses with up to 410,000 square feet of residential and 79,000 square feet of flex space for offices, artisan workspace, retail, music venues and events.

If approved, the first phase would include 40 to 60 condo flats or apartments units, 3,000 square feet of restaurant/café space and about 4,000 square feet of flex space, said Core Vice President Andrew Beaird. “With the specific plan, we’re wanting to create a unique zoning designation that will accommodate what we’re calling a live-make community,” he said, adding that work could begin by the end of the year.”

The Tennessean- May 21, 2014

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