Ron Brice, the owner of the iconic 3rd and Lindsley music venue in the heart of downtown Nashville, unwittingly learned early in his career that the same principles behind a successful investment portfolio are also at play in the entertainment business.
The key is diversification, Brice said, taking Crain’s Nashville behind the scenes of his current headline business while also teasing an ambitious project that’s on the drawing board.
Brice started his career with a country western event venue, but business soured when country music’s popularity took a temporary dive off the charts. The experience, Brice said, motivated him to reinvent a venue that was diverse, progressive and home to the new and up-and-coming.
In 1991, with that vision setting the stage, Brice bought the warehouse space at the corner of Third Avenue South and Lindsley Avenue. At night, 3rd and Lindsley showcases a wide range of big-name musicians and future superstars. During the day, the venue is a full-service restaurant earning the reputation as a downtown hot spot for lunch.
Running one of Nashville’s most well-known venues keeps Brice pretty busy, but he’s carved out time for a side job Nashvillians may not know about.
Brice’s "second, full-time job" is real estate development – and that’s the gig that has East Nashville on the verge of becoming a new artistic hub.
The proposed development – 98 residences accompanying a performance space at the peak elevation of Davidson County – is actually several years in the making. Brice credited a friend, Richard King, for turning him onto the 35-acre property in East Nashville.
"When I got to the land, it was like 35 acres that overlooked the whole city,” Brice said. “It's the highest elevation point in Davidson County and only four miles to downtown Nashville."
For Brice, who had dabbled in real estate but never in development, the opportunity to buy the land was a no-brainer.
"I'm kind of learning as I go and just feeling my way through it. Hopefully I don't make a lot of mistakes, but it seems to have a really positive energy,” said Brice, who considers himself a complete newbie to the trade. “I feel pretty good about it. We've got a lot of good people working with us and all of our neighbors are really great and we all have a common goal of creating something special and unique."
The drawing board currently features the residential component at base level. The main attraction would be the performance space on top, showcasing a spectacular view of the city.
"It's not going to be so much of a music venue, but more of a casual destination and events place with room to expand. With both of us being in the music business, we're actually trying to create a bit of an artisan community where artists can live, hang out and create,” Brice said.
Brice said his development team is already working with the city on plans, and engineers are currently drawing up the necessary roads and infrastructure.
If everything goes to plan and with a little bit of luck, Brice said, crews could be moving land in or before spring.