Nashville’s apartment market remains white-hot. And developers and marketing agents are taking innovative steps to differentiate their rental properties in hopes of grabbing their fair share of the 100-plus people moving to Music City each day.
Most recently, Chicago-based developer Akara Partners have decided to dip their toes in the market with its 20-story, 421-unit Kenect Nashville apartments planned for Midtown. Meanwhile, residents are expected to begin moving into developer Tony Giarratana’s 505 downtown skyscraper next month.
Developers are seeking to stand out from competing apartment complexes in any way they can, and some are capitalizing on what’s right next door.
Standing out in a sea of options
Developer Andrew Steffens of Alliance Residential explained that as a local developer working under a national platform, his goal is to hone in the feel and vibe of a particular neighborhood.
“The exterior architecture will tie into the history of the neighborhood and the historical buildings around it," Steffens said. "The same goes for the interior. I try to bring things from outside around the neighborhood to the inside.”
Steffens achieves this by looking to local artisans and craftsmen to bring a little taste of Nashville culture into the spaces. At his 8South building, Steffens has relied on makers like Ryan Surratt of wood and design company Ausden Inc. to create thoughtful, customized pieces that reflect the surrounding neighborhood.
“Most of the time, our big thing is to meet with the client and get a feel for what they're doing," Surratt said. "8South has an urban, refined speakeasy feel. It's a modern take on some things from the past."
Surratt and his team have created more than 15 pieces for the Broadstone 8South location, including desks, accent furniture pieces and the rope swings out front. The Broadstone developer has also partnered with Andrew Ferrin of Ferrin Iron Works and the Goodwood Nashville team, who fashion reclaimed Tennessee barn wood into custom mantles.
A trend in the making
Steffens isn’t the only developer capitalizing on Nashville’s affinity for all things local. According to Cory Owak, property manager of The SoBro Nashville, local artisans were also used in designing their 32-story apartment building which opened last year.
The SoBro also has something no one else has: a resident musician. Already the second-tallest building in Nashville, The SoBro set itself apart even more with an April music competition, complete with a prize of a year of free rent.
“We wanted to really connect the artist community with the residents," Owak said. "It also gave someone an opportunity they might not have had before to live right downtown in a brand new building.”
Does all this effort make a difference?
Steffens believes it does, and is having no trouble leasing his luxury apartment units.
“When you're looking for a new apartment, you're not going to pick the first one. You're going to shop around. If the design is better and more cohesive, nine times out of ten, that potential resident will pick the building that looks cooler,” he said.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Ryan Surratt of wood and design company Ausden Inc. We sincerely regret the error.