With news the long-awaited Donelson Branch Library has a Metro government green light to begin construction in the middle of the redevelopment of Donelson Plaza, developers of the plaza’s revitalization said things are picking up, and the coming months will be exciting.
“The news about the library’s funds released is exciting,” said Allen Arender, a partner at developer Holladay Properties. “They are moving along and had a delay for a year with the pandemic.”
Arender said while the company is not involved in the construction of the Metro branch, the news sparked a new vibe at the plaza. A local councilman agreed.
“The partnership between Holladay Properties and Metro Nashville government has been a private-public partnership in the truest sense of the phrase and will be looked back upon as a best practices model for other communities to follow,” said Jeff Syracuse, Metro councilmember in District 15. “From the shared cost of infrastructure to the new businesses matched with the public investment of a new library and public green space, the revitalized area is both preserved as the beloved heart of the Donelson community while reimagining it with new energy and new opportunities for businesses and neighbors alike. The Donelson Plaza is becoming a wonderful balance of live-work-play that supports a regional transit system with the WeGo Star.
The beloved town center will bring a buzzy, eclectic new vibe with mixed-use spaces to shop, eat and live.
Arender said the new Donelson Plaza is moving forward as 2021 evolves.
Donelson Plaza was a mainstay in the community for years with such businesses as Chester’s and Castner Knott. Donelson Plaza opened in 1961, and Castner Knott was its anchor tenant.
With the fresh refurbish and mammoth redevelopment, the area will be a new urban town center. The relocation of the Donelson Branch Library will take center stage in the development, but also the existing space will have new facades, green space, eateries, retail, office and even apartments.
“Believe it or not, our tenants have managed well so far,” said Arender. “We’ve signed on a few new leases. [Last year] was a different year for sure. Now, 2021 looks so promising.”
He said Homegrown Taproom is doing well.
“We bought the plaza property about three years ago,” Arender said.
It was an about $8 million purchase.
“We felt it was a big site in the heart of Donelson,” he said. “There’s great retail space, and we wanted to reimagine the space and are aiming to create a town center – to go from all retail that it was to a mixed used with office, retail and residential apartments.
The current existing spaces not part of the new construction are in the midst of a major redo and refresh, said Arender.
“We are currently working on three prime spots totaling 8,000 square feet,” he said.
One of the spaces will be on the lower level, and the other two spaces will be upstairs.
Along with building new offices and remodeling the inside and outside of current space, there’s a push for new landscaping, parking areas and more.
“It will be a whole new look,” said Arender. “It’s happening as we speak. And, it’s so exciting.”
All of the Holladay offices are relocated from Elm Hill Pike and are now present.
Tree islands are already built in the parking lots, and soon plants will appear in those. A green space is planned in front of the library. A courtyard is planned between the offices and the library.
A 5,000-square-feet restaurant, yet to be announced, is also targeted.
“It will be street level,” said Arender.
What’s brand new is the Game Cave inside the newly renovated Donelson Plaza. It’s up the breezeway.
“Yes, we are open,” said owner and manager Travis Hall. “We are everything gaming.”
And, unless someone is in that world, it’s a bit confusing. It’s draw is Magic the Gathering, board games, Warmachine, Ultra Pro, Infinity, Dice Masters, HeroClix, Flames of War, Vanguard, Guild Ball, X-Wing and much more.
Arender said tenant Donelson Air will be gone, and the space will be torn down.
Apartments are on the agenda.
“We hope to add apartments over time,” he said. “Some will be to the left of where Donelson Air is now.”
Arender said Donelson Air’s lease will end during the summer.
There are 120 units planned in the apartments, one and two bedrooms and up to three stories. Early fall 2023 is the target date. He said work continues through some planning on the apartment aspect of the center, with movement expected at the end of the year.
There are 35 existing businesses in the plaza. In addition to HomeGrown and Holladay Properties office spaces, West Coast Taco, Strike & Spare, Southern Thrift and Dollar Tree, among others, are currently at Donelson Plaza.
“I think we are seeing a lot of recent activity and interest,” said Arender. “Basically, just so many more people [are] coming to the center – a daily activity uptick.
As the economy and confidence reemerges from the COVID-19 cocoon, developers believe the project will emerge robust with new announcements forthcoming soon.