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VOL. 37 | NO. 17 | Friday, April 26, 2013

Boom with a view

From Sylvan Heights to East Nashville and surrounding counties, real estate is looking up

By Bill Lewis

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Motorists on Interstate 440 are sharing a disorienting experience. A glance at the city’s skyline confirms they are in Nashville, but the startling appearance of a dozen sleek, ultra-modern homes on the hillside above may convince them they are in L.A.

“It’s like being in the Hollywood hills,” says Michael Beauchamp, who is building his own modern home on Nevada Avenue.

Attracted by what Realtor Ted Pins calls “killer views” of the city, owners began construction of the modern houses almost a decade ago on a hillside not far from where I-440 and I-40 connect west of downtown.

The idea originated with Joe Kovalick, president of Dream Inc. in Nashville, who developed six of the homes in consultation with architects including Manuel Zeitlin, Ryan Thewes, Steve Durden and Eric Scowden.

“People thought we were crazy,” says Sunday Camp, vice president and designer for Dream Inc. In addition to helping create Nashville’s most visible modern homes, the company provides historic preservation, additions and renovations.

Camp, who designed the homes’ interiors, says she and Kovalick wanted to introduce a new style of home to the city.

“Nashville needed it,” she says.

Other architects, builders and home owners, like Beauchamp, agreed, and additional homes sprang up over the years.

“People thought we were crazy,” says Sunday Camp, vice president and designer for Dream Inc. In addition to helping create Nashville’s most visible modern homes, the company provides historic preservation, additions and renovations.

-- Photo: Lyle Graves | Nashville Ledger

With flat roofs and contemporary, rectangular shapes, the houses resemble little else in Nashville. Some, like Beauchamp’s, are constructed with traditional building materials. Others feature materials ordinarily found in commercial construction. Several have metal exteriors.

Two of the modern homes that have sprouted in the 33rd Avenue North/Elkins Avenue area overlooking 440 Parkway. It is one of several areas in Sylvan Heights experiencing new construction.

-- Lyle Graves | Nashville Ledger

The first one appeared in 2005 and construction has continued sporadically. Their assessed values range from $361,800 to $698,800, according to the Metro Assessor of Property’s office.

Home builder Troy Heithcock, who designed and is constructing Beauchamp’s house, says he discovered the enclave of modernist homes the same way most Nashvillians do, “just driving down 440.”

“I’m a big fan of contemporary architecture,” says Heithcock. “That’s one of the few areas of town where you could build a house like that and have it fit in.”

Beauchamp’s house features a flat roof covered by a rubber membrane. A rooftop deck was out of the question because of zoning restrictions governing height. The 3,000-square-foot house is 44 feet tall. It has two living rooms and lots of windows facing downtown.

The home’s size and all those windows attracted Beauchamp, who is moving from a 1,320-square-foot condo in the Gulch’s Terrazzo building.

“Big windows, great views of downtown,” he says.

The enclave of modern homes, located on 33rd Avenue North, Nevada Avenue and Trevor and accessible via Charlotte Pike, is part of the transformation of a down-on-its-luck stretch along Charlotte into one of Nashville’s most desirable urban neighborhoods.

The contemporary homes are close to Sylvan Heights, a rapidly redeveloping neighborhood that connects with trendy Sylvan Park. The Nations, a nearby neighborhood bordered by 46th and 51st Avenues, is experiencing a surge in new home construction.

Urban neighborhoods are attracting young professionals who, unlike their parents and older siblings, have no interest in moving to the suburbs, says home builder Michael Kenner, who has houses under construction in Sylvan Heights and the Nations.

“It’s a generational shift,” says Kenner. “I don’t want a yard to cut or to have to drive a long distance to the grocery or live 25 minutes from all my friends.”

Young home buyers are revitalizing urban neighborhoods that their elders never would have considered, says Chad Wohlers, a Realtor with Village Real Estate.

“The market is like me. I never would move to the suburbs. I can go to the Predators, Titans or the Symphony, and it’s a five-minute cab ride.”

With its ongoing renaissance, the area along Charlotte has attracted some of the city’s most popular entertainment and dining destinations including M.L. Rose Craft Beer & Burgers, Coco’s Italian Market, Headquarters coffeehouse and the Stone Fox music venue, says Kenner.

Beauchamp is confident that the area’s transformation will continue.

“I don’t mind taking a risk,” he says. “It’s definitely going in the right direction.”