Building on a Decade of Success in Music City

March 10, 2020

Building on a Decade of Success in Music City

Nashville Yards – a 17-acre mixed-use project under development by Southwest Value Partners – is essentially a mini-city. Featuring office, retail, residential, and entertainment space, once complete, this $1 billion site will be the largest private development in Nashville’s history.

The Next Generation of Urban Development

Even in terms of mega-projects, Nashville Yards is a behemoth. When complete, the site will change the landscape of downtown Nashville. Given the project’s scale, Nashville Yards is being realized through phased construction with Clark/Bell building multiple phases and providing project development services for the remaining stages. The first phase of construction includes a 24-story, 784,000-square-foot Grand Hyatt hotel. Parcel 4, the second phase under construction, includes a 24-story office tower and associated parking garage.

High-rise buildings are not pervasive in Nashville. With that in mind, the Clark/Bell team introduced a structural system for the office tower not widely used in buildings throughout the city.

“We’re building the office tower with a steel frame and concrete core; something you see more in markets like Chicago and San Francisco,” said Tim Lamson, a vice president at Clark who oversees the company’s Nashville operations. “Nashville is historically a concrete town, but we were confident that we would build more efficiently with this option and sidestep the very busy concrete market.”

What's Past is Prologue

Clark’s previous Nashville projects, Music City Center and the 235,000-square-foot Engineering and Science Building at Vanderbilt University, were both delivered on time. These mega-projects required meticulous planning and attention to detail, and were ultimately recognized with several regional and national building awards.

At Nashville Yards, the team is executing the project with the same commitment to excellence. Adhering to the project schedule has been one critical area of focus. In November 2019, the team topped out the 591-room Grand Hyatt on time, and they remain on schedule for a fall 2020 opening. The team is also on track to top out the Nashville Yards Parcel 4 office tower in spring 2020. The Parcel 4 office tower will include 550,000 square feet of office space, with 690,000 square feet of parking. To accommodate a fast track schedule, the project team collaborated closely with the design team and owner to start construction less than three months after design commenced – a full eight months before the design was completed. The team is on track to deliver the building 28 months after design started.

As Clark/Bell started building at Nashville Yards, the team had to quickly work around limited site access – a challenge that can threaten any project schedule. But the Nashville team is well-versed in overcoming this level of disruption. When building Vanderbilt University’s Engineering and Science Building – completed in 2017 – the project team knew that the building’s location in the center of campus would present access challenges. With a limited staging area, the team engaged in intensive planning to manage just-in-time deliveries of materials throughout construction, along with the proper placement of the project’s crane, drop-off zones, and truck access. 

At Nashville Yards, active CSX train tracks run along the entire west side of the development, drastically limiting site access. At the office tower, the tracks sit less than 20 feet from the edge of construction. As a workaround, the team built two new elevated roads, a rarity on commercial projects due to their tendency to present logistical challenges. However, in this instance, the elevated roads created opportunity for additional site access and staging.

“Any time you’re in the right-of-way of train tracks, there are restrictions and rules regarding what you can do and how you can do it,” said Lamson. “That’s one of the reasons why we prioritized building the site’s elevated roads early. It provides an extra layer of staging and site access to improve the efficiency of construction on the site.”

A Sustainable Future in Nashville

Looking to the future, a wealth of possibility lies before the Clark team in Nashville. As work continues at Nashville Yards and construction activity as a whole in the city continues to grow, Clark is poised to support a wide range of projects in the region. With a team of 32 now operating in Nashville, Clark has assembled a veritable “who’s who” of industry experts. The team holds a broad wealth of knowledge across a variety of sectors, including education, hospitality, office, civil/infrastructure, and healthcare.

Lamson, a Clark homegrown talent, has spent the last 15 years working on complex, high-profile projects throughout the eastern half of the United States, including the McCormick Place Marriot Marquis, CityCenter DC, and the University of Connecticut Ambulatory Care Center. Lamson’s varied portfolio made him the perfect candidate to lead construction at Nashville Yards and further solidify Clark’s long-term building presence in Nashville.

The project team currently in place at Nashville Yards includes many who played crucial roles on Clark’s previous Nashville projects. Bruce Crane, a senior superintendent, worked on Music City Center; Chris Cronin, a construction executive, completed the Vanderbilt project. With successful Nashville projects under their belts, both Crane and Cronin bring a sizeable amount of regional knowledge to the Nashville Yards project.

Tom Bowles, a senior superintendent who came to Nashville after delivering the McCormick Place Marriot Marquis in Chicago hospitality projects to lead construction efforts at the Grand Hyatt. Mike Rittenour, a 17-year Clark team member, is applying his extensive office building experience as lead superintendent on the Parcel 4 office tower.

For Zach Zelms, joining the Clark team in Nashville two years ago was an easy choice to make. Now, Zelms is the project executive leading work on the Parcel 4 office tower – and couldn’t be more pleased with his decision. “The Nashville Yards project was something I really wanted to be a part of,” said Zelms. “Nashville has been a great place to work, and the team Clark has assembled here is world-class.”

“The team here loves being in Nashville,” said Lamson. “There’s incredible growth happening here, both for Clark and the city, and being a part of that growth has been a tremendous source of pride for the team.”

With a deep understanding of the Nashville market, the Clark team is utilizing its past successes to drive engagement with clients looking to capitalize on the region’s substantial economic growth and construction boom.

“Clark has a wonderful history here that we are extremely proud of,” said Lamson. “The last decade has just been the beginning. We have a bright future ahead of us in Nashville."