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The overlooked fate of Bridgestone's current Nashville hq

November 26, 2014

Adam Sichko
Senior Reporter- Nashville Business Journal


Davidson County property assessor

The 282,000-square-foot building at 535 Marriott Drive in Nashville currently houses the U.S. headquarters for Bridgestone. The tire company will move by mid-2017 to a 514,000-square-foot office tower downtown.

All the attention on Bridgestone's move to downtown Nashville has obscured from view a potential benefit for the market located seven miles away.

That would be the 12-story office building at 535 Marriott Drive — currently Bridgestone's home base, near Nashville International Airport.

Bridgestone's 30-story tower in SoBro is scheduled to open in mid-2017. That means Bridgestone will vacate all 282,000 square feet at its current headquarters, where it employs 1,100 people today.

Having that building hit the market presents a chance for economic developers, chamber officials and real estate brokers to recruit another sizable employer. So often, the economic development game centers on where a big tenant would land — and right now, hefty chunks of top-grade office space in Nashville are nearly impossible to come by.

The broker in charge of leasing 535 Marriott Drive tells me that a few publicly traded companies have made preliminary inquiries about the space.

"That is a gem we can use to attract the next Bridgestone, the next CHS, the next LifePoint. It's hard to relocate a significant new meaningful company if the only new office space for them would have to be a new building," said Matt Wiltshire, who is Mayor Karl Dean's top economic development official.

Whit McCrary is a senior managing director at the brokerage firm Cassidy Turley. McCrary is in charge of finding a successor, or successors, to fill the 13-year-old Bridgestone space. He's doing that on behalf of the building's owner, the Gaedeke Group, a German family whose U.S. operation is based in Dallas.

"As far as access to employees, it gets an A-plus. The beauty of this location is that, just like downtown, you can attract labor from all four corners of the market," McCrary said. "If you're in Cool Springs, you're cutting off the top half of the city for your labor."

Cassidy Turley tracks statistics on nine parts of the Nashville metro area, which stretches about 20 miles south to Cool Springs. Bridgestone's current building falls in the Airport North slice of the market. As of the third quarter, Airport North had more than 400,000 square feet of vacant office space available for lease — equal to 9.5 percent of all the office space in that part of town.

That percentage is the fourth-highest of the nine subdivisions. And so much of Nashville's newfound "It City" cache stems from the trendy upscale dining, shopping, living and entertainment options in the urban core, not out east by the airport.

That popularity is driving up rents, whether you're leasing an office or an apartment.

"The attractive part is you're just 15 minutes from downtown and right by the airport. The good news is, this is an affordable solution to relocate or expand in Nashville, because rents will be well below the cost of new construction," McCrary said. "Bridgestone continues to put money into the space, so it's very presentable and current."

Most of the building's 12 floors cover 25,000 square feet each, a size McCrary contends is the most efficient for the Nashville market.

"Even with Nashville as hot as it is and as attractive as it is, one of the biggest challenges we face is the lack of available large blocks of quality office space," McCrary added. "This is an opportunity for the city — one that we need."

Adam covers commercial real estate and manufacturing.

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