Signature Tower Luxury Condo Update

Signature Tower

Giarratana Development’s Signature Tower is not the latest casualty of the subprime financial market debacle, but for the first time I have to admit that the March 31st deadline looms heavy on my conscious. The Signature Tower is developer Tony Giarratana’s dream building, a 70 story luxury Tower that only the boldest developer in the Southeast would even attempt to tackle in a mid-major market like Nashville and he’s down to his last 4 weeks. The casual reader might assume that buyers and investors have fled the real estate market to seek higher ground, but that is not the case in booming Nashville, TN. Tony has been able to presale just about 50% of his building (the most expensive half), which would have been enough last year, but financial institutions’ concerns over the looming commercial market fallout have driven construction loans through the roof. As a result, construction financing has become a major hurdle to leap in the high-rise world.

The 70 story Signature Tower would be the tallest building in the United States outside of New York and Chicago and would offer 400 luxury residences with an exclusive address. The building’s amenities, interior finishes, and resident services are absolutely unparalleled in Tennessee, let alone in the southeastern US. Think of it this way: imagine living on Park Avenue in New York City with panoramic views of Central Park…now simply imagine that building being twice as tall and looking down on over 1.5 million residents in tourist-rich Nashville. The building will also contain a five star hotel operated by the Kempton Hotel Group that will occupy the fist 17 floors of the building. Strangely enough, it is just this hotel group that can save the Signature Tower…

Nashville has the distinct privilege of having one of the lowest hotel vacancy rates in the United States and all of the large hotel chains have noticed. Within the last 12 months, no less than 42 new hotel permits have been pulled in Middle Tennessee. These hotel brands include: Intercontinental, W Hotels, Palamar, Westin, and a host of other business class brands like Hilton and Marriot. With such a low vacancy rate and Giarratana’s need for a fuller building, it appears that the Kempton Hotel Group and Tony are trying to hash out a plan that would be mutually beneficial. Rumors are swirling and speculation is rampant, but I have to believe that if the Hotel Palamar would agree to occupy another 5-7 floors, the Signature Tower would breeze through the new, tougher construction loan guidelines.

In addition to the hotel rumors, other stranger rumors have also come to light. At one point many people thought that the FAA was going to nix the project entirely due to commercial flight path concerns over downtown Nashville. It has since been discovered that the FAA only acts as a advisory council to the city of Nashville and cannot mandate the glass ceiling over Nashville’s central business district. The fact remains, that the city of Nashville has fully approved the construction plan for the Signature Tower and indeed, a building permit has already been issued.

It is my opinion that the construction of the Signature Tower will do nothing short of give Nashville a needed cardiac shock that will usher in the most profitable period of downtown development in the history of the city. Retail, office, commercial, and residential construction will find a new niche by 2010 and the new convention center will grow Nashville to Atlanta’s size by 2030 (whether you like it or not).

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