Large-scale mixed-use project eyed for East Bank

TravelCenters of America on North First Street

A high-profile Massachusetts real estate development and investment company is planning a large-scale mixed-use development of the East Bank near Nissan Stadium, the latest out-of-town entity seeking to undertake such a project in Nashville.

The RMR Group, which had roughly $32 billion of total assets under management as of mid-year, is proposing the redevelopment of 111 N. First St., a 16.72-acre site located near the Cumberland River and Nissan.

Specifically, and according to a release, The RMR Group is seeking approval to construct about 3 million square feet of office, retail, residential and hospitality buildings centered around an internal greenway and connecting to the East Bank Greenway and the city’s existing downtown urban fabric. RMR is considering specialty uses such as breweries/distilleries.

Of note, RMR has undertaken primarily hotel, office, senior living, medical office and industrial investment and development. The company has minimal residential real estate in its portfolio. Jesse Abair, RMR's senior director of development, told the Post Wednesday the proposed development will be “a people-centric, live-work-play development would provide a critical link between downtown and East Nashville.”

Abair said some of the development's buildings could rise up to 30 stories tall. The site does not sit within the Metro Planning Department’s downtown code and, as such, could offer some flexibility in terms of building uses. National truck stops operator TravelCenters of America, to which RMR provides management services, operates from the site (pictured).

Abair said no start date on full-scale construction has been finalized but suggested it likely would not be in 2021.

RMR, for which client companies own about 20 other properties in the greater Nashville area, will seek a specific plan rezoning, with no Metro Planning Commission meeting yet scheduled.

“Enhancing connectivity for the city’s transportation and greenway networks is one of the primary objectives of this project,” said Abair, adding that RMR expects to have no development partner in the effort. “The redevelopment [of the site] can be a catalyst for the emergence of the East Bank into a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood, and we look forward to continuing our work with the city to shape this project for the benefit of Nashville’s residents, businesses and visitors alike.”

The 16-acre site is bordered by a CSX railway to the north, James Robertson Parkway to the south, Interstate 24 to the east and North First Street to the west. 

RMR has enlisted a local team of Hastings Architecture Associates, attorney Shawn Henry of Tune Entrekin & White, civil engineering firm Barge Cauthen and traffic engineering and analysis company KCI.

Truckstop Corp. of America purchased the property in mid-1978 for about $109,500, according to Metro records. The chain merged with National Auto/Truckstops in 1997, resulting in the moniker TravelCenters of America Inc. (sometimes simply called TA). Service Properties Trust now owns the site and leases it to TA.

Founded in 1986, RMR runs a portfolio of more than 2,100 properties and employs about 600 real estate professionals in more than 30 offices throughout the United States. The various companies managed by and affiliated with the company collectively had nearly 45,000 employees.

Other companies under the RMR umbrella include Five Star Senior Living, which operates more than 260 senior living communities, and Sonesta International Hotels, which manages or franchises 80 hotels and cruise ships in seven countries.