n 2008 and 2009 we stumbled. A lot of other people did too, and we hope we learned our lesson. MarketStreet lost a lot of money in the financial crash that rocked the country. One memory in particular is burned into my memory. Steve tells the story best in his book:
“Just as we were beginning to see our vision begin to take shape, another major challenge faced us. Just a month before the economy collapsed we took delivery of The Icon, a 417-unit condo tower with retail on the street level. The Icon had clearly found interest in the market because, by the time the building was finished, the developers had every single unit in the new building under contract to sell.”
Steve’s son, Jay, picks up the story:
“We had no idea how many of those contracts would close, given how fast the economy was collapsing. Dirk Melton, who by then was working with us at MarketStreet Enterprises, began to run some spreadsheet numbers. He ﬁrst tested sensitivity in case ten percent didn’t close. We looked at the result and thought, ‘Well, okay, we can survive that.’ Then we decided to run the numbers at 25 percent contract defaults. That was clearly a much more serious problem; but, again, we thought we could survive. Then, ﬁnally, just to be sure, we ran another set of numbers that assumed 50 percent didn’t close. ‘Whoa,’ we said. ‘That’s a problem.’
How many of those original contracts never closed?
Three out of four. We had a big problem on our hands. And, furthermore, we were trying to get the remaining ones closed at a time when you could have a net worth of $1 million and take that to a bank to buy a $500,000 condo and the bank wouldn’t touch the deal.
We eventually resold every unit, but it took time—more time that many other developers or investors would have had due to more limited resources. Even MarketStreet Enterprises was stretched during those unprecedented times.”
But because of the capital the Turners brought to the table, we were able to weather the storm. Jay has done a marvelous job as the manager of the project. I give Jay full credit.
To take a company through a situation in which the world seems to be crumbling around you is a very difficult, difficult process. And I think Jay and I, together were able to take MarketStreet through a very difficult period of time, and we ended up coming out the other side when some other people didn't. We survived with our dignity intact, with every single bank that loaned us money wanting to continue to loan money to us–that’s pretty amazing. And then to have had the success that we’ve had. A huge part of it is just keeping going. Somebody may say “what is your greatest attribute?” Well I showed up everyday.
You know, from my personal standpoint, I'm very proud of the way the Gulch is going today. It's very much the way Steve and I wanted it to develop. It has truly become Nashville's project. Nashville has embraced The Gulch–it's a place where you’re guaranteed to see tourists in boots and hats walking side by side with a young mom pushing a stroller. And with the recent addition of prime office space to attract global corporations, you’ll see businessmen and women walking to work. Where else in Nashville can you get a commute like that.
The path from abandoned railroad yard to bustling neighborhood that kicked off the Nashville Renaissance, pushed Nashville into the top 10 cities in the whole country and only the fourth LEED Silver certified neighborhood in the entire world was a path with many twists and turns, but it was a risk worth taking.
So that's the story of the Gulch. It's a very important part of my life, but it's not the whole story.