For the people.” Since the beginning we wanted The Gulch to be about doing our part to improve Nashville for our fellow Nashvillians. However, our unique concept that ultimately made The Gulch the success it became proved to be elusive. Looking back I see that our vision started out quite blurry and gradually came into focus as we continued to put one foot in front of the other.
Other people had tried to develop the area, but they'd always tried to develop it with one big idea. In other words, put in a baseball park, put in a shopping center. And we were even drawn into that. We talked to the people about putting a symphony hall there. We spent many months negotiating back and forth to get major department stores there. And finally, after all that effort, we realized we needed to stop following the crowd and expand our vision for the future.
Our eureka moment happened when we discovered our north star–success would be creating “Nashville’s project.” And that's how we built the Gulch. We tried to follow what we thought Nashville should have by listening to the people of Nashville. I can’t honestly say that Steve and I had the vision to see what Nashville would become. If we had that much vision, we would have bought every building in downtown Nashville! But we did have a very strong vision to tie the central business district to Music Row and to the midtown area along West End Avenue.
Where we differed from what other smart people had tried to do in The Gulch was to take a holistic approach. We weren’t interested in building a single building. We wanted to build a neighborhood, a community. And when building a community, you have to look at it from a lot of standpoints - transportation, infrastructure, the dynamics.
The dynamics of the Gulch are incredible, because on one side it was bounded by the railroad tracks, on the other side it was bounded by the interstate. So it naturally encouraged a self-contained community. We envisioned streets where pedestrians walk past pocket parks, not empty lots, and where the streets are lined with bustling storefronts, not vast walls of unbroken concrete.
Our mission was to keep the soul of Nashville alive. We saw out-of-state developers trying to bring chain stores into the area to maximize their profits and we knew Nashville deserved better. If it was to be, it was up to us.