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Highlights from CRE615’s 2024 Changemakers Summit

Marisa Winsky
February 1, 2024 5 mins

Why Nashville is a Solid Soundboard for CRE Business in 2024

Editor’s Note: Changemakers Summit 2024 is an annual event hosted by Nashville’s CRE615 organization, a networking and educational platform for commercial real estate professionals. The event attracts 200-300 attendees including a diverse industry mix from brokerage, lending, asset management, commercial insurance, real estate law, development, construction, property management and architectural/engineering firms.

Hailed as the “Music City,” Nashville has a vibrant history in the music scene and is home to some of the country’s top venues and attractions like the Ryman Auditorium, Grand Ole Opry House and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. But Nashville is more than just bright lights on Broadway – for the past three years it has been ranked as the top market for overall real estate prospects in the annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate® 2024 report jointly sponsored by the Urban Land Institute with PwC.

Changemaker’s Summit Highlights

As a sponsor for CRE615 in 2024, the LightBox team attended the Changemakers Summit on January 25th at The Factory in Franklin, just 20 miles south of Nashville. The event featured keynote speaker, Sherry Deutschmann, CEO and founder of Braintrust, a company dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses. It also included two panels of speakers discussing Nashville’s growth trajectory and the business culture of Southern hospitality. Cushman & Wakefield and Newmark, two of LightBox’s key customers, both had industry experts on the panels.

Ms. Deutschmann delivered her keynote address in TED- Talk style on the topic of “The Power of Empathetic Leadership.”  She shared her upbringing, struggles and business ventures with the audience in a very relatable way. For me personally, I was immediately struck by her humble beginnings in Banner Elk, a very small and rural town in the northwest mountains of North Carolina. With a population shy of 1,000 people, an elevation of 3,895 feet, Banner Elk is situated between two ski resorts, Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain. It’s likely that most of the attendees were not familiar with this small town, but I had recently taken the scenic drive home to Virginia this year and I had driven right through the heart of it on Highway 194. Having seen where she came from gave me a deeper perspective and the saying “big things often have small beginnings” came immediately to mind. As an entrepreneur, author and honoree of Obama’s “Champion of Change” in 2016, Ms. Deutschmann spoke to the importance of empathy within a firm’s culture and how successful leaders can be empathetic in their roles and positions of power.

Next was a discussion on Nashville’s growth trajectory, featuring a panel of speakers from Bell Construction, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mortensen and the Nashville Post. The panelists voiced many of Nashville’s market advantages, as well as its growing pains. Permitting and infrastructure seems to be challenges for the metropolis. It was made clear that Nashville is not looking to be a New York or Chicago, but that its growth surge is due in part to its population, migration rate, and emerging business hubs.  One topic of interest was the discussion of the new Nissan Stadium, which is slated to open in 2027. The new enclosed stadium would host Tennessee Titan games and hope to attract big events like the Super Bowl.

Pictured top left: Marisa Winsky and Joe Costanzo with LightBox; bottom left: Sherry Deutschmann; bottom right: Alexa Barnett, owner of CRE615 (Moderator), Panelists: Eric Tomchik at Newmark, Brontë Prins with Southern Land Company, Nadian Zak with Zak Consulting Group and Dave Sansom at Cushman & Wakefield.

The next panel spotlighted the southern saying “Bless Your Heart” and how Southern hospitality and colloquialisms like “Y’all” fit into the business climate within the Nashville city limits and beyond. A diverse panel shared stories of how they came to adapt to the culture of Nashville hailing from places like New York, the Midwest and Australia. Brontë Prins, Chief Legal Officer at Southern Land Company, reflected on how Nashville is a big-small town where sellers know lenders and lenders know owners etc. She drove in the relationship aspect of business and that how you do business is just as important as winning business. As a former New York attorney, she shared how a partner reiterated, “That’s not how we do business in Nashville” after they got off a heated call one time.  Dave Sanson, Managing Principal for Cushman & Wakefield’s Nashville office continued to drive home the message that real estate is not about saving lives and offered a piece of advice that “today’s crisis is just tomorrow’s Tuesday” citing the importance of taking time out for yourself, your family etc.

Nashville by the Numbers

As part of our sponsorship of the event, LightBox profiled the city of Nashville using insights from its CRE data and technology platforms, as well as other commercial real estate rankings.

By the numbers, it is not surprising that Nashville has claimed the number one spot with its solid positioning across the retail, hotel, industrial and multifamily sectors. LightBox also tracks listing volumes through the LightBox RCM® platform and Nashville is a confirmed top 25 MSA based on the number of assets brought to market between 2022-2023. With nearly 25% of those listings being for developable and raw land, it is no wonder that Nashville continues to be developed and grow!

During the same period nearly 20,000 NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) were signed by investors looking to acquire their own properties within the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin MSA, LightBox expects Nashville to continue its growth momentum.

Given that Nashville has more investment properties sold and on the market, than other metros across the country, it is expected that Nashville will continue to be a promising investment option in the southeast.

To get a quick overview and summary of Nashville, its noteworthy rankings, and commercial real estate data – download the LightBox Nashville Location Data Sheet.

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