ICON adding 4 floors; 'skyscraperists' upbeat

Wednesday, December 14, 2005 at 1:00am

Here's to height.

Proposed Gulch tower ICON is now set to be constructed with 21 floors, up from the originally planned 17 stories.

Members of Nashville's close-knit, male-dominated and socially disenfranchised "skyscraper nerd community," this writer included, are gleeful.

At about 250 feet (ICON developer Nashville Urban Venture/Bristol Development Group has yet to release the exact height figure), the tower will be the second tallest outside the central business district, trailing only Midtown's 18-story Palmer Plaza. The latter rises about 269 feet, according to real estate data base emporis.com.

For those who struggle to conceptualize building heights (i.e., about 99.9 percent of the U.S. population), ICON will stand a bit less than two-thirds the height of the 409-foot-tall downtown landmark L&C Tower. And it will rise more than two and a half times the height of Mercury View Lofts, currently the Gulch's tallest structure.

No doubt, ICON will loom large.

Glen Bartosh, Bristol's point man for the development, said market demand - the building will now contain 420 residential units instead of 400 - drove the need for the additional four floors.

"We view ICON as setting the tone for the rest of the development in the Gulch," Bartosh says.

And a sweet tone, indeed.

Ivy Lodge given renewed life

One of Nashville's few remaining Tudor-style vintage apartment buildings has been given a fine facelift.

The Ivy Lodge, which discretely fronts Portland Avenue near Belmont University, now shines with new windows and walkways, a repainted exterior, an updated hallway and, for some units, new heating/cooling units.

Long neglected, the eight-unit Lady Ivy was in jeopardy of deteriorating to the point of unsightliness and non-livability.

However, B&K Investments LLC recognized both potential cash flow and the importance of historic preservation, purchasing the residential building for $550,000 last April and pumping an undisclosed amount of cash into it during a five-month renovation process.

B&K's Ben Burns says Nashville's remaining pre-World War II-built apartment houses (there are probably no more than 40 left, with 31st Avenue's Maberta being the most recently razed) are in high demand due to their charm and urban locales.

"It's important that we try to do what we can to maintain the few we have left," Burns says.

And doubly important that the city not lose its handful of those vintage gems with Tudor touches - highlighted by the lovely Clair on Belmont Boulevard - still standing.

A commendation to B&K for sparing this treasured member of our community's built fabric.

William Williams writes about Nashville's man-made environment. He can be contacted at wwilliams@nashvillecitypaper.com.

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