West End Flats offer much needed affordability in tidy, safe package

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 2:42am

Consider the numbers.

The segment of West End Park on the west side of 31st Avenue has four multi-unit residential buildings — Artesia, Acropolis, Longview and The Maxwell — under construction.

Impressive.

Since 2000, the western half of the once-historic WEP has seen the opening of approximately 13 buildings each with six residences or more.

Jaywalk across 31st Avenue —watch those speeding motorists flying around the curve at Hedrick Place — and the eastern portion of WEP reveals five more post-2000-built condo buildings, with West End Lofts I and II and The West End creating a mini-skyline of sorts.

Make no mistake: There’s been as much concrete and brick consumed in West End Park as there’s been fat and cholesterol at the nearby Outback Steakhouse.

Almost amazingly, and despite the semi-slumped local housing market, most of these units have been filled. But there is a point at which no matter how desirable this district may be, the pool of potential buyers may dwindle.

John Hays knows this.

The veteran developer plans to break ground by late May on West End Flats, a neo-traditional condo building that will differentiate itself from its WEP brethren in one key component: price.

These residences will be affordable. Really affordable. As in $186,000 per pop.

Hays has done his homework, determining the neighborhood currently offers only six unsold condos, all at Centennial Row, for less than $225,000. New WEP condo buildings are dominated by two- and three-bedroom homes, and upscale finishes are ubiquitous. Like old-school broadcaster Brit Hume attempting to chat up the ladies at a Playboy Mansion bash, regular folks wanting to buy in WEP have minimal hope.

So Hays struck with West End Flats, which will front the Long Boulevard/Burns Avenue T-intersection. Determined to contain costs, Hays “decided to focus on [the] one-bedroom product.”

It’s a smart move, Mr. Hays.

Equally calculating, Hays’ Graymont Group will build the units with basic finishes so that buyers can upgrade as they choose. Or not.

Inexpensive units aside, West End Flats will not be shoddily designed or constructed.

Local architect Quirk Designs is cladding the three-story building in crisp white brick, with solid detailing. Two understated yet symmetrical entrances, a dignified parapet and 12 unassuming balconies — one for each unit — will define the façade, which takes cues from Greek Revival architectural themes.

Detractors will, no doubt, lament that West End Flats’ exterior design is safe and unadventurous. No arguments there. Recent WEP development design is painfully conservative, so an edgier look for West End Flats would have been welcomed. Quirk is capable — evidenced by the firm giving the aforementioned Artesia a somewhat unusual feel with arches, some circular windows and very dark brick.

Clearly, West End Flats is not about edgy design, but rather about affordable living.

On that note, Hays will deliver.

30North Update

Hays says Graymont Group’s 30North office building, to rise in the eastern segment of WEP, has reached pre-sales goals and will break ground in four to five weeks.

And one more WEP item

Kudos to The West End condo tower development team for opting for a very sharp ground-level sign. A handsome brick base nicely frames the gray-metal cursive version of “The West End.” Quality work.

William Williams writes about Nashville’s manmade environment. Contact him at bill37206@yahoo.com

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By: imdyinhere on 12/31/69 at 6:00

"Really affordable. As in $186,000 per pop."Affordable for whom? That's greater than four times what the average person makes per year.

By: Funditto on 12/31/69 at 6:00

$186,600 is cheap when you consider that houses just a few blocks away are millions. Location, location, location. If cheap is needed, there is always the 'burbs.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

They're affordable with a nice interest-only loan. LOL

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 6:00

'Bland' would be a good description. That is true of many of the condos in that area.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 6:00

One Bedroom Condos. This surely is bad news for people who are looking in that area for units in the 600,000 to 800,000 dollar market, At 186,000 dollars this will degrade the entire area.

By: Vandy1975 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I don't see the appeal, but some people enjoy living like rats in an apartment/dormitory arrangement. The remarkable thing is that someone figured out how to sell units of what would otherwise be rentals, and on top of that charge monthly fees that come close to what would otherwise be spent on rent.

By: Funditto on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Doctors. Doctor's kids who go to Vandy. Those pesky elitists. Music people. You wouldn't believe what some will pay to be close to West End.Have you seen Kid Rock's million-dollar crip at West End Close?

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Kid Rock should have learned by now you can't buy class. I think he was born with a silver spoon and never lacked money, but he comes off like a bad boy version of Jethro Bodine. I thought he lived in the new faux Jacksonian.Funditto, I think you hit it on the head. Rich kids and lovenests or chill pads for their parents. That is what one bedroom condos often end up being in that area of the market.