Jim Crossman wheels and deals in local real estate sector

Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 9:05pm

Jim Crossman may not be well known to the average Nashvillian, but many have spent time in one of his properties scattered throughout Davidson County.

A veteran local real estate pro possessed of a quirky charm and a passion for the city, Crossman is the owner of Jim Crossman Realty. 

Two of Crossman’s buildings — unquestionably his most recognized and architecturally noteworthy — garnered headlines during the past six months. One is home to Elliston Place Soda Shop and Rock Block Guitars, while the other features the Vanderbilt coaches mural.  

“They are very important because I think they are my identity,” Crossman said of the vintage brick structures.

Earlier this year, Crossman asked for more rent from the soda shop owners. When they legitimately proved a rent hike would mean no more milkshakes and burgers, Crossman respectfully understood. 

“I decided that having the soda shop was more important than having additional rent money,” he said. “They’ve been a good tenant.”

That’s Jim Crossman. He’s not your average landlord — or person. First, the man has worked in the commercial real estate business for 47 years — all in Nashville. Second, Jim Crossman Realty is a small operation (Crossman employs only two people and “farms out” much of the work) that nonetheless owns about 500,000 square feet of warehouse space and multiple shopping centers with 150 retail tenants. Last, Crossman bears a resemblance to actor William H. Macy and, like Ross Perot, offers a distinctive speaking voice. Unfailingly polite and gracious, Crossman is the type of gentleman who could bamboozle you in a real estate deal and leave you feeling positive about it.

Not that Crossman is a chiseler.  If anything, he is militantly ethical. And always looking for a transaction. 

When asked if he is aware of the perception that he is constantly wheeling and dealing, Crossman responded with a chuckle,  “absolutely.” 

The 69-year-old has never considered a new career or retiring.

“In the bad times, property is cheap and there is the opportunity to buy,” he said. “That makes it worthwhile to keep going.”