Placemaking

Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 10:05pm

As The Gulch, Rolling Mill Hill, Rutledge Hill and SoBro all unfold in and around downtown with a dose of momentum and attendant media attention, a mini-district of sorts is quietly evolving as work hums along on the nearby Music City Center site.

What we’ll call the Cummins Station District — once known as the Vauxhall Garden District, but no name seems to stick — is now luring creative businesses staffed by young urbanites who are working within buildings other than the actual Cummins Station.

The area is bordered by Demonbreun Street to the north, 10th Avenue to the west, Eighth Avenue to the east and Palmer Place to the south. With a pedestrian bridge, it could connect The Gulch to SoBro while simultaneously establishing a distinct neighborhood identity.

Sonny Clark sees the potential value of any property located within a conventioneer’s stroll of the half-billion-dollar-plus convention center. In April 2008, he bought the building at 820 Palmer Place (formerly home to gentleman’s club Show Time) for $700,000, rehabbed it and relocated his Advanced Network Solutions from the Central Business District.

“They said, ‘You’re kind of getting out of the middle of everything,’ ” Clark said. “But this area will have its own vibe and will get better as time passes.”

In addition to Clark’s move, the mini-district has seen the arrival of its first true cafe (Fiddlecakes), the rehabbing and construction of the future home of Genuine Human Productions (Channel 4 anchor Demetria Kalodimos’ film and video production company), a $2 million renovation of the historic Brandau Craig Dickerson Building, and the tasteful construction of an environmentally sensitive $300,000 surface parking lot.

Arnie Malham, owner of Malham Leverage Group, handled both the BCD Building rehab and the parking lot.

“We added a lot of windows, replaced the roof and installed an elevator,” Malham said. “It’s important to the district to not have buildings crumble.”

Kalodimos, who gets her hair styled at KDK in Cummins Station, is bullish on the district. “It’s sort of a ‘If you build it they will come.’ ” 

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