Above the Clouds
High-rise living at 505 just right for many Nashvillians
Story by Hollie Deese
Photography by Sanford Myers
It wasn’t very long ago that the ability to live 40 floors up in Nashville was even an option. But in 2019 it’s here, it’s accessible and it’s attracting every kind of homeowner Middle Tennessee has to offer. Here we get to know three different people, from a young single who sold her car to a business exec looking to cut her commute, all living under the same, sky-high roof.
A dream fulfilled
When Candida, 28, was in high school she told her father she was going to a girlfriend’s house for a sleepover. Instead she hopped a Greyhound bus to Nashville and auditioned at Belmont University. Afterward, she called him from a small table at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Church Street to come clean.
“I sat there, and I told my dad, ‘I’m in Nashville. This is where I want to live, and this is where I want to be.’”
Today, she gets emotional as she looks out over that same corner from her condo more than 30 floors up. The day she closed on her condo in November was the one-year anniversary of her stepfather’s passing, and she credits him with part of her ability to live there.
“He’s the whole reason I even got this condo,” she says. “At the front of my door, it says ‘Go get ’em, tiger. I believe in you.’ The birthday before he passed, he wrote that to me. It has always been something he said: go get ’em, keep pushing.”
Candida, who goes by one name, sold her car and lived in an apartment in 505 for a year. She estimates she saved $500 a month from insurance, car payments and gas, and she took her savings and put it toward the purchase of the condo. She sees no downside to being able to buy a home within walking distance to restaurants, entertainment and culture.
“I love Makeready, that’s one of my favorite places. I love the Bobby. I just went to Skulls the other day for the burlesque show.”
She stocks her European-style kitchen with enough food for the day, buying fresh fruits and vegetables. And if she’s about to start cooking and realizes she needs an onion, she walks to the H.G. Hill nearby and walks back home.
“I don’t eat fast food anymore because I’m not driving,” she says. “I go to the market, I just walk everywhere. And if I want to do Green Hills, I’ll just take an Uber.”
Candida’s English bulldog and boxer love the amenities, too, including the pet parlor and dog park, a de facto social spot for dog owners in the middle of the night.
“That is a blessing in disguise, too. Say it’s three in the morning and they’re crying to go out — I can just take the elevator down to the seventh floor. I go out in my PJs and throw my coat on and it’s right there. You don’t have to leave or try and look for grass.”
Candida loves 505 so much she currently does leasing for them while she works to get her real estate license — hopefully to sell units at 505.
“This building means so much to me, and it’s not just a building. I work here, and it’s not just a job. It really is my life. I know it sounds cheesy. but it’s really cool how this building has been a monumental piece of me. I will continue to have this place, whether it is my permanent residence like it is now. Or I might make it an investment property when a guy sweeps me off my feet.”
Downsized footprint, upsized nightlife
Tony and Stacia Gonzalez were one of the first tenants to move into 505 last December, downsizing from a 6,000-square-foot home in Hendersonville to a two-bedroom rental on the east side of the building. Then, in September, they moved to their current space almost 40 floors up.
“Our son was going to college, and we really didn’t use anything but the kitchen, the bedroom and the living room,” she says. “And we like being downtown with all the activity — the restaurants, Bridgestone, the hockey games. We like to enjoy ourselves.”
Before they moved they still did all those things, but one of them always had to drive home, or sometimes they even got a hotel room. Now, they park their car on Friday nights, do all the things they love to do and don’t worry about driving again until Monday morning when Tony does a reverse commute and heads to his dealership, Nashville Toyota North.
“It used to take me an hour to get home,” he says. “Now it takes me 10 minutes.”
The smaller space — just under 1,000 square feet — is much easier and faster to clean than their previous home, and the move forced them to reevaluate what things they kept and how to best organize the rest. California Closets created a space that worked for both of their wardrobes, and they use the in-house maid service and on-site dry cleaners to take care of the laundry. Ashley Middlebrooks of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, is the lead designer at 505 and helped make the space amazing.
They also use the dog park and have made friends with other people in the building thanks to communal gatherings, growing their social circle into a big group of downtown dwellers. It’s the kind of vibe that’s not quite possible living in the suburbs, where you pull into your garage, go inside and never really see your neighbor.
And when not entertaining, they are having the best time getting to experience downtown Nashville together. And their son loves the change in lifestyle, too, when he comes to visit from college.
“We’re active, and we spend more time together,” Tony says of the lifestyle switch. “Before, even though we’d go home and sit outside for a minute, we would then watch TV and go to bed. Here, we go outside. We walk the streets together. We go eat together. We have a glass of wine together. You spend more time together as a couple.”
The Gonzalez condo
A convenient room with a view
Denver, Seattle, Detroit — as the chief operating officer at T-Mobile, Sue Nokes has had to live all over the country. But when a job with Asurion brought her to Middle Tennessee, she bought a 10,000-square-foot lakefront home in Fairvue Plantation in Gallatin, a golf course community with tons of room, a gorgeous view — and an ever-growing commute.
“Gallatin is a great place,” Nokes says. “I love the lake. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But the reality is I just spent a ton of time in traffic. There is a lot going on in Nashville, and I’m there a lot.”
So Nokes put a deposit down on a second home in Middle Tennessee — a high-rise condo at 505 with another gorgeous view. She closed around Labor Day and spent her first weekend there in late October. Now she can enjoy all that Nashville has to offer, from restaurants to sporting events and concerts, without worrying about traffic.
“You can eat out breakfast, lunch and dinner,” she says. “You’re within walking distance of some shopping, and even the grocery store is a block away if you really needed something. I just love it.”
Joni Szell helped Nokes with the design of her lakefront home and her condo, choosing more modern pieces for the condo, which is also home to some of her dozen Warhols and extensive music memorabilia collection like the lyrics to “Imagine” written and signed by John Lennon.
“I have to like it,” Nokes says of how she buys art. “I do like Warhols. I have some Dali, I have some Chagall. I have almost every Beatles album signed by all four Beatles.”
Of course there are challenges with designing a condo as opposed to a sprawling home, Szell says, but the level of appointments Nokes chose is similar for both. Szell chose an eclectic combination of patterns for the dining room, which Nokes was — at first — very much against. But she trusted Szell, and now she loves the end result.
If a Nashville corner condo with killer views over the AT&T building had been available in 2010, when Nokes bought her Sumner County home, she might have opted for downtown living right off the bat. But now she is happy to have the best of both, enjoying her hot tub under the stars in Gallatin and the bustling activity of downtown.
“It’s a totally different style of living,” she says. “You go out, you walk around, you look at very interesting shops and art, and it’s all in within reach. And the views are tough to beat.”
All the Amenities
Sure it’s within walking distance to entertainment, food, retail and sports. But there is really no need to leave the building at all. With a gorgeous common space on the 7th floor, stunning pool, tennis courts, gym, dog park and entertaining spaces are all available for residents to use.