42nd and Charlotte is an 11,000 s.f. adaptive reuse project that transformed an industrial warehouse into a neighborhood asset of retail and restaurants.
Charlotte Pike was once home to convenient commercial services serving Nashville’s early 20th Century neighborhoods on the outskirts of downtown. In 1929, Nashville’s Loftis family constructed at 42nd Avenue the “Loftis Pie Wagon”, a traditional diner serving the nearby Loftis Family Steel Mill and bordering neighborhoods. During World War II, Charlotte Pike began to transform into a strip of industrial uses including nearby munitions and parachute plants. Throughout the last half of the Century small retail and restaurant buildings were replaced with large warehouses and manufacturing facilities.
Despite the incremental industrialization and erosion of Charlotte Pike, the diner continued to serve the area and became a favorite spot for songwriters and musicians. It was featured in the September issue of Rolling Stone in 1989, with “Miss Nina” Loftis Roland and Country Music Stars George Jones and Randy Travis pictured at the counter. The restaurant also was the scene for Don Williams’ 1984 album cover titled “Cafe Carolina.” In 1990 the land was purchased from the Loftis family, and Interstate Bakeries Corporation built the site’s most current structure, a warehouse and distribution center for Hostess and Wonder Bread products. By then, industry and manufacturing had taken over Charlotte Pike, once a bustling neighborhood asset.
In 2012, as Nashville’s urban revitalization was creeping toward Charlotte Pike, Metro Public Works completed the 28th Avenue Connector, a new bridge connecting the West End/ hospital district with North Nashville’s TSU/Fisk University and Nashville Meharry General Hospital, igniting renewed interest in Charlotte Pike. In 2013 the Hostess warehouse at 42nd and Charlotte was purchased by Commercial Realty Services (CRS), a Nashville retail development company. Through a series of neighborhood and stakeholder meetings, Smith Gee Studio assisted CRS with rezoning the property from Industrial to Mixed Use without opposition.
As residential development of surrounding Sylvan Park and Sylvan Heights neighborhoods rapidly expanded, a lack of walkable retail existed along the Charlotte Pike corridor. The site responds to that need by including a patio area for restaurant patrons, a pedestrian friendly streetscape turning the corner toward the neighborhood and above the bustling Pike, an elevated sidewalk and outdoor dining area activating this neighborhood entry. The development supports the West Nashville Community Plan by providing neighborhood services and retail plus the adaptive reuse of existing structures, which eliminated non-contributing uses, revitalized the Charlotte Pike corridor and created walkable neighborhoods.
As a nod to the Loftis family and to give a bit of Charlotte Pike back to the neighborhood, the warehouse has been adapted into a community amenity of food, beverage and neighborhood services. One hundred percent of the space was leased prior to project completion, serving as a bellwether for retail space demand in the area stemming from both local and national tenants. The 7,317-square-foot warehouse has been expanded to 11,680 gross square feet, housing two neighborhood restaurants, a yoga studio, and a styling salon. The project has been a catalyst in the revitalization of the Charlotte Pike corridor, a once underutilized industrial district now returning full circle as a neighborhood asset of commercial services.