C1TYblox will feature food, fitness and event spaces

Published August 1, 2014 in the Nashville Post by William Williams

Cambridge Holdings Inc. announced today its OneC1TY health care and technology-focused mixed-use project under construction on Nashville’s west side will feature retail spaces made of repurposed shipping containers — the first of its kind in the city.

To be called C1TYblox, the collection of 21 repurposed shipping containers will be assembled and arranged to create a mini retail district spotlighting food, fitness and event spaces, according to Ryan Doyle, general manager for One City (stylized as oneC1TY). To date, Nashville’s retail space offered via retrofitted shipping containers has been more limited in scope: for example, the restaurant space in The 404 Hotel and Kitchen in The Gulch.

Doyle said he is hopeful the Metro Codes Administration Department will issue a permit early next week to allow for the construction of the one-acre food, fitness and event village on oneC1TY Nashville’s 19-acre campus, to be located at Charlotte Avenue and the 28th/31st Avenue Connector. The Carter Group will serve as general contractor, with an end-of-year completion date targeted. C1TYblox is expected to be operational up until the final phase of the multi-building oneC1TY master plan is completed within the next few years, Doyle said.

“C1TYblox will serve an important role as an accelerator and business incubator while we continue to develop the permanent oneC1TY community around it,” Doyle said. “It will allow us to bring in companies and services that share our mindful living philosophy, and it will play a key role in providing amenities to oneC1TY tenants, residents, visitors and the surrounding neighborhoods.”

Avo, a natural foods-oriented eatery that will offer a plant-based menu, is the first announced tenant for C1TYblox (read more here).

C1TYblox will face the soon-to-be constructed C1TY Boulevard and will feature parking immediately off Charlotte Avenue. Construction of oneC1TY’s infrastructure, green spaces, outdoor amenities and first office building began in late 2013.

C1TYblox will include a mix of programmable outdoor space, restaurants and fitness-oriented service businesses (with an emphasis on local ownership). Doyle said the use of shipping containers will allow Cambridge to provide services at oneC1TY far sooner than it could with conventional construction. It also will complement Cambridge’s and oneC1TY’s commitment to environmentally sensitive development, he added.

New York-based SG Blocks will manufacture the pre-fabricated containers, with delivery to the site set for this fall.

“Our business model revolves around speed and sustainability, and we know that oneC1TY and the community will greatly benefit from and enjoy these spaces,” said Paul Galvin, SG Blocks chairman and CEO. “We are disrupting the traditional real estate model by helping developers make use of their properties more quickly and efficiently. C1TYblox will serve as a great accelerator for the larger development of oneC1TY.”

Doyle said he has observed the useful application of reused shipping containers during his travels. For example, he said devastated natural disaster areas in New Zealand have become retail destinations, density and traffic have been generated in redeveloping neighborhoods in London, and pop-up music venues have been created in public spaces throughout Melbourne.

“Now we are bringing our version of this strategy to Nashville as the building blocks for incubating business, fitness and food concepts within the oneC1TY community,” Doyle said.

Gary Gaston, design director at the Nashville Civic Design Center, called the move “innovative.”

“It’s just an ingenious way to activate the site while all the work is happening,” Gaston said. “It will add a lot of energy to the site.”

The completion of C1TYblox by year’s end will come approximately 10 months before the first permanent building, which will rise four stories and span approximately 125,000 square feet, is completed on the oneC1TY campus.

When oneC1TY is fully developed, the mixed-use urban node will be home to companies representing the health care, life sciences and technology sectors of the global economy, comprising more than 1 million square feet of Class A research/office, retail, residential and green spaces.