The Buntin Group to Restore Historic Tennessee Central Train Shed
The Buntin Group today announced plans for the relocation of the 110-person agency to the former Tennessee Central Railway train shed, located one mile from downtown Nashville, with renovations and property revitalization scheduled over the course of the year. The announcement comes on the heels of the agency’s having sold its prior location on Hawkins Street in October of last year.
“We’ve been looking for the right place to move the agency for some time, and we have found it,” said President and CEO Jeffrey Buntin, Jr. “It’s an unprecedented time for real estate in Nashville, and we are excited to have secured one of the true remaining gems in terms of history, proximity to downtown, and the opportunity to create the kind of modern working environment we’ve been looking for.”
An Important Role In The Story of Nashville
The site, comprising over two acres off Hermitage Avenue on Willow Street, was first built in the early 1900s as a maintenance shed serving the cars of the Tennessee Central Railway. Pioneered in 1884 by Alexander S. Crawford, the Tennessee Central Railway was the first to open eastern rail service into Nashville, expanding commerce beyond the established northern and central lines operated by the L&N Railway and others. The historic shed, most recently used as a warehouse, was erected to service the cars of the eastern lines because they were denied access to the train yards in the area now known as The Gulch.
“The other lines had a monopoly on the Union Station maintenance yard and felt that, by blocking the eastern and southern cars from coming in for service, they could eliminate the line,” said Buntin. “This shed was erected to provide that service and to make it known that these lines were here to stay.”
Later purchased in 1893 by “Colonel” Jere Baxter (for whom Baxter, Tennessee is named), the Tennessee Central went on to become an important corridor in providing goods and services access to downtown. Among its many accomplishments, it is credited with bringing the first-ever diesel-electric locomotive switcher into Nashville. A similar-style locomotive is on display at Centennial Park and is currently being restored for resumed passenger operation on this same line.
Space Specially Designed for Ideas and Innovation
Originally constructed using materials from the rail yard, the building site maintains its original timbers, steel trusses and a 35-foot span to the ceiling. It also sits adjacent to the Tennessee Central Railway Museum, is situated alongside the departure point for daylong passenger train excursions and is less than one-half mile from Rolling Mill Hill. “We were drawn to the size of the property, the creative potential of the space and the proximity, yes – but as important to us is the story of the building, its role in the city’s development and its character,” said Buntin. “To be situated along an active passenger rail line just minutes from the Entrepreneur Center, Pinewood Social, Ascend Amphitheater – and to have this kind of structure to work with – it’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity.”
Having built its former South Gulch location more than 30 years ago, the move marks the second time in its 45-year history that the agency has set out to pioneer an area of Nashville situated along the city’s rail lines. “I think at that time, the company came to The Gulch primarily because it made good economic sense,” said Buntin. “This time, we’re attracted to the value, but it’s also about a vision for the area.” When asked about his thoughts for the space itself, Buntin commented, “High-technology, high collaboration, open and interactive workspace wrapped in a re-expression of how the building originally stood… vintage railway materials, the sturdiness of iron and steel, and a work ethic to keep the trains running. That fits who we are and, I believe, has the potential to define this part of Nashville, as well.”
With new technologies continually redefining the way brands are built and consumed, the move also marks an opportunity to do what Buntin calls “future canvassing” the company. “Programmatic ad buying through high-speed trading desks, virtual reality video, at-the-moment content creation – our plan is to create the infrastructure, technology and support systems to allow our people and our clients to thrive in a new world of endless communications opportunities.”
The Excitement and Thrill of Traveling New Places
In addition to housing the agency’s operations, plans for the site include passenger train cars to be placed on a rail spur located adjacent to the property. “Break room, conference rooms, innovation labs, client workspace… even the ability to hook up and go for a ride – all ideas are in the mix,” said Buntin.
Complementing the site as a new home for the agency, the move also places the firm at the literal intersection of future transportation plans for Nashville. In fact, virtually every organization that has conducted studies into the city’s transit future call for this rail line, already home to the Music City Star, to receive immediate investment as a key corridor accessing downtown. “If you look at the recommendations from nMotion, Moving Forward and others, they all essentially seek to revive and expand what this line originally set out to do – opening up alternative and scalable avenues into the heart of our city,” said Buntin. “For us, it makes this about the building, but also about rail travel as a way of life at the turn of the century and, we believe, in the future of Nashville, as well. We’ll see. We’re excited to be a catalyst for this exciting new energy.”
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