Exclusive: Record-Setting Investor Returns For Third Broadway Deal


According to multiple sources, The Ardent Cos. is under contract to buy the three-story building on Lower Broadway where Tequila Cowboy and its sister company, WannaB’s Karaoke Bar, currently operate.

An Atlanta investor who’s shown the appetite and ability to pay astounding record prices for downtown Nashville real estate is poised to do that again for a third time.

According to multiple real estate sources, The Ardent Cos. is under contract for the building at 305 Broadway, squarely in downtown’s honky-tonk tourist district — which will be particularly swarmed later this month for the CMA Music Festival. Nashville’s rising national profile (and fledgling international one) has generated record tourist visits in recent years, thanks in part to country music’s mainstream popularity, the recently cancelled ABC show “Nashville” and a host of other factors.

Should The Ardent Cos. complete this pending deal, the private investment firm would own three properties within a half-block radius on Broadway — firmly establishing itself as a major landlord on what is the postcard shot of downtown’s nightlife and home to the properties that have sold for some of the largest price tags during Nashville’s ongoing real estate boom.

In the past 20 months, The Ardent Cos. has spent $21 million in two deals for Lower Broadway real estate. That tab does not count what the company invested to turn its first purchase, at 312 Broadway, into The Valentine, a four-story “upscale saloon” that opened this month.

The building at 305 Broadway is presently leased by Tequila Cowboy Bar & Grill and its sister company, WannaB’s Karaoke Bar. Sources suggested there are multiple years remaining on those leases.

The Ardent Cos. commanded attention at the very end of last year by paying $16 million for the building and 22-space parking lot at 208 Broadway, diagonally across from Tequila Cowboy.

At the time, Ardent executive Scott Werbel said in an interview: “We are long-term investors in Nashville. We’re aggressively looking for additional acquisitions. We’d like to buy specifically on Broadway, but we’ll look anywhere in the downtown area where there’s the growth and rent increases to support it. … We didn’t necessarily want to be known as the ones setting the high-water mark, but we do believe the price we paid is justified.”

Werbel declined comment for this story when reached on Tuesday.

Public records indicate the three-story building contains about 50,000 square feet. Records show that the property is owned by a member of the Hand family, which also owns Knoxville-based Eagle Distributing Co.

“We have no comment on the story at this time,” said Mike Craig, who is general partner of Hand Partnership L.P. and also the chief financial officer at Eagle Distributing.

It was not immediately clear what price Ardent Cos. is under contract to pay to the Hand family, or when the sale is scheduled to close.

Adam Sichko
Senior Reporter
Nashville Business Journal


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