From a sightline ten or so stories off the ground, the view from downtown isn’t quite as spectacular as the view of downtown. From the top-floor Massey Boardroom at Belmont University’s business school or just driving South on I-65 into town, the view of downtown evokes the sense of bustle, those large buildings symbols of American-style uniform cosmopolitanism.

The view from downtown, on the other hand, atop any one of the high-rises of commerce – and, more recently, homeownership – tells another story.

Dilapidated, exposed brick walls marked with age on neighboring buildings steal the eye and can make one long for more urban art or even (dare I say it?) large scale advertising, a la Joe’s Crab Shack on Second Ave, those walls surrounding that very parking lot having housed an eye-catching Southwest Airlines advertisement a few years ago.

The long shot view? Those streets we quickly drive through on the way to Germantown Café, or the Farmer’s Market to the North, and I-40 to the South. There is the stadium and the Shelby Street Bridge, which offer pleasant views but, let’s face it, a ten story high view of anything is better than living in an apartment with a window that faces a wall or parking lot.

So hopes Bert Mathews, whose nearly seventy-year-old family-owned business, The Mathews Company, is currently renovating Nashville’s historic Stahlman Building, located on Union Street downtown, and plans to open it later this summer. Chances are you’ve heard of The Mathews Company before. Previous successes include the renovation of the Ryman Auditorium, and the Commerce Center, that multicolored creation on Commerce Street that most notably houses the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce office.

The Stahlman Building (www.thestahlman.com) will be unique in that it will offer apartments for lease, instead of condominiums for purchase.

“We did it for a couple of reasons,” said Mathews, the company president, as we chatted in one of the impressively airy and illusorily spacious finished units in the complex. “With so many condos here, we thought it would be great to offer apartments.” Within the past year or so, the Riverfront Apartments, the Bernie Dillon, and the Quarters apartments, according to Mathews, have all transitioned from leased apartments to condos for sale.

“From a supply and demand perspective,” he added, “we’re not adding any more apartments than are really being taken off the market.” He foresees a residential increase of over 600 people within the next couple years.

When it opens in August, the Stahlman Building will house 142 apartments, offering studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom floor plans. Prices will range from $850 to $1600 and will include one parking space. Right now only a couple units on the ninth floor are furnished and available for tours.

Just off the elevator is the original mosaic tile floor, an intricate design alluding to a time when such detail was neither taken for granted nor so easy to take for granted. The building was built in 1907 by the same developer who later built the original Hermitage Hotel a few blocks away and eventually built a collection of what have become some of New York City’s toniest apartment buildings.

The hallways are lined with marble walls that go up about halfway toward the twelve foot ceilings. Each apartment has an abundance of natural lighting, with those windows in fact creating the impression of much more space than the posted square footage.

Look for string of eight to ten retail shops to house most of the ground floor.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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