Mayor Karl Dean, with MDHA, the Music City Music Council and members of the city’s arts community, joined tenants of Ryman Lofts for a grand opening celebration recently in Nashville. The event included a ribbon cutting, along with performances and artwork displays by tenants. Tenants also wrote and performed the song “Looks Like We’re Home” for the grand opening. The Ryman Lofts are located on Hermitage Avenue at Middleton Street, near the one time home of Captain Thomas Ryman, who oversaw the 1890s construction of the downtown auditorium that today bears his name.
“Part of what makes Nashville known around the world is the incredible creative community we have living and working in our city,” Mayor Dean said. “Nothing inspires a creative mind like bringing it together with other creative minds, and that synergy between smart, talented individuals is exactly what excites me about Ryman Lofts.”
The 53,000-square-foot building in Rolling Mill Hill includes 60 studio, 1-bedroom and 3-bedroom apartments. All of the units are currently pre-leased or occupied. Ground was broken on Ryman Lofts in October 2011, and the building was substantially completed in January 2013.
The idea for Ryman Lofts grew from the Music City Music Council, which recognized that making quality affordable urban housing available to emerging artists can spur small business development, reduce transportation demands and help nurture the city’s creative workforce.
“It’s been truly exciting to see this building go from concept to a home for dozens of Nashville artists,” said Randy Goodman, who serves as co-chair with Mayor Dean of the Music City Music Council. “The idea for Ryman Lofts stemmed from conversations between music industry leaders like Tim DuBois, Jody Williams, Mary Ann McCready, the Mayor’s Office and MDHA. To see people living at Ryman Lofts and to know they are already creating art here is really cool.”
Applications were accepted online beginning in October, 2012 and move-ins began in early February of this year. While the majority of residents at Ryman Lofts are musical artists, people in the visual and performance arts also call the building home, including painters, sculptors, actors and photographers among the tenants. Units are available to working and aspiring artists who “practice in the unique creation and public display or performance of visual arts, craft, sound and performance art, film and television, theater, dance, music or literary arts.”
In order to qualify for residency at Ryman Lofts, applicants undergo a credit and criminal background check and submit examples of their work along with three letters of reference for a panel of arts experts to review. While it wasn’t required that the applicants make their living solely from their work, the panel looked for evidence the applicant was pursuing a career in the arts on a “regular and persistent basis.” Applicants must also earn 60 percent or less of the area median income.
“Our research and our experience with Ryman Lofts show us that people are embracing the idea of living in downtown Nashville,” said Ralph Mosley, chair, MDHA Board of Commissioners. “For these artists, being close to music venues, art galleries and nightlife, combined with affordability, makes Ryman Lofts a great place to live.”
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