January 08, 2024
Q&A: Boyle’s local leader Jeff Haynes talks growth in Middle Tennessee
Real estate development company continues to invest in Davidson, Williamson counties after 90 years in business
Boyle Investment Company celebrated 90 years of real estate development in 2023. Though the company is based in Memphis, its Nashville office has been open since 2001 and has grown from two employees to 34.
The company operates about 3.2 million square feet of commercial space and has investments in around 1,500 multifamily units in the Nashville market. It’s known for local developments like Capitol View Nashville, CityPark Brentwood, Meridian Cool Springs, Berry Farms and McEwen Northside in Franklin.
Post sister publication The News spoke with Jeff Haynes, managing partner of Boyle’s Nashville office, about the growth of the company in Nashville as it looks back on its 90 years of history.
Tell me about some of the history of the projects that you have done and the growth you’ve experienced as Middle Tennessee has grown.
I think it’s important to start with honoring the three brothers Bayard Boyle, Snowden Boyle and Charles Boyle who had the vision and foresight to start the company in 1933 coming out of the depression. It’s very rare in the real estate industry for companies to survive 90 years. I think one of our most respected competitors would be H.G. Hill here locally who have been around for 125 years. But most real estate companies are very young and very new. To survive 90 years requires financial stability, requires a commitment to working with each of your employees, requires adaptability and creativity to develop projects that are in tune with what the market wants each and every day. We’ve tried to do that here through being an expert in mixed-use development. We started mixed-use in 2006 at Meridian in Cool Springs. We now have five dominant mixed-use projects … where we integrate apartments, hotels, office and retail into the development blender to try to spit out a walkable, pedestrian-friendly, urban-designed mixed-use project.
What’s on the horizon for Boyle as you look at that continued growth in Middle Tennessee
We are contrarians. Even though the economy is a little bit dicey right now and interest rates have risen, we started our newest office building at McEwen Northside, which is going to be a 300,000-square-foot office building on top of retail. Even though it’s an interesting time to start a building, we believe in that project. It’s been very successful. …We’re constantly looking for opportunities. We’re working on some potential developments in Davidson County. We’re very interested in Sumner County. We’re actually looking at another residential development in Williamson County as well. So while the market is correcting itself, we’re out looking at opportunities to try to take advantage of what we consider to be an interesting time in our business.
I think Nashville today is vastly different. We have much more competition coming from all parts of the globe because Nashville is an attractive place in which to do business because of the economic and population growth. It’s a much more competitive landscape. So we’ve got to constantly look at trends. Nashville tends not to be a leader in architecture and development. We spend a lot of time looking at projects in Austin, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and Chicago — traveling to touch and feel and walk other mixed-use projects. That’s how we came up with the jewel box idea at McEwen. We saw some jewel boxes in a project in D.C. and came back and said, “Let’s try it.”
It’s important that we try to differentiate ourselves in our projects for the people who live there, who work there, who visit the retailers there. We’re trying to create a sense of community in each of our projects. That’s really important to us to develop the fabric of that community. Berry Farms has a unique, rural sense of community. McEwen Northside is much more urban in its design, and then Meridian is sort of a blend of the two. With a project like Capitol View where we partnered with the Metro Parks Department and built Frankie Pierce Park in a public private partnership to create a wonderful two-and-a-half acre, urban park. So, you’ll see lots of green space in our projects, lots of walkability. We’re not trying to put bricks and mortar on every square inch of the land. We’re trying to develop that unique sense of community.
What does it take to get that kind of public-private partnership done?
Being naive, being patient, willing to roll up your sleeves and work with all departments at a municipality. Probably four years of banging my head against the wall with CSX railroad, who proved to be my nemesis, but we were fortunate enough to get that done. A fantastic part that truly changed the nature of Capitol View and helped us start to add art in all of our projects — we’ve got lots of murals and we now call it Mural Park — with CSX’s blessing we’ve added murals to the railroad tunnels there. You’ll now see mural art at Northside McEwen. So, we’ve started working with very creative muralists around the city to create art in all of our projects and not just allow blank walls for people to look at.
Do you also try to stick to using local groups for construction?
We do. That’s important to us from architects to engineers, to landscape architects, to lawyers, to contractors, we want to try to use local partners. I think the other thing that’s unique about Boyle over 90 years is our commitment to support the nonprofit industry. We have an internal program called Boyle Cares where our team members are encouraged to volunteer their time and to help raise money, and so each project partners with nonprofits. McEwen Northside and Meridian partners with the Boys and Girls Club of Williamson County and New Hope Academy. We’re constantly having events for those nonprofits at our projects, so that’s a really important differentiation of how we like to do business.