One Hundred Oaks was the first closed indoor shopping mall in Nashville, originally built in 1968. Featuring 880,000 square feet of retail space on a 56-acre site and 4,000 parking spaces, One Hundred Oaks was a “retail wonderland,” well known in the Nashville area. However, by 2005, the mall was dead in the water, another casualty of suburban flight. There were attempts to revive the mall in the 1990s, but despite viable exterior tenants, the interior upper concourse was all but abandoned.
At the same time, just four miles away, Vanderbilt Health’s flagship facility, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) was growing and quickly running out of space to expand services on its 21st Street campus. Because of growth on the university campus and the dense urban environment, VUMC was basically landlocked.
Vanderbilt leadership made the decision to create a new health and wellness campus away from the crowded main campus, enabling Vanderbilt Health to deliver care to the community with convenience, as well as to accelerate market share growth that would simply be impossible at the current site. As far as location and accessibility factors are concerned, there was no better spot than One Hundred Oaks. But could Vanderbilt Health really put all its future plans in the middle of a failed shopping mall?
Despite the unconventional nature of the location, One Hundred Oaks actually had a lot going for it. It was located close to the 21st Street campus—just four miles away—as well as downtown Nashville, and was easily accessible, scalable, and, perhaps most importantly, available. As the old adage goes, it was so crazy, it just might work.
Vanderbilt Health, developers ATR & Associates Inc. and Corinth Properties, and architecture firm Gresham, Smith and Partners repurposed the 880,000-square-foot mall into a 450,000-square-foot medical center (only 300,000 feet of which is currently being used), home to 22 specialty clinics (as well as pharmacy, imaging, and a lab) housed in a LEED-certified—no mean feat considering that the infrastructure was built 40 years ago as a retail space. There would also be a 47,500-square-foot, five-story office tower. And it was all delivered on time and on budget.
With a 12-year lease in hand, the team set about on executing the master plan in mid-2007—no mean feat given the space and timeline. As Katherine Kennon with Vanderbilt Space and Facilities Planning explains, “We partnered with Gresham, Smith and Partners's planning group and scheduled a crazy number of meetings—something like 100 meetings in a month and a half. There were three groups a day meeting for a roughly eight-week period with the users to develop their individual programs and space plans.”
Roughly 35 groups were programmed; ultimately only 22 were chosen to move into the new space via a decision matrix created by the Vanderbilt team.
In addition to the structure itself, there were many site enhancements made, including major changes to traffic circulation. “While Vanderbilt was going through its design work internally,” explains Tony Ruggeri of developer ATR & Associates, “the developers were working with Gresham, Smith and Partners on the site. We wanted to ensure that there was better traffic flow, because we knew there were some serious traffic issues both on the property and in entering and exiting the property. We also worked with Metro Nashville to realign some of the traffic lights nearby. We also worked on the external façade.”
Other additions include a walking trail, new landscaping (including 100 oak trees, of course), improvement and expansion of the existing retail, and the establishment of enhanced security provided by Vanderbilt Police.