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Up Close With Tim Downey, Southern Land Co

With deep roots in Tennessee, Southern Land Co is all over the map with its residential and commercial developments: Colorado, Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina. Founder and CEO Tim Downey tells us the company has $1B under development, a milestone it achieved recently.


For Southern Land, Tim says, development is a game of quality over quantity. "That's one reason we've spread out geographically. We're very selective in the sites we choose, so we have to look far and wide for them."

Sites need to be in markets with strong job and population growth, factors that support high-quality, high-priced projects. Also, Tim adds, they have to be fun places—and walkable places—to live or work. "If we didn't want to live there, we wouldn't want to build there."


Denver's a highly attractive market for the company. 18th & Central in LoHi marks its first development here, aimed at both educated young professionals and families.

The property, which is under construction, will offer 302 apartments in two buildings, as well as 9,300 SF of ground-floor retail. Some apartments will be available later in 2016, with all of them scheduled for completion in early 2017.


Southern Land's roots are humble, beginning in Chattanooga as a janitorial company in the late 1970s that later began doing building maintenance. By the mid-'80s, it had evolved into a real estate development company, working its way up to its flagship development, Westhaven in Franklin, TN, and relocating to Nashville along the way.

"Besides better access to other parts of the country, we decided that Nashville is also a better place to find and keep the talent we needed to grow," Tim says.


That talent includes a staff of about 20 architects, designers and engineers, since Southern Land does almost all of its design process in-house. "In addition, we have 30 dedicated horticulturists and even own our own greenhouses (pictured)," Tim says, which helps the company take a thorough approach to the details of development.

Looking ahead, he says the kind of sites the company prefers for residential development might be a little hard to find, but he sees opportunity in developing the kind of creative office space the market is demanding.