May 7, 2019
Chestnut Hill: Communal, micro-living project Bento Box readies for opening
By Sandy Mazza, for Nashville Tennessean
A new rental housing concept that prioritizes lease flexibility and communal living will open soon in one of Nashville’s littler-known neighborhoods on the outskirts of downtown.
Construction is almost finished on Bento Box Living, a sharply angled five-story building, across from Dudley Park in Chestnut Hill.
When it begins leasing in September, it will offer short and long-term stay options in a range of floor plans with micro-units as small as 250 square feet.
Like a hotel, the rooms will be fully furnished. But tenants can stay for days, weeks, months or years.
Justin Koziol, a New York-based designer, is building the project with his father, Peter, a developer. It’s the first of many “flexible living” communities they hope to open around the country.
“We saw a big shift in the way people are choosing to live,” Koziol said. “People are not buying as much stuff and they’re sharing more, like car sharing. It’s really a more sustainable way to live so we decided to start a couple of businesses that would help facilitate that.”
The rooms will have modern, minimalist designs.
The Bento Box brand also includes a home furnishing and modular home building company, and a business coworking and event space club.
Bar, restaurant and automated parking
Next month, the Koziols will debut a tiki bar and food truck concept called B1281 Surf Club behind the building at 1281 3rd Ave. S.
The bar is inspired by the family’s home in Hawaii and features bright tropical murals.
“I really like the backyard bar concept as a way to introduce neighbors to Chestnut Hill,” Justin Koziol said. “I grew up in Hawaii, so we’re trying to bring a little bit of the island vibe to Nashville.”
A rooftop bar, a restaurant, and retail shops will open after the residential portion.
The project will also have the first fully automated parking garage in Nashville.
Residents will park their car in the CityLift parking system’s ground level entrance and the mechanical lift will shuffle them vertically and horizontally to maximize space within the four-level building.
The site abuts a railroad track, so they are also working to get quiet-zone approval to silence the train horn at the crossing.
“We looked at a bunch of different markets, including New York and Chicago,” Koziol said. “They’re not as open to innovative concepts as you would think. It’s also very expensive and difficult to do there as a first-time developer. Places like Nashville are a good value, they have a good quality of life, and they have the right demographic.”
The most affordable rentals in the 89-unit building will be in communal suites. Five micro-units will share a kitchen, and each will be furnished with a folding Murphy bed, a mini-fridge, television and bathroom.
Koziol hasn’t released pricing details but said nightly hotel stays will start at $150 to $250.
Slightly larger 400 square foot micro-units will also be available, along with 600 square feet and 800 square feet rooms.
Koziol said they chose the site because it’s on a hill with views of the city, and they hope to foster more community in the neighborhood.
“We wanted a space that wasn’t in the Gulch or downtown,” He said. “We really want it to have a neighborhood vibe. We’re not targeting people who are coming down to party on Broadway. We’re targeting people interested in living locally and maybe entrepreneurial-minded, or working from home.”
The neighboring Wedgewood Houston neighborhood has attracted new creative, entrepreneurial businesses in recent years. Corsair Distillery is nearby, with a number of small local businesses.
The Bento Box project will also include five retail storefronts, and the Koziols are considering opening a grocery market in one of them.
Flexible lease terms will also be offered to the businesses, and the Koziols will customize the spaces for tenants.
“We want to offer businesses an opportunity to have a turnkey product too,” Koziol said. “Coming from a small business background ourselves, we don’t want to lock businesses into these really long term, onerous leases. We’re trying to give you everything you need, but you still can customize it and make it your own.”Next Post