Veteran real-estate developer Bill Smith, owner of real-estate development company Smithfield Properties LLC, is joining forces with entrepreneurs Aubrey Preston and Taylor Preston to propose a mixed-use real-estate development at the southern edge of downtown Nashville.

Proposed for 6th Avenue South and Ash Street, just south of Lafayette Street, the project would transform a four-acre industrial site with four distinct mid- and high-rise towers offering 1.6 million square feet of office, residential and retail space. More than 90 residential units would be dedicated as workforce housing for teachers and public employees.

The signature structure: A 40-story office tower with 860,000 square feet of Class A office space, suitable for a corporate headquarters or capable of accommodating multiple tenants.

The north side of the project would tie into the new Division Street Extension, Bridge and Complete Street Project, a half-mile $25 million Metro Public Works initiative designed to spur new investment and establish a vital transportation link between the Gulch and SoBro. Completion of Public Works’ Division Street project is critical to the viability of the mixed-use development.

“We’re excited to bring forward a big idea that we believe speaks directly to the community’s desire to have more residential and retail options in downtown Nashville, in addition to office space,” said Smith, managing partner of Smithfield Nashville LLC, the joint venture behind the proposed project.

Smith said the plan for workforce housing as part of the residential portion of the development is a nod to Mayor Megan Barry’s call for better housing options for teachers, which she made during a December speech to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Education Report Card Committee.

“I’m glad that Smithfield Nashville heard the call loud and clear,” Mayor Barry said. “I encourage other mixed-use and residential developers to treat workforce housing as an integral part of their plans. The more we can view this as a priority from the beginning, versus an after-thought at the end, the more successful we’ll be in making Nashville a place where everyone can live.”

Smithfield Nashville is an affiliate of Chicago-based Smithfield Properties. Owned and operated by Smith, the company builds award-winning residential high-rise condominiums, retail shopping centers, townhouses, industrial projects, student housing and high-rise mixed-use projects. Smith’s business philosophy is to be personally involved in every aspect of the development process — including site selection, financing, architecture, and design as well as structural, mechanical and civil engineering.

Currently, the site at 6th and Ash is home to a large warehouse. Smithfield Nashville is scheduled to close on its purchase of the property in May, and will demolish the warehouse in order to develop the mixed-use project.

“There’s a lot of work to do before this concept becomes a reality,” said Aubrey Preston, the businessman and Music Row preservationist who helped save the historic RCA Studio A from the wrecking ball. “But our vision is for thousands of Nashvillians to be able to live and work together in what we hope will be an iconic addition to the city’s skyline.”

Before moving forward, the proposed development would require approval by Metro government to raise height restrictions in the area and allow for the construction of high-rise buildings. Smithfield Nashville filed a request on March 15 asking the Metro Planning Department to consider high-rise buildings on the site.

Taylor Preston, a Middle Tennessee commercial real-estate developer who’s helping lead the 6th and Ash property acquisition, noted: “The site’s close proximity to Interstates 40 and 65 would give this proposed development unique visibility among downtown properties and easy access for commercial and residential tenants.”

Smith lauded Taylor Preston’s vision in identifying the site and Aubrey Preston’s leadership in articulating how the project could become part of the fabric of a world-class city. “Working as a team,” Smith said, “we’re optimistic about Nashville’s future and we look forward to working with all involved to turn this big idea into a reality.”