The Loft Weekend

Get a taste of how downtown living really feels







an intimate getaway, consider

By now you've probably heard all about this downtown thing—it's been in all the papers. Maybe you've even checked it out for yourself. Something like 65,000 of you did at last month's Rossini Festival. And more than 10,000 came downtown for the season opener of Sundown in the City. That goes to show you: Not only will people come downtown if you give them a reason, but they'll even find a place to park—thousands of 'em.

Although I have to admit, a few blocks farther away and I might as well have walked from the house Thursday before last. I mean, all the street spaces on Depot were even taken (that's down by Regas, in case you're wondering ). Walking up to the TVA plaza to take in the crowd, the sight of so many people packed into, not just Market Square, but Krutch Park and all the streets around it was impressive to say the least. Might have made for the world's biggest mosh-pit, except that the music was, well, mellow.

Even on non-event nights, downtown's getting livelier than it's been in a long time. Inevitable, really—add a few hundred more residents and more feet on the street is the immediate, automatic result. And with more projects in the works, those numbers are bound to grow, indeed likely double, considering the number of units that are in the process of being added to downtown's housing stock.

A taste of downtown living, however, is a bit harder to experience than downtown playing. For the latter, all it takes is a night on the town—dinner at Nama, a show at the Tennessee, drinks afterwards at Sapphire—to get hooked. But, short of hooking up, the sensation of stumbling out of bed and sauntering into breakfast at Harold's or brunch at the Tomato Head is difficult to replicate.

Until now, that is, thanks to the enterprising souls over at the Cook Loft at the northeast corner of Gay Street and Cumberland Avenue. The concept was so simple I'm surprised no one thought of it sooner: Take the upper floor of an old downtown commercial building, trick it out as a loft and, rather than sell it or lease it by the month, rent it out at overnight and weekend rates. A fully equipped two bedroom, two and one-half bath loft complete with a fully equipped kitchen (granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and a Jenn-Air range, naturally), this isn't some glorified hotel room. And with design features like hardwood floors, exposed brick and skylights, it offers guests a firsthand glimpse of what loft living really feels like.

Oh, and if you'd prefer to mix business with pleasure, there's wireless high-speed Internet service and an AV center with large-screen TV and projector. So whether it's a business meeting, a private party or an intimate getaway, consider making it a loft weekend.

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