TownePlace Suites by Marriott

Crain Construction TownePlace Suites
  • 10 stories
  • 193 rooms, 27 room types
  • 177-space parking garage
  • 10 stories
  • 220,000 square feet of structure on a .66-acre site

Developer: 3H Group

Architect: Winford Lindsay and Associates

Contractor: Crain Construction

Civil Engineer: Civil and Environmental Consultants

Geotech engineer and 3rd party inspections:ECS Unlimited

Solving the Challenges of Building on City’s Oldest Sewer Tunnel

Building on top of a 100-plus-year-old sewer tunnel can be a challenge, and intentional planning is crucial. We employed some creative solutions while building TownePlace Suites by Marriott on a very tight site near downtown Nashville.


The impressive Kerrigan Tunnel cuts through a large portion of the hotel’s footprint.
Built in the 1890s, the Kerrigan Tunnel is the city’s oldest and longest combined sewer/stormwater tunnel. Measuring 16 feet across with the thickness of seven layers of bricks, at its largest point, the tunnel extends from Vanderbilt University through Centennial Park and into the Cumberland River in Germantown. Originally built to handle creek and stormwater flow, it later became a combined sewer and today is a vital part of Nashville’s overall sewerage system.


Working on a tight site and straddling the tunnel, our Crain Construction team was very intentional and took a lot of precautions while constructing the 10-story, 193-room hotel on a .66-acre site, with only three feet to the property line on the east and west sides and seven feet on the north side.

Crews used smaller track equipment to clear the site, slowing the demolition of three existing buildings. A third-party inspector, hired by the city, was onsite to oversee all our work done near the tunnel. An emergency bypass pump system was installed onsite as a precaution in case the tunnel was damaged while foundations were being installed.

Drilled piers were installed on either side of the tunnel and the slab on grade was poured over the sewer tunnel to protect it as soon as possible.

The building is designed so Metro Nashville will always have access to the tunnel should there be a need for repairs in the future. Exterior fence panels at the ground level are removable to allow for access to the tunnel within the footprint of the building, and the ceiling height of the first floor is 30 feet to accommodate any equipment the city might need to access or repair the tunnel.

The parking garage anchors the TownePlace Suites, with five levels of post tension concrete topped by five floors with structural studs with composite slabs. High-density, 2x3x8-foot Styrofoam blocks were used to get fill and rise for the ramp entering the garage, without adding extra weight on the old tunnel.

Led by a veteran construction superintendent with 40+ years of experience, our project team employed creative problem solving and leveraged relationships with subcontractors to set the project up for success. Our work on the project garnered us an Eagle Award, the highest honor for Excellence in Construction from ABC of Greater Tennessee.

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