A Walk on the Green Side
The Voice Tribume
I’m walking with Gill Holland, the man behind the city’s Green Building on Market Street, and am having trouble digesting this flurry of information. We start at his office in Gallery NuLu, where Holland gives me a quick tour of the Ashley Cecil-Sarah Lyon show while flipping lights off. Holland’s office isn’t what you’d expect — piles of papers stacked on a modest glass-top desk, plenty of art on the walls, nothing fancy. No office design firm is involved in Holland’s decor.
In fact, there’s nothing here that would indicate that Holland is the current hero of Market Street, having orchestrated the purchase of 10 buildings down the street from the Wayside Chrisitan Mission. Lunch is at Jennica’s next door, where Holland is a regular. The conversation is sprinkled with references to the greening of society, how upset he gets that, for example, his daily newspaper comes in wasteful plastic bags.
A block away, we’re stepping over construction debris, climbing unfinished stairs, peaking through unfinished walls, as Holland talks about how cool everything is inside the three-story building.
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It’s raining outside, and I nearly trip several times walking around dozens of workers, but Holland glides through in sandals like he owns the place (he does) and like he’s done this tour a hundred times before (probably true).
Here’s the spot that will become a cozy restaurant with the feel of places Holland knows in New York, and I’m reminded of the denim insulation made from jeans. Down in the basement, there’s some geo-thermal contraption that provides energy from water hundreds of feet below ground. Out back, there’s a view of the Disney Tire property, where Holland and some partners plan a year-round Farmers Market.
On one side of the building, Holland explains his plan to build a parking garage with first-floor retail. As I squeeze between some scaffolding and a wall, I see the room that will become the NuLu gallery, looking up to see the lighting that Holland assures me will have a cool look to it.
Over here, Holland says, is something that will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen — a vertical garden, where plantings will be set in 2 x 2 squares to create a green wall of vegetation. There are the solar panels, which in the summer will provide enough energy that the building will put power back into the electric grid.
Office space on top floor is not yet rented, but this spot won’t last long. Workers are using recycled wood to create a special floor, while overhead beams that were part of the original construction have been cleaned up and remain exposed. There just isn’t much involved in the project, he says, that required new material.
As we wrap things up, Holland introduces me to Tim Peters, the man in charge of construction, and his wife, Lois Mateus, the retired Brown-Forman exec. Peters is having a sandwich, there are smiles all around.