The Chatter Class: Rolling with riverfront redevelopment

Wednesday, January 2, 2008 at 1:25am

Every New Year’s brings the desire to look back at the previous year to gauge what will or should happen in the next.

Nashville has a new mayor going into the new year so instead of looking back at what did or didn’t happen last year under the old mayor, let’s look at what should be on the table for consideration next year, specifically on downtown redevelopment.

A new convention center clearly will take center stage. But Nashville’s riverfront should share that stage prominently.

Nashville generally has long been behind the curve in downtown redevelopment, with urban residential living in particular reviving in peer cities years ahead of Music City.

Nashville has a modicum of new downtown residents but is light years behind others in developing its riverfront.

Chattanooga figured it out awhile ago as did Memphis. Knoxville is working on it.

The Cumberland River seems like a stream compared to the Mississippi or Tennessee Rivers, and not as picturesque. Still, there’s a good value for the high banks of the river.

The big groupthink last year on what should be done with the downtown riverfront was simply “that’s nice” and “those things are always good to do.”

Focusing on creating green spaces along the riverfront was an admirable task for sure, but the 20-year plan’s practicality is questionable in places and probably should be reconsidered.

Look at the plan around LP Field. Isn’t it sort of like putting lipstick on a pig to surround LP Field with an urban forest? How’s that for some irony – Louisiana-Pacific and urban forest?

The tailgaters probably would like some small trees to mangle on game day or have for shade when they have reveled a little too much. But couldn’t the scrap yard be put to a use that actually brings in property and sales taxes? It’s doing that now, just in an ugly way.

Maybe Nashville should revisit the idea of a theme park next to the football stadium.

Many urban planners scoffed at such an idea when it was proposed several years ago. Why would we want roller coasters and a Ferris wheel to be the first image of Nashville? Well, why not?

Driving in from the east, LP Field looks so cool with Nashville’s skyline as a backdrop. And that scrap yard is oh so beautiful, a nice accent to the warehouses and LP Field, with Nashville’s skyline as a backdrop.

With haughtiness, some thought the scrap yard should be converted into an urban neighborhood with cool, funky shops. It will be a long time, if ever, before the Plan of Nashville’s idea comes to fruition to eliminate that stretch of interstate through East Nashville.

OK, so Thrillopolis wasn’t the best name for a theme park. Perhaps, a name with “village” in it would appease folks as would a bunch of shops amid trees and low-level rides, not those big thrill seeking, twisting looping ones.

How many people remember the holiday decorations in the Opryland theme park?

Imagine the view from the top of a signature Ferris wheel, looking toward downtown.

So what if the place sits dark for a few months during the winter. If Al Gore is correct, it might be open year around at some point in the future anyway.

Filed under: City Business
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By: BADCOPS on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Before anything is done with downtown I would make sure the dams are secure. We wouldn't all that money invested be under water.I think something along the lines of a Faneuil Hall or a Quincy Market would be great. Boat slips to attract more boaters to Nashville.

By: crackcitytn on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Since Dean is from Mass he should consider BC's thoughts.Faneuil Hall is a great place. Great restaurants, shopping and definately a tourist attraction and an everyday part of life in Boston.Problem with Nashville is "Crime

By: BADCOPS on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I have been to Savannah many time and yes their river place is a great place. I was there when they where filming In The Garden of Good and Evil and was shocked to see Kevin Spacey walking down the street near the Hyatt.Great shops. great restaurants and entertainment. Love the antique places also along the riverfront. One thing about Savannah I never felt threatened or unsafe while walking around like I do Nashville.If you are a party person try Savannah during St. Patricks day but book your hotels now. Not sure it they still turn the river green.

By: JeffF on 12/31/69 at 7:00

still more time, energy, money and resources for downtown while Bellevue and Antioch have to wait for private resources? Tsk, tsk, tsk. How about working to improve the places where people live instead bowing to the poor excuse of an industry that tourism will always be? The bar and hotel owners in downtown will never stop asking for the next new CIP item so why do we keep spending for them>

By: vchester on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I recently visited Savannah, Georgia and they have a market are along the river in the old part of town. This area was one of the best parts of the city and my visit.However, crime will deter anyone from visiting even the best city attractions. BC and CCT have it right. We will never have a good downtown environment until crime is greatly diminished. Even though I am a native of Nashville, I just do not go downtown anymore with my family for anything. It's not worth it.

By: BigPapa on 12/31/69 at 7:00

The scrap yard just needs to go. That is the worst image to put forth. People come in from out of town to go to a ball game, run the CMM, go to bowl game and what are they treated to--- garbage and homeless scum. We need to get rid of both, and fast.

By: mccullochd on 12/31/69 at 7:00

The scrap yard got $400 million to "clean-up" a few years back. I haven't seen any improvements so far, and probably won't.

By: WickedTribe on 12/31/69 at 7:00

The scrap yard definitely needs to go, asap. It's a total eyesore, especially when you're trying to sell views of the river with projects like Rolling Mill Hill.We also need a new theme park asap. The length of time since Opryland closed has been ludicrous.Could a theme park work there? I don't know but I don't think it would hurt. I don't consider a theme park to be an eyesore even with huge rides, as long as it had a lot of trees and greenery mixed in, like Opryland did. It would definitely be a huge boost to downtown hotels, etc.

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

JeffF,Tourism is one of the top 3 industry's in the city and brings in more erevenue than the music industry. Second if not for tourism and entertainmnet venues there would be no revitalization downtown at all. Sorry you aren't getting your sidewalks but the city needs to make money and a convention center will help them do that.

By: nashbeck on 12/31/69 at 7:00

thanks producer2, another great comment. You make great posts on Nashvillecharrette

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Thanks nashbeck, I wish more shared your sentiment!