Come on down to The Curve

Wednesday, June 15, 2005 at 12:00am

Nashvillians are speaking - and they want "The Curve."

In last week's "Creating Places" column, readers were asked to vote on their choice for a name for the tiny commercial district where Belmont Boulevard and Portland Avenue fuse.

Longtime anchors of the strip include Belmont University, The Athlete's House, Circle K, Tabouli, Bongo Java and International Market and Restaurant.

At press time, 41 readers had voted on The City Paper Web site, with The Curve receiving 16 votes and Belmont Heights in second place with 11 tallies.

Now the question becomes: Will the name - or any other moniker - actually stick?

Poll Results

As noted previously, owners of the 15 businesses along the two-block stretch are not part of a merchant's association. With no membership dues from which to pay for them, "The Curve" banners or, perhaps, a freestanding sign may not materialize.

If banners are bought, the Metro Codes and Public Works departments would have to be consulted to oversee their placement. Keith Covington, director of the Metro Planning Department's Urban Design Studio, is on record saying he supports the naming effort.

Chris Tait, who co-owns the recently opened Mad Mod with Cyndi Collett, says The Curve is the type appellation that could be played upon effectively.

"I like that it's two words - like 'The Gulch,'" Tait says. "Ever since we moved here in February, [Cyndi and I] have thought of how we could market this as a 'new' area for retail and restaurants."

David Graeflin, owner of The Athlete's House, says the commercial node is well-known yet still "in nowhere-land."

"A name would help, and I like The Curve," Graeflin says.

Bongo Java coffee guru Bob Bernstein likes both The Curve and "The BelCurve."

"The right name that connotes the right attitude could help us market the area," Bernstein says.

Via e-mail, a number of readers have submitted suggestions directly to this writer, with "Belmont Bend" a popular offering. The alliteration is nice, but "bend" could connote a slow-moving river or rural road. Not exactly the type of image perhaps desired.

One reader e-mailed "The One-Two," playing on the last digits of the area's 37212 ZIP code and Belmont University's (and Nashville's) music emphasis.

A former Sterling Court Apartments resident and good friend cleverly submitted "Porte de Monte" (to recognize the curve at Portland and Belmont).

Another reader offered "Village South," given the district's location south of Hillsboro Village.

In addition to the voting, last week's column had elicited 25 written responses on The City Paper Web site as of this writing. With interest gaining momentum, we can expect more on this topic.

Updates to follow.

Good job, Belmont U.

Continuing the Belmont theme, Belmont University officials - and particularly President Robert "Bob" Fisher - deserve much praise for their design tastes regarding the recently unveiled Thrailkill Hall.

Everton Oglesby Architects has designed the $17 million residence facility, giving the structure a handsome and inviting look.

The building, to replace some outdated dorms within the residential complex known as Bruin Hills, will be another quality addition to the campus.

Similarly, the university had EOA design Kennedy Hall, another classy looking residence building that fronts 15th Avenue.

And the Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences & Nursing building (designed by Earl Swensson Associates Inc.), currently rising, will be a superb addition to both the B.U. campus and the Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood.

Dignified and urban in their design and function, the Inman building and Kennedy and Thrailkill halls will stand in stark contrast to two 1990s-era B.U. residential facilities: the hideous Hillside Apartments (which overlook 12th Avenue South) and Belmont Commons, part of whose backs awkwardly face Ashwood Avenue.

The Hillside buildings - stark, cold and suburban - loom over 12th with the dignity of a meatpacking plant. Built in two stages within the last 10 years, the Hillside buildings are disturbing examples of what can go wrong when universities don't consider how new construction will relate to the surrounding architectural context of a neighborhood.

Gated and generic, both the Hillside and Belmont Commons structures act like fortresses.

Good to see Thrailkill will not.

William Williams writes about Nashville's man-made environment. He can be contacted at wwilliams@nashvillecitypaper.com.

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