Creating Places: No need to announce project unless it’s a go

Monday, June 23, 2008 at 2:59am
Nashville’s urban core continues to see infill but many developments proposed since 2000 have failed to materialize. Courtesy of Michael Davis

They say that Atlanta is the South’s most overbuilt market and Nashville is the most over-announced.

So true.

Since 2000, numerous urban infill developments slated for Nashville have fizzled.

The significance? Obviously, the setbacks frustrate “built environment nuts,” who would celebrate construction of a 500-foot-tall concrete slab.

But there is a greater concern. Developers are gaining a negative reputation for exaggerating their projects’ prospects. Increasingly, Nashvillians dismissively smile with the announcement of an overly ambitious project or a “ceremonial groundbreaking.”

Feeling this cynicism, developers disseminate press releases and renderings, assemble earnest sales/marketing teams to gauge public sentiment — then pray they don’t take a financial bloodbath.

Crosland Inc. regaled Nashville powerbrokers in June 2007 with a major groundbreaking event for Griffin Plaza in The Gulch. Battling a blisteringly hot day, loquacious then-Mayor Bill Purcell gamely delivered clichéd comments to a huge throng. A year later, no dirt has been moved as water connection fees, Crosland’s purchasing of adjacent property and a partnership with the Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund seemingly have delayed construction.

Last November, an official promoting upscale condo project The Avenues at Twenty-Fourth and Fairfax ensured a writer that construction was imminent. Today, the lot sits empty.

Remember the name Sonny Belew and his Symphony Tower?

Even the always-optimistic Village Real Estate Services has struggled to convince would-be buyers of the quality of various proposed developments.

The following projects, all new construction and announced (some via company Web sites) since 2000, have been scrapped, indefinitely sidetracked or slower to begin than desired/anticipated.

Multi-unit residential projects: Fourth & Jackson (Crosswinds), Harrison Lofts, Laurel, Meridian, Metropolitan 8, Monroe, The Avenues at Twenty-Fourth and Fairfax, The Chesterfield, The Manning, Symphony Tower/The SoBro, Treble Flats, West End Flats, 112 Harding Place and 6th & Garfield.

Mixed-use buildings, office buildings and hotels: Cumberland Yacht Harbor, Griffin Plaza, Lionstone Roundabout development, One Music Row, Regions center addition, Signature Tower, Sounds/Streuver Bros. complex, The H20 Urban Waterfront District, The Melrose, The Westin/Broadway Hotel, West End Summit, 5 East, 30North, 12th South Station, 1201 Demonbreun and 17th & Broadway.

Lastly, work remains as uncertain as Alec Baldwin’s ability to avoid self-implosion on these proposed civic structures: Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet School gymnasium, Tennessee State Library and Archives, Tennessee State Museum and The Museum of African-American Music Art & Culture.

That’s 34 projects. If one-third materialize, Nashville will be lucky.

Encouragingly, on-site work is underway on West End Station, 1700 Midtown, Hill Center at Belle Meade and Rolling Mill Hill’s The District. Similarly, construction should resume soon at the dormant Acropolis work site.

Nashville developers could take a cue from Haury & Smith. Known for suburban home designs more vanilla than Montgomery Gentry song lyrics, the company didn’t mess around with its Ten Ten on The Row. No press releases, silly groundbreaking ceremonies or unrealistic start dates.

Haury & Smith simply began building.

Too bad it doesn’t work that way every time.

William Williams is a citizen observer of Nashville’s manmade environment. Contact him at

Filed under: City Business
By: eastnashville37207 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

This would be marveolus if this actually goes through. Kudos to those who bought property in those neighborhoods such as McFerrin Park and Cleveland Park Neighborhoods. Your property value with soar. Those two neighborhoods aren't surrounded by projects like in the 5 points neighorhoods.

By: JeffF on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The MCC was inadvertently left off your list considering they are waiting for a council vote and financing arrangements before it can officially begin. A financing arrangement that includes General Obligation debt will then more-than-likely require a referendum.

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 6:00

If the MCC vaporized it would make my day!A referendum being required would accomplish that- which is why they are trying to avoid one.

By: airvols on 12/31/69 at 6:00

The thud you hear is the Signature Tower's ground breaking. Where is the update on the BIG BOY and is the project still a go?

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

JeffF and TFT,Sorry but no referendum. You could probably stop by anytime in the next couple of weeks and watch them do spme core drilling. It is already taking place. Go back to working on your Crafton "English Only" crap. It suits you better

By: JeffF on 12/31/69 at 6:00

core drilling smore drilling. The council will still have to approve the center and its financing three times starting sometime this fall and ending possibly very early 2009. You really should do some reading. May I suggest the Tennessean from Friday? Until then please pray everyday to whatever deity you choose that YOUR council does not decide to try to issue G.O. bonds because the following referendum/holdup will leave a bunch of holes in the ground from your core sampling. Obviously if they think they are going to sneak it by us they are dead wrong. We are waiting for the only chance the people of Nashville have in this process.

By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

They will name the architect tomorrow. It only takes one vote (you should do some reading) and it will be passed with flying colors.

By: Time for Truth on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Producer, you obviously only pay attention to your wallet and not much else. I can't speak for Jeff but I have been a consistent critic of both English First and Mr. Crafton. I am even the proud owner of a 'Crafton es un Tonto' bumper sticker.Thanks for revealing the fact that you have no respect for the democratic process, especially if it gets in the way of your profits as an EVENT PLANNER.

By: JeffF on 12/31/69 at 6:00

actually there is just one vote on the contracts, there is a three vote requiremet on the debt, which is why they will have to be really sneaky on the first vote in order to prevent petitions before the third vote. 1996 remember.