Creating Spaces: Lionstone should move forward

Monday, May 19, 2008 at 2:20am

Musica’s frolicking nudes are anything by joyous, as controversy brews.

The Lionstone Group wants to build condos, offices and a hotel adjacent to the statuary’s Music Row Roundabout home and on what currently is barren dirt.

Well, except for a tiny, non-descript building and some surrounding asphalt at 23 Music Circle E.

Music industry veteran Joy Ford owns the property. Though Lionstone reportedly has offered her an enticing $600,000, Ford declines to sell, almost defiantly. She is determined to continue operating the Country International Records business she and her late husband, Sherman, founded years ago.

Lionstone could elect to build its reportedly $100 million project engulfing Ford’s tiny sliver of land, but the Houston-based company, understandably, desires the parcel to maximize the project’s functionality, attractiveness and long-term financial viability.

The Metro Development and Housing Agency — aware the development could effectively link The Gulch, Midtown and Music Row — has stepped into the fray, ready to buy, via eminent domain, Ford’s property for fair market value, and then sell it to Lionstone.

But Ford is no more interested in selling than classy local newsman Bob Mueller is ready to update his old-school appearance.

Ford has some help. The Washington, D.C. -based Institute for Justice, attorneys for which argued the landmark eminent domain case Kelo v. New London before the U.S. Supreme Court, is assisting.

Because CIR has positively contributed to the city’s country music culture and provided fond family memories, there is a certain legacy to the building.

But, friends, Ford’s building ain’t no Union Station. Heck, it’s not even on architectural par with a gas station. How ugly? The façade has no windows. A chain-link fence topped with barbed wire surrounds the pitiful one-story structure and its brick is painted a drab brown.

In short, Ford’s property contributes to the vibrancy of the Roundabout, now a civic monument, no more than Taylor Swift songs broaden Nashville’s music industry image as one of artistic diversity and complexity.

Attempts to contact Ford failed. But it’s highly doubtful the hard-working businesswoman is interested in architecture, redevelopment and community planning.

Hypothetically, Lionstone could propose the most impressive and well-supported project in the history of Nashville — and Ford probably still would not run with the $600,000. Quality nearby projects such as Icon, Roundabout Plaza, Rhythm and Terrazzo likely mean little to this seasoned music industry professional, even though, interestingly, those developments have increased her property’s valuable.

No doubt, Ford is potentially hampering what could be a fine project.

Still, MDHA’s move is questionable. Any government, ideally, should use eminent domain ideally if 1. a property is a community health or safety hazard; or 2. the replacement project is civic/public in nature (for example, a museum, school, fire station, zoo, library, etc.).

More power to Ford for challenging Metro.

So what next?

Lionstone needs to politely say “no thanks” to MDHA’s offer and start construction. Even sans Ford’s property, the company could deliver a strong mixed-use development — and not have its reputation soiled because Metro Government stepped on an individual’s private property rights.

And if Lionstone constructs a massive wall surrounding Joy Ford’s property, rendering its future value all but worthless, that will be the price of progress.

William Williams is a citizen observer of Nashville’s manmade environment. Contact him at bill37206@nashvillecitypaper.com.

Filed under: City Business
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By: producer2 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Good job William!

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

Good article. Build the Lionstone project please!!

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

Come on! Does Nashville really need yet ANOTHER condo/office/hotel complex in an already congested yuppy, white bread area? Just because a developer wants to erect a building on a piece of dirt, doesn't mean it's a good idea. As it is, there are already too many condo/office bldgs being built that don't have the tenants. The 8th Ave Lofts only have 4 residents out of 32 lofts. Is the one under construction on Demonbreun fully contracted with tenants? No. MR would be better served with a public park or a 50ish room hotel w/underground parking to accommodate Music Row clients. Already, parking is a problem there and traffic can get really congested. City officials need to start thinking about Nashville's future and not the short term potential benefits of all these steel, ugly Walgreen-bricked style monoliths. Where's Nashville's "Design A City" team? If they do proceed with this venture, I truly hope it's an LEED building. That would at least be a positive.