Construction on convention center to begin Monday

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 5:32pm

The nine-member Convention Center Authority Thursday authorized $16.9 million to be allocated to the initial four-month phase of construction related to Music City Center, an incremental approach likely to include the first demolition of a building inside the project’s footprint by Monday.

Some structures that sit atop the project’s 16 SoBro acres have already been abated, according to project manager Larry Atema, with concrete fencing now lining much of the perimeter around the future 1.2 million-square-foot facility.

“Work officially has begun on Music City Center,” Atema said. “We’re sort of done talking and we’ve started working.”

Though the final price tag attached to Nashville’s new convention center is projected at $585 million, the authority’s chair Marty Dickens said construction financing and contracting would be authorized incrementally. Predevelopment work for Music City Center totaled approximately $25 million.

A joint construction team that consists of Nashville-based Bell & Associates and Clark Construction Group, headquartered in Bethesda, Md., is leading the massive three-year undertaking.

The authority’s vote on Thursday should take construction to May, with the $16.9 million paying for the convention center’s building permit, removing existing utilities from the site, demolishing buildings that stand in the project’s way and dismantling a tunnel that feeds into the truck-access area of the adjacent Sommet Center.

All initial steps are necessary for the eventual $20 million relocation of a Nashville Electric Service substation — which currently blocks the future entranceway of Music City Center — to a new location near Peabody Street where Rocketown is situated.

The convention center’s finance plan, approved by the Metro Council last month, calls for the sale of two separate series of bonds to be underwritten by Goldman Sachs, a Wall Street holding company that is to re-sell the bonds to investors. According to Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling, bond financing should begin to be closed by the end of March.

As for the combination of taxes and fees used to pay off those bonds, Charles Starks, executive director of the Nashville Convention Center, said projections — even with the sagging hotel market — are right on target, with the hotel-motel tax and other fees averaging more than $2 million in monthly funds that will start going directly to Music City Center by July 1.

“The real good news for us is that we’re right where we thought we would be,” Starks said. “It’s certainly not any different than what we anticipated it would be, and frankly, the last couple of months have been a little better than we thought they would be.”

The authority Thursday also officially signed off on a procurement policy to ensure contracting for work related to Music City Center has at least 20 percent participation from small business or those owned by women or minorities.

Though the policy doesn’t explicitly mandate that local businesses form Music City Center’s workforce, authority members vowed to ensure sufficient local participation to make the project Nashville’s “economic stimulus.”

Adding some structure to the Convention Center Authority moving forward, members established four separate committees that deal with: finance and auditing; diversity inclusion and procurement; marketing and operations; and construction and envelopment.

10 Comments on this post:

By: idgaf on 2/5/10 at 3:17

Where are the details of the financing?

If they don't have them why are they starting and how are they going to pay for it?

It is my understanding that if they are General Obligation bonds we have to vote/approve them.

This whole deal smells. Really bad.

If the bonds don't sell THEN WHAT after we are spending all this money?

Come on isn't there one attorney in this town that will stand up for "We the People"?

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/5/10 at 8:34

i can't believe how fast this is moving does smell funny.

By: NewYorker1 on 2/5/10 at 9:23

Why are they starting construction and all of the land they need hasn't been purchased yet and still in court?

By: Kosh III on 2/5/10 at 10:03

C'mon folks, it's moving fast because Dean has been ready to move on this since day one. It was a foregone conclusion.

Besides, we need to hurry so that all those millions of tourists with their billions of dollars can flood the city so the new millenium can begin.

By: producer2 on 2/5/10 at 1:02

What should they wait for. It is approved and as of today they own all but 1 piece of land which will change on the 12th.

By: MusicCity615 on 2/5/10 at 3:03

Idgaf. Kosh, JeffF

No one can post a comment right now on Dean's Overhaul of the Transportation System, but I just want to say how much I disagree with you.

Kosh, yes we need more buses.
JeffF- Great point in that we need to connect ALL areas of the city.


More buses need to connect to a light rail system that connects people to ALL over the city.

People complained in DC, Charlotte, Portland,etc. when they were implementing their lightrail, but now those cities have definitely improved economically because of their transportation systems.

A city not to investment in alternative transportation systems when our only mode of transportation right now is dependent on a FINITE RESOURCE is absolutely absurd and insane.

CityProgress- thank you for the great points. Our carbon footprint speaks for itself.

Idgaf- don't give me that MusicCityStar stat. That's bs. It wasn't built because of necessity, it was built because it was cheap. Please learn the differences between heavy and lightrail.

Dean wants to implement light rail within Davidson County which is DESPERATELY needed. 40,000 people work downtown. We have Vanderbilt, Belmont, TSU, Lipscomb; we have VUMC, Baptist, Meharry, St. Thomas, Centennial; we have the Titans stadium holding 70k people, the Sommet Center holding 17k people 41 times a year, a new convention center, hopefully a new medical mart.


By: Magnum on 2/5/10 at 5:04

MusicCity, with regard to the Music City Star, you might want to rethink your definition of cheap. Let me help you get started in your much does that bad boy lose per year?

Having said that, there needs to be vast improvement on the mass transit infrastructure once in the city. No one will use mass transit to get into the city, if they can't get to their final destination outside the city. Furthermore, even if they could get to the Maryland Farms of the world via mass transit, they couldn't get back to say Metro Center for a late afternoon meeting. No mass transit will work, until the resolution of these issues are part of the plan.

By: MusicCity615 on 2/5/10 at 5:16


MusicCityStar was the cheapest to build. It is not in the black because of what you and I agree on- there is no mass transit within our City right now. We build an efficient light rail system and improve our busing system, MusicCityStar ridership will definitely improve.

By: idgaf on 2/6/10 at 8:59

The star and other forms of commuter service won't work here because we don't have the voluem of people working downtown to support it.

At least with buses if a route don't work you can move them with rail you can't and its like a welfare program once you have it you cannot take it away no matter how much money you lose operating it.

Private companies should be involved to cut costs. Service without the cost to the taxpayers are the best kind.

This county is to big with the DT area to small to support your pipe dreams with the pipes made from pure gold. No matter how many routes you put in people won't use it because where they want to go there is no service.

The Star should have been a lesson learned loud and clear. For those that have been around for awhile you know that the actual usage is even lower then I predicted.

Before you throw your money away on light rail test the routes with buses. One you lay it the money is gone. At least with buses you can move them or sell them to recover some of your money.

Look at how many people are using express buses now and that gives you a pretty good idea of the ridership of light rail.

What you people want will make the MCC (a billion dollars) seem like chump change and we don't hve the population to support the operating loss never mind build it.

By: MusicCity615 on 2/6/10 at 10:10

that's one of the whole reasons why buses are a bad investment for the city. Their lines are NOT permanent, therefore developers do not have as much of an incentive to develop mixed used projects around the routes.

I agree- Private money should be used to cut costs.

We have 40,000 people working downtown. We have FOUR Universities in the downtown area. We have FIVE hospitals within the downtown/midtown area. We have TWO professional sports teams with their stadiums/arenas downtown. We have a new MCC downtown.

That is a great start and reason to build and invest in lightrail for Davidson County.

When have roads ever had a return on investment? Investments are also planning for the future, like when oil is becoming more and more finite.