Mayor Karl Dean continued to stay out of the public debate on the proposed $4 billion May Town Center development, but said his vision for Nashville’s growth is centered around infill development downtown.
Asked if he was prepared to take a stance on the proposal to build a mixed-use business park, residential development in rural Bells Bend, Dean said last week “the process has got to complete itself.”
The mayor pointed out he has not weighed in on private development issues.
“If I was just picking how I’d want to see the city grow, it would be with existing infrastructure, commit ourselves pretty strong to downtown,” Dean said.
Dean said the 100 Oaks Mall redevelopment by Vanderbilt was an example of an infill development that successfully used existing infrastructure. He also pointed to plans for riverfront redevelopment and the current state fairgrounds site as opportunities for infill development.
“The proposal is a serious proposal and it deserves a chance to go through the process,” Dean said.
Asked whether his preference for infill development downtown should be interpreted as a cryptic way of saying May Town is a bad idea, Dean said that’s not the case. May Town Center would require expensive infrastructure improvements in rural Bells Bend, including a connecting bridge over the Cumberland River.
“I’m not trying to be cryptic,” Dean said. “The only reason people ask about May Town is because it’s so big. If you ask me philosophically the way I think the city should grow, I think downtown is important, you know, take advantage of the urban core. [There are] old malls that need to be re-used, [using] older areas that have existing infrastructure is how we should do it.
“I’m not saying I’m against it… let the process work.”
Chamber considers proposal
Dean isn’t the only one being asked to weigh in on May Town Center. The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce released a statement Monday saying it was forming a task force to develop a process and specific criteria for when it would weigh in on private development proposals.
The chamber said it had only made a practice of supporting certain public projects, but said the task force would determine when, if ever, a private development would be endorsed.
The Planning Commission will hear the second part of its continued public hearing and plans to vote on the proposal at its June 25 meeting. The zoning bill will be on first reading at Metro Council tonight.