Five firms place bids to design future fairgrounds park

Friday, January 21, 2011 at 1:09am

Five architectural/engineering firms have formally placed bids to begin the design and planning process of Metro’s proposed fairgrounds park.

According to Richard Duncan, lead contract specialist of the Metro Finance Department, the five firms are Carol R. Johnson Associates Inc.; EDGE Planning, Landscape Architecture and Graphic Design; Gresham, Smith and Partners; Hawkins Partners Inc.; and Lose & Associates Inc.

Metro issued a request for proposals for the park on Dec. 15, with proposals having been due Jan 14. Metro is expected to award the contract in February.

In the fall, the Metro Council unanimously approved Mayor Karl Dean’s capital spending plan, which set aside $2 million to begin the design and architecture phase of the park. The 40-acre park is to go on land that falls within the city’s floodplain.

The company chosen for the job would be tasked with creating a park master plan, drafting construction documents, facilitating public input, producing cost estimates for development recommendations and working with all relevant agencies.

Metro’s request for proposals had described the fairgrounds racetrack in past tense, calling it “a former racetrack,” an assumption that it would be demolished.

But with the council’s decision earlier this week to spare the racetrack for the time being, it appears the construction of the park may have to move forward with the speedway still intact.

Nashville-based Gresham, Smith and Partners, one of the five bidders, recently assisted in the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s study that found redeveloping the fairgrounds to accommodate a corporate tenant could produce 6,500 jobs and $2.5 billion in economic impact.

34 Comments on this post:

By: Loner on 1/21/11 at 5:41

Hold it!

This is the equivalent of the "bum's rush". Mayor Dean is going ahead with his controversial plans, regardless of what the public may think or do. Why the hasty rush to award contracts and get the dirt moving? There is no need for haste and waste; this is the time to stop and think. Maybe a recall petition to rid yourselves of this tone-deaf mayor is in order...organize!

NFL Analogy: Quarterback Dean and his special interest cronies and athletic supporters are trying an "end around" move've got to tackle the ball carrier for a loss - or he could go all the way.

By: govskeptic on 1/21/11 at 6:20

It would be interesting to know what guidelines these firms were
given to go by or included in the designs that will be offered. I'm
not speaking of those in the formal request, but those that were
whispered outside the formal requested guidelines! The answer
will surely be shown when the "best one" is selected by the

By: HokeyPokey on 1/21/11 at 7:27

While I tend to agree that better use can be put to the fairgrounds than their current role, I certainly can sympathize with writers who feel otherwise.

It's like watching the New Republican House doing "what the people want," and "what the voters demanded."


By: hottrodd on 1/21/11 at 8:12

voice of nashvie that karl dean refuses to hear


By: racinmom on 1/21/11 at 10:12

For those interested in Designing Nashville's New Fairgrounds Park Please don't forget to include OUR RACETRACK. I think a new Fairpark along with the Race track could be one of the best tourist attractions for Nashville. But only if the Track is included in these plans. This is a Historical RaceTrack for those of you who are not into Racing. How long has this Track been there? How many Nascar Drivers got their start at Fairgrounds Speedway? This is a sport just like Hockey, Football, Basketball and truly I don't care for any of these other sports myself. Racing is alot more exciting. Even our children would rather come to the Race Track than go to a Predator or Titan Game. Why? It is more Family Oriented. They Love the excitement, the drivers and watching them Race. I can show you pictures, videos where the stands and the pits are packed. Children in line to visit their favorite driver, for Autographs and Signature Cards or waiting in line to get their picture taken with there favorite driver. Our Race Car Drivers are a positive influence for our children. Please leave our RACETRACK for our Grandchildren!! Mr. Dean have you ever been to a Race at our Fargrounds Speedway? Probably not your cup of tea. I bet golf is your sport. LOL How exciting.

By: las04 on 1/21/11 at 10:47


By: localboy on 1/21/11 at 10:48

The plot thickens...

By: pswindle on 1/21/11 at 11:53

Why does Dean not get it? We want the race track and the fair along with all of the other activities that the fairgrounds offer. If the race track leaves Nshville, some other county will get, and their goes the profit. Dean, listen to the race car pros they know how to save the race track for profit.

By: hottrodd on 1/21/11 at 12:07

voice of nashvie that karl dean refuses to hear

dean is an idiot hes not oing to listen to no one but his over sizes ego self !

By: Dancer2010 on 1/21/11 at 12:11

Hold it! The Fairground design including the Park must go through
the Board and to date the bill is still in the process and no bids or
submissions should be accepted. The past RFP should have been
on hold with a new released or extended date once the process of
any Council approval. The RFP in and of itself was invalid by
going out before approved. Therefore, all must be put on hold
until the process is complete, which will take some time and
probably will not be ready for such until about 4 to 6 months.
Thought Dean wanted to follow the process and channel according to his comments in the media. This call certainly does not appear to be.

By: MAmom on 1/21/11 at 12:13

The story is in the NYTImes. The writer tried to be fair - but the situation is complicated - and impossible to explain it in one article.

In the story Colby Sledge said: "I feel like it's a David and Goliath thing." But later he acknowledged, "everybody claims they're David."

The Mayor and his employees, the Chamber of Commerce, SNAP, the local Realtors organization, the Tennessean, and the Fair Board VERSUS
people who use the Fairgrounds (the public, racers, Flea Market & Expo vendors).

Who is David?

By: TITAN1 on 1/21/11 at 12:17

Here are the five firms.

Karl Dean Enterprises
Karl Dean, Inc.
Karl Dean, LLC.
Karl Dean and Co.
Karl Dean DBA I'll do anything I damn well please!

By: hottrodd on 1/21/11 at 12:30

voice of nashvie that karl dean refuses to hear


By: whatsit2u on 1/21/11 at 12:31

I would like to see something like Fair Park included. I believe that the demise of the park was greatly influenced by Opryland. That influence is gone.

By: Loner on 1/21/11 at 12:44

So, an historic racetrack in Nashville has a noise problem? Or so say some.

The track started out as a harness-racing track and it could revert to that quieter type of racing...or not.

The howl of reciprocating internal-combustion engines is music to some ears and irritating noise to others. It's impossible to please everyone all the time.

Here's an idea: The IHPVA holds sanctioned HPV races....they are entertaining, informative and thought-provoking.....HPV stands for Human Powered Vehicles. Some streamlined HPV's are exceeding 60 fuel, no noise and there's nothing like it. Maybe Nashville's short track would lend itself to hosting such an event....just sayin'.

By: Loner on 1/21/11 at 12:51

Here is a link to the IHPVA web page:

HPV's wed athletics with science and technology, the resulting product is something to behold. This is not "bicycle racing", this is well-beyond that. Check it out.

By: RTungsten on 1/21/11 at 1:29

I find it funny how so many people are up in arms over this racetrack. I'll be the first to admit I'm not a racing history buff, but when I look at some of the structures that have been torn down that are REAL icons in sorts history, this racetrack isn't one of them.

For example, look at the giant hole next to the "new" Yankee Stadium in New York. You mean to tell me that the Nashville Fair Grounds holds more history than the original Yankee Stadium? I beg to differ. And do you know what they are putting in the old Yankee Stadium lot? You guessed it, a park.

By: spooky24 on 1/21/11 at 2:03

I'm still in the middle on this-much can be said for both points of view. I used to love Fair Park as a kid. Due to changes in society I really doubt that would never work again-How many parents are going to let their kids run around all day at Fair Park by themselves-like we did in the late 60's and 70's. None
If they demolish the track then there is no going back-surely, they can at least try a season with some management that is able and not crooks


By: MAmom on 1/21/11 at 2:43

It's not just about the track! Me and many others are Flea Market and Expo fans.

The racing community started fighting Dean before the rest of us - because they noticed what was happening first. Also, they are a more cohesive group than Flea Market vendors who only see each once a month.

Flea Market fans need to know that - despite recent claims to the contrary - Dean has said several times publicly that he doesn't want the city in the "flea market" business. Death of the track will ultimately lead to death of the flea market, etc.

The Fairgrounds is an "enterprise" asset. Metro DOES NOT pay for it's operations. It is self-supporting. According to a Fair Board study done approx. 1.5 years ago, it has a multi-million dollar positive effect to the local economy. So it is free for the City & good for the local economy. It just doesn't provide great revenues to Metro - but it never was intended to.

If the racetrack are demolished, the Flea Market and Expo part of the Fairgrounds will fail. That's why Dean is going after the various activities separately (the flea market last fall, the racetrack now).

The Fairgrounds are a unique commons area for Nashville. It's the relationship of people and place that make it special & near irreplaceable. Places like this will become more rare & more special as time goes on.

Protect the Fairgrounds from DEAN-style "redevelopment".
Save the Fairgrounds.
Make Dean a 1-term Mayor.

By: nashtnman on 1/21/11 at 2:53

Here again our crooked mayor is ignoring both the city council and the people that elected him because HE thinks it is a good thing.


He lies, cheats and spends tax payer money at will while ignoring the people of this city. He is spending money on a project put on hold by the city council.


By: MocMewn on 1/21/11 at 3:17

Does anyone want to bet me that Gresham, Smith and Partners will get the park bid? They have already told His Royal Highness what he wants to hear.....corporate tenant. Just more of that hemroid's dirty deeds. I almost miss Bill Boner as mayor.

By: BigPapa on 1/21/11 at 3:23

You can't fight City Hall. I know all of you are all worked up, but Dean will win this battle -eventually. He has resources, and he has time. Eventually the supporters will dwindle away and this will be approved and the track will be demolished.

By: NewYorker1 on 1/21/11 at 3:56

WOW!!! There are people that actually want to watch cars drive around in a big circle? Sounds like a lot of fun. Watching paint dry sounds like the equivalent. Why can't they just go stand on one of the interstate overpasses and watch the cars going by? Come on people, this is such a stupid sport, if it's even called a sport. Demolish the track and build some corporate offices and some places for me to shop.

By: RTungsten on 1/21/11 at 4:24

Can you justify how the removal of a racetrack will affect the Expo center and Flea Market? It's not like one event feeds visitors into the other. The only "downside" I can see is more parking for the Flea Market. Granted, NASCAR fans do love a good Flea Market, but they will come regardless if there is a track or not.

By: Carol Williams on 1/21/11 at 5:13

On another an advocate of Metro Parks, especially Shelby Park and East Park. I watch park employees work diligently under years of budget cuts. Another park calls for Metro Council to see that park maintenance is adequately funded for the entire city.

By: MAmom on 1/21/11 at 5:18

RTungsten, Thanks for asking.

It has to do with the Fairgrounds classification as an "enterprise" asset. These assets have to support themselves. They cost taxpayers nothing.

The Fairgrounds are run by the Fair Board. Fair Board members are appointed by the Mayor, then approved by the Council.

An ex-Fair Board member explained the financial situation to me this way. The Fairgrounds property is like a 3-legged stool. If you cut off any of the legs (racetrack, flea market, or expo) - it will fall. When my friend worked there, the Fairgrounds were profitable. So profitable there was even a sizeable reserve on the Balance Sheet when he left.

In recent years there has been poor governance of the Fairgrounds. From neglect of the property to exceptionally bad operations management by the Fair Board. This has resulted in revenues being way down. Here are some things they've done to depress revenues:
(1) Race requests have been denied.
(2) The very profitable State Fair event was leased to Rockhouse Properties. Rockhouse paid a relatively amount to lease the property - even used the official logo & Fairgrounds equipment - and kept the net revenues from the event (vs. these monies going to the Fairgrounds).
(3) Without consent of the Council, the Fair Board and Dean have been chasing away business by threatening to close operations there.
(4) People are confused, too. They're not sure whether the Fairgrounds are open or closed since Dean keeps saying the grounds are closing.

The Fairgrounds have also had to bear legal expenses related to Fairgrounds closure incurred by Dean etal.

The Markin report has been used to justify Dean's "redevelopment" scheme. Actually the report contains 2 options. Option 1 was to stay at the Fairgrounds but run it professionally because it had been managed so badly over time. Option 2 was to find a bigger, better site for the State Fair - then use the present property for redevelopment.

Dean has gone straight to "redevelopment" before finding a bigger, better State Fair property for the activities now held there.
This is flea market weekend. Savemyfairgrounds should have a table set up there. If you would like to talk to someone about specifics, I'm sure they could get you in touch with people who know more.

Also, more info at these websites: &

By: fair_minded on 1/21/11 at 5:36

The REAL problem?? The mayor is not listening nor responding to the public. Today's headline is a good example-- it looks like the mayor's office is still going ahead with proposal requests for his park, when council has already voted to develop a master plan for the Fairgrounds. Will the mayor not abide by the vote of the Metro Council? The proposal process should be stopped until *AFTER* we have a master plan in place, developed by a new Fair Board of Commissioners.

By: MAmom on 1/21/11 at 7:16

Typos in my post (above) are corrected here:

(2) The very profitable State Fair event was leased to Rockhouse PARTNERS (not Properties). Rockhouse and their strategic partners paid a relatively SMALL amount to lease the property - used the official logo & Fairgrounds equipment - and kept the net revenues from the event (vs. these monies going to the Fairgrounds).

By: Vandyville16 on 1/21/11 at 8:09

I live in the Melrose area and and have lived here most of my life.Most of the time anyone hears the race cars is mainly in the summer and that's all.
No one ever made a bad what to do about the noise before.So why now?Guess the old neighborhood didn't mind it either,besides it's only at this time,not all of the time like everyone is making it out to be.
Now,if the race track is bull dozed and there's a so called park put in it's place.Is there going to be a fee to come into the park?Don't see that making a nice some of money to keep it going either.
They'll wind up and put office buildings there,I don't trust these people.
It will be like it was when the developers said they weren't going to tear down the old church on Douglas Ave.
Well they did and now there's condo's there.And because of it,it caused every ones property tax to go up n that area.So if people know what's good for them,they should keep the racetrack ,because later they will be wishing they did.
Keep the race track and just use quite the mufflers on the race cars,then the ones who don't like the so called noise will maybe be happier!

By: woodbineman on 1/21/11 at 9:35

Atleast the bid will be cheaper on the park.Karls plan has the racetrack in the flood zone and the fema map dont .Should be somewhat less if the park is to fill the flood zone.Karl if it is cheaper save that money instead of blowing every dime the tax payers have.

By: jwd88 on 1/22/11 at 7:01

this article is about bids on a park.. As we found out in the council meeting it will be at least two years before anything is done to the property. The fairboard and metro parks will be discussing possibilities of a master plan WITH the publics input. We all will have a seat at that table. A park will more than likely be built. the question is where and how big. I not even sure if it was aproved for the 40 acres that everybody is talking about. and it would definitly not be where the racetrack is located. This will be a long process. According to Buck Dozier, during this two year master plan peroid, this facility has to make money. I believe that the track will be open for this two year peroid, as they will want to have the money it can generate. WE as fairgrounds supporters need to stick together, We NEED TO STOP all the negative and rude comments.Or we are no better than they are. Anti fairgrounds supporters can and say whatever they want... WE need to set an example of civility, and positive thinking or all this will come back to bite us later in the process. The administration wants us fighting with each other, The administration has pitted the neighbors against the fairgrounds supporters from the beginning. I believe we can pull together with the neighbors and come to an agreement. I am telling you for the sake of the fairgrounds WE MUST MEET IN THE MIDDLE and discuss the possibilities to make the fairgrounds better for the neighbors, for the flea market vendors, for the expo events, for the race track, and MOST IMPORTANT, for the people who attend all the events every year, Lets stop this insanity, pull together, and get the job done that we set out to do more that 1 1/2 years ago. BUT, lets do it the right....

By: MAmom on 1/22/11 at 10:42

100% correct - we need to keep the discourse civil.

Sometimes the other side intentionally puts insulting or baiting comments out there - to distract the discussion from the facts. Don't fall for this tactic.

Fairgrounds supporters, take the moral high ground. When an incorrect or stupid comment is made, confront it with FACTS, name-calling isn't helpful.

We especially must support the Fairgrounds during the decision period. According to Buck Dozier, during this two year master plan peroid, this facility has to make money.

This is FLEA MARKET Weekend. Let's all go out and support the Flea Market vendors!

By: sold-it on 1/22/11 at 11:38

Well Buck Dozier, How does a park make money, are you going to charge people admission? The only ones that'll be making money, will be the Gangs of Nashville, that use this for thier fund raising. Why doesn't this mayor do something about the Gangs in Nasville. I know, because they're not in Belle Meade. Who do you think will carry thier kids to a park there, especially after dark? Would you? What Nashville needs is a new mayor, one that's the mayor of all of Nashville, not just Belle Meade and Bellvue. Why not just put all this on hold until this mayor is gone? One person and his stupid ideas shouldn't be allowed to go against the people's wishes, just because he wants to satisfy some hopefully big donors for his political ambitions. Nashville can't afford him

By: sold-it on 1/22/11 at 12:17

Continuation of my previous post. They say the Fairgrounds doesn't make any money, and it makes me wonder why. From the Fair and it's parking, the Flea Market and it's parking, plus the racetrack, the rental of the buildings, (There's something going on at the Fairgrounds all the time). How much are the Board members paid to run something that they're not seeing to it that it makes money. Either the Fairgrounds needs different negotiators, or something. Maybe the Fair Board member's pay should be based on a commission structure based on what it takes in. Do you think it would all of a sudden start making money. It appears they give operators very inexpensive leases, or take a percentage that's way out of line, as far as what they're getting for the money. Maybe someone would conduct a very precise audit, and show where every dime comes from, in detail, and where all the money goes, also in detail. I'd like to have the parking. There's no telling what that makes per year. But Nashville has a habit of using the property it owns, and just giving it to somebody's friend. Let's see if we can track the money. I bet it can make money, I know some farmers that would pay a pretty good price to run cows on it.