A group of community leaders from both sides of the May Town Center debate will meet Wednesday morning at Tennessee State University — seizing an opportunity to mend relationships put at odds over the $5 billion development debate.
The meeting, organized by Metro Councilmembers Jerry Maynard, Jason Holleman and Lonnell Matthews Jr., comes in the wake of news last week that the project's developer, Tony Giarratana, had removed his request to have the Planning Commission reconsider its earlier vote to not pass the required zone changes for the project.
The Wednesday meeting was called in order to open a dialogue about future collaborations between TSU and the West Nashville communities.
“There was some natural conflict between the goals of the West Nashville and Bells Bend neighborhoods and TSU because of the benefits that were being offered to TSU by the developers,” Holleman said. “Now that [the May Town proposal is off the table], we thought that it was a good opportunity for these two groups that had ended up on different sides of the issue to get together.”
Attending will be representatives from West Nashville communities, Bells Bend residents and TSU officials, including University President Melvin Johnson, according to Holleman.
After the May Town developers pledged a gift of a 200-acre agricultural center and research park for the project, Johnson became a vocal proponent of the project.
Mike Jameson and Emily Evans, two vocal Metro Council opponents to the project also are planning to attend. The meeting has no set agenda, according to Holleman, who said he only hopes to open the way for future collaboration.
“[May Town] was a really emotionally charged issue,” he said. “I think these are two groups that inherently have a lot in common and have a lot of the same interests, but just had different viewpoints on that one particular issue."