Local firm to bring dilapidated building into 21st century

Tuesday, March 9, 2010 at 7:44pm

Nashville-based Hastings Architects Associates has been hired to oversee renovation of the old NABRICO building on the east bank of the Cumberland River, a restoration project that’s tied to the long-term plan to redevelop Nashville’s riverfront.

Out of 20 architecture firms that applied, the Metro Development and Housing Agency on Tuesday approved a $396,500 contract with Hastings, which has been tasked with leading architecture and engineering efforts to refurbish a now-vacant structure that housed the Nashville Bridge Company until 1998.

“We’re basically taking a shell of a dilapidated building and bringing it back into the 21st century as a viable structure” said Ed Owens, waterfront redevelopment coordinator for MDHA.

Restoring the NABRICO building — situated between the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge and the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge, and eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places — has been pegged to coincide with the $8.5 million construction of a new “Adventure Play Park” in the same area, a task led by the architecture firm Hargreaves Associates.

Both are key to the first installment of Nashville’s Riverfront Redevelopment Project, a bold 20-year plan to transform the Cumberland’s east and west banks through expanded parks, trails, water recreation and environmental preservation, among other things. Mayor Karl Dean set aside $30 million in last year’s capital spending budget to jump-start the long-awaited riverfront revitalization.

“It is a historically eligible building, so that will be part of the design process,” Owens said of the NABRICO restoration. “We’ll be working very close with our historic folks in finding the right aesthetics and character.”

Beyond the design element, project leaders hope to ultimately find a public function for the NABRICO building. Possibilities could include retail, office or recreational uses. Previously, Mayor Karl Dean has suggested turning the building into an educational facility.

“First you’ve got to design it and then bid it out,” said MDHA Executive Director Phil Ryan. “There’s a lot of time to figure out tenants as we go forward.”

For now, leaders are zeroing in on the first floor, with plans to activate it in accordance with the adjacent water park. Some of the first-floor space will be devoted to public restrooms, while Metro parks employees are expected to work out of other areas.

The plan is to begin the NABRICO building restoration by fall, and have it completed by the summer of 2011.