One week after his administration promised property taxes would not be used to finance the proposed new downtown Convention Center, Mayor Karl Dean appeared at a special Council meeting Monday to make the case for moving forward with the next stage of the project.
At Monday’s special meting, Dean called the proposed new $635 million Music City Center, to be located in SoBro, “a vital economic development tool for our city that our citizens won’t have to pay for, but will greatly benefit from — both during and after construction.”
District 26 Councilman Greg Adkins applauded the project and called it “Nashville’s own stimulus plan.” The project will create 3,000 construction jobs and another 1,000 service jobs once it is opened.
Convention Center advocates, including Dean’s administration, are pushing for Council to approve allocating $75 million in tourism taxes to begin land acquisition.
“This is an extremely complicated project and there are a lot of pieces that have to all fall together,” Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling said. “I think the feeling that all of us had is we do it incrementally but never take our sights off the goal, and the goal is to build this project.”
Project designs revealed
Architects revealed a design for the project, which includes a sustainable green roof and many elements recommended by citizens during the public input period of the last year.
Some Council members are worried that Metro might be putting the cart before the horse, should it approve land acquisition before the final financing for the project is in place.
At-large Councilman Jerry Maynard recommended dealing with the Metro budget and then addressing the land acquisition for Music City Center sometime in July. Riebeling cautioned against that move and stated there is still a timeline to be met in order for the convention center to be meet its Jan 1, 2013 opening date.
It was also announced the attached hotel would have a developer selected, by the Metro Development and Housing Agency, some time next month.
Butch Spyridon, president for the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, painted a rosy picture for booking the proposed new facility. Spyridon said 100,892 room nights have already been booked for the center, with the end goal of 1 million room nights before its opening.
Council will consider the legislation filed to move forward with the land acquisition at its April 21 meeting.