Nashville creates progressive new plan for downtown growth

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 12:17am

A new progressive set of zoning guidelines known as the “Downtown Code” enjoyed definitive Metro Council approval Tuesday night, officially becoming Nashville’s new framework for future development in its urban core.

Inspired by the 2007 Downtown Community Plan, the Downtown Code bucks the prevailing method of basing zoning regulations on land use categories such as residential, commercial and industrial. Instead, the proposal embraces design-oriented standards — signage, proximity to the street and entrance and parking locations, for example.

Hailed by those in the urban design community, the Downtown Code moves “from a focus on use to a focus on form,” planners like to say. In other words, the function of a building is less important than how it interacts with its surrounding neighborhood.

Councilman Mike Jameson, who represents portions of downtown and co-sponsored legislation to adopt the code, called its passage “enormously significant” in changing the way Nashville’s downtown grows.

The long-awaited final version of the zoning plan — devised to facilitate more mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly pockets within downtown — arrived on first reading at the council in December following a two-year study and community outreach effort conducted by the Metro planning department.

Even before the department embarked on that study, planners had already found the existing downtown zoning system to be out of sync with recent downtown developments, including the Pinnacle at Symphony Place office tower and the Row 8.9 Lofts on Rosa Parks Boulevard. Both projects required exemptions from zoning requirements, hurdles now removed with the passage of the Downtown Code.

The designated area is outlined by Jefferson Street to the north, the interstate highway loop to the south and west, and the Cumberland River to the east.

In addition, the plan divides downtown into four general zones: the Gulch neighborhood along 12th Avenue, as well as north, south and central downtown. Planners who created the guidelines envision replicating the kind of mix-used development found in the 12South neighborhood, downtown Church Street and Broadway.

6 Comments on this post:

By: Sumsrent on 2/3/10 at 12:39

We wasted enough money redoing Church Street over four times. Lol...

Hopefully, you people can think better than the planning in the past and stick with it. You do have an astute vision... right?

By: sumtraveller on 2/3/10 at 7:36

Bravo on the passage. A lot of hard work went into this and for good reason, we're making progress. Nashville is a great place to live, and now that reality will be matched with design & form.

Congratulations on the passage and I look forward to its result.

By: BigPapa on 2/3/10 at 7:54

Yeah yeah yeah... this plan will be in place until when? A new idea comes along and the plan doesn't quite fit into it and then it totally scrapped. We've seen this before. How many design plans have there been for Main street, Jefferson Street, etc...?

That being said the main thing many areas of nashville need is a wrecking ball and a bull dozier. Nothing would be an improvement over what's there.

By: nashwatcher on 2/3/10 at 8:04

good stuff...there needs to be more vision concerning how our downtown develops!

since the code addresses how buildings interact with the surrounding area...what comes to mind, for me, is the NES substation and where it will be placed...

you want this thing either underground so it won't affect development(the most progressive option)...or hidden on a side street...

hopefully the spirit of planning that this code represents will be shown by the decisions of our elected leaders...

By: eastnashville37207 on 2/4/10 at 4:41

The fact that this is a progress/liberal plan should be a warning sign for the city. I'd have to keep my eyes and ears wide open and make sure to read the fine print.

By: eastnashville37207 on 2/4/10 at 4:42

Meant "Progessive/liberal"!