Discussions of future redevelopment on the east bank of the Cumberland River tend to center on the real estate potential of acreage south of LP Field, particularly near the PSC Metals processing plant.
But owners of a 120-acre swath of east bank industrial and commercial land north of the Jefferson Street Bridge –– which is also north of the downtown central business district –– are making a pitch to locate a new Nashville Sounds stadium there.
Last week, The City Paper obtained an aerial map that features a new ballpark –– accompanied by possible future ancillary mixed-use developments, a hotel and park space –– on the stretch of land north of the bridge and Spring Street, flanked by the Cumberland River on the west and Interstate 24 on the east. One notable current tenant of the area is Soundcheck Nashville on Cowan Street. Part of the land is in the river’s floodplain.
Chicago-based OKW Architects produced the site plans on behalf of three owners of separate properties that make up what developers are calling “North End.” Property owners are Monroe Investments Partners; LoJac Enterprises; and Cherokee Equity Corp.
“While we would need to work very closely with our current tenants to make sure their needs are fully met, we would welcome new development and the new ball park, if one is to be constructed,” said Don Allen, principal of Monroe Investments Partners, a Chicago-based real estate group that owns 60 acres of the land.
Jim Fyke, who works out of the Metro Finance Department, confirmed a copy of the map had been delivered to him. Fyke said he handed the sketches to Kansas City-based Populous, an architecture firm Metro has hired to objectively look at potential locations for a new ballpark. Sounds ownerships are hoping to replace dilapidated Greer Stadium.
Fyke, the point person on the site study from Metro’s end, said the map is the only map detailing a possible stadium scenario that developers have delivered to the city.
It could also be the only option for a Sounds stadium on the east bank, which failed to boom following the construction of LP Field in the late 1990s.
“It might by default be the only one because I’m not sure any of the others have been offered or are affordable,” Fyke said when asked if the North End is the only east bank site Metro is considering.
The east bank is one of six potential Sounds stadium sites Populous is studying, with the goal to recommend the optimal stadium location in November. In a recent story, The City Paper detailed the study, which is to also consider renovating the existing Greer.
Metro has opted not to reveal specific properties that the firm is analyzing. Nonetheless, some of the property owners are clear. For example, Metro owns the 11-acre former thermal plant site, which the Sounds covet for a new stadium. The state owns land north of the State Capitol that served as home of long-demolished Sulphur Dell, Nashville’s original ballpark.
Recently elected District 5 Metro Councilman Scott Davis, who represents the North End area, suggested a new ballpark could be a boon for the area.
“To be honest with you, I would love for the Sounds stadium to be built there,” Davis said. “It could be an economic engine for the people of the 5th district.”
Allen, the developer, said the east bank north of the Jefferson Street Bridge has some advantages over other sites, especially when it comes to ancillary development that a stadium could help spur.
“In the end while we understand that there are a number of really good locations being considered for the ball park, I doubt there is a site in the center of the city with so much potential for new development beyond just the construction of the ball park,” Allen said.
“The North End seems to us to provide a central location with great sight lines and interstate access, is located on Jefferson Street and has a massive potential upside for … [ancillary] projects that generate jobs, tax revenue and increase the city's tax base,” he added.
Fyke has stressed there are only two guarantees as Metro looks at potential stadium locations –– that a site is recommended and that Metro decides whether to move forward.
Before anything advances, he has said an agreement that protects the taxpayer must be reached with Sounds ownership.