Phil Martin calls the Printers Alley entertainment venues the “living rooms” of the famed district.
The surface of the well-traversed alley itself, then, serves as a combination patio/deck of sorts. And just like the outdoor spaces of our homes need occasional updates and maintenance, so too does the pavement that is as important to Printers Alley as the businesses themselves. In fact, the alley’s concrete surface had become so rough that high-heeled-shoe-wearing ladies were tripping as they strolled the stretch.
Last week, the Metro Public Works Department began repaving the alley, the first resurfacing of the walkway in more than 12 years. If all goes well, the department will complete the $125,000 project by the end of this week. At that point, the 550-foot-long and 12-foot-wide alley will both look more attractive and function more effectively.
“We’re extremely excited about it,” said Teresa Ross, owner of Printers Alley institution The Brass Stables Cigar Bar and Jockey Club.
Though improving the asphalt component of Printers Alley may seem ho-hum to many, the project is nonetheless part of what business owners operating from the quirky urban node hope becomes a trend of continued improvement.
Phil Martin, owner of Printers Alley live music venue Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar, said the paving could shed light on other alley needs, such as signage for the mini-district’s three oft-overlooked secondary entrances and better lighting. Martin said Metro officials have been very helpful in the effort to improve Printers Alley.
“The city in general has been extremely cooperative,” Martin said. “We’re hoping [Nashville Electric Service] and Public Works will work with us [on the lighting issue].
“A lot of times people say the city is the ‘no’ office,” he added. “We see Metro as saying, ‘We want to help.’ It’s been so welcoming to see that attitude.”
By 1900, Printers Alley was known as the home of various publishing and printing entities. More than 110 years later, its reinvention as a nightlife hub is solidified. And some new asphalt will further strengthen that identity.
— William Williams