The proposed Omni hotel that’s supposed to anchor Nashville’s new Music City Center may not be physically connected to it.
Architects from Dallas-based HKS Inc., charged with designing the $287 million hotel, have presented preliminary conceptual designs of a sky bridge that would cross Fifth Avenue South, connecting the 260-foot-tall hotel with the new center on the hotel’s fourth floor. Without the bridge, the street would separate the two structures.
But Omni and Metro officials still haven’t decided whether the sky bridge is in the project’s best interests. There’s also the question of which party — Omni or the city — would pay for the projected $5 million to $15 million sky bridge, or how the cost would be divvied up.
“It really gets down to cost and whether it’s really necessary,” said Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling. “I go back and forth on it.”
During a special information session last week, At-large Councilman Charlie Tygard questioned the wisdom of not providing direct access between the hotel and the center. He said the absence of a connector could become an issue when conventioneers — perhaps as many as 1,000 at any given time — try to cross Fifth Avenue from one venue to the other.
“I personally think it is very critical,” Tygard said. “On an afternoon in a driving rainstorm, if I’m a conventioneer, I don’t want to cross back and forth.”
But Omni executives, Metro officials and Nashville’s convention center brass contend that a connector isn’t a prerequisite. Charles Starks, executive director of the existing convention center, said most convention planners are accustomed to booking events at centers that lack a physical connection with a hotel.
Mike Garcia, Omni’s senior vice president of development, said a recently constructed Omni hotel that anchors
the convention center in Fort Worth, Texas, lacks a connector between the two structures. “It hasn’t been a huge issue there,” he said.
Garcia added that the project managers are keeping the sky bridge an option. He said If Omni and Metro decide during construction that the sky bridge is needed, then the two facilities could still accommodate one.