With Aug. 2 looming, I recently e-mailed mayoral candidates David Briley, Bob Clement, Karl Dean, Buck Dozier, Kenneth Eaton and Howard Gentry (long-shot candidate Cheryl Tisdale could not be contacted) a questionnaire regarding Nashville’s built environment.
A summary of their responses follows:
Of the following privately developed buildings finished since 2003, which is your favorite?
A. 807 18th
B. Bristol on Broadway
C. Midtown Lofts
D. Roundabout Plaza
Briley and Eaton chose Roundabout Plaza, with the former noting the building is “architecturally more significant than any of the other buildings.” Agreed.
Clement, Dean and Gentry selected Viridian, as Gentry wrote Big V “adds character to the skyline.” Dozier tapped Bristol on Broadway, saying its exterior reminds him of New Orleans, “with a variety of colors and facades.”
What is urban Nashville’s single-most unsightly characteristic and how can the problem be rectified?
A. streets that lack proper sidewalk/curb/drainage networks
B. surface parking lots
C. a lack of building density
D. excessively tall business signs
E. generic buildings with uninspired design.
Gentry provided a characteristic I overlooked: unsightly overhead utilities.
Briley contended Metro needs a fast-track project approval, density bonuses for affordable/workforce housing and LEED certification, as well as a renewed commitment to city-financed parking.
Clement cited sidewalk/curb-lacking streets, while Dean listed surface parking lots.
Eaton and Dozier were vague in their responses.
Which area has the greatest long-term potential for dense, mixed-use development?
A. the East Bank
B. East Nashville/Five Points
C. Germantown/North Capitol
D. SoBro. (I purposely excluded The Gulch and Midtown)
Briley, Dozier and Gentry choose the East Bank.
Dozier expressed intrigue that an upscale office park on the site could offer an alternative to Cool Springs.
Dean and Eaton picked SoBro, while Clement did not specify.
What do you like most and least about the new Public Square/renovated Metro Courthouse?
Only Dozier and Gentry offered what they feel are the square’s design drawbacks. Gentry said the space is not particularly visible to pedestrians, while Dozier noted the facility’s tables and chairs are located on a bed of crushed stone, which “radiates heat.” Also, only Dozier mentioned the stately water fountains that are now operable.
Dean said the project “preserved and accentuated a beautiful iconic building.”
Briley, Clement, Eaton and Gentry emphasized the greenness of the square.
The Metro Public Works Department and MDHA are installing traditional streetlights in areas where there is no historical context. Your thoughts?
The candidates’ collective support of the use of these light fixtures disappointed me. “Antique-y looking” street lamps in, for example, the funky 12South district and on the utilitarian Woodland Street Bridge look, very simply, absurd.
For Nashville’s future buildings, would you prefer historic replica architecture or contemporary design?
As with his Roundabout Plaza choice, Briley showed design acumen and opted for contemporary.
Disappointingly, Clement, Dean, Dozier, Eaton and Gentry offered the cliché, “It depends on the area.”
Note to candidates not named Briley: Historic replica buildings rarely work unless they are of the same top-notch craftsmanship and materials used in the Schermerhorn Symphony Center or Main Library.
Based solely on architectural features, what is your favorite Nashville residential neighborhood?
Briley chose East End-Lockeland Springs. Clement and Eaton were general, selecting East Nashville and West End, respectively. Dean and Gentry prefer Germantown.
Dozier did not specify.
Do you support MDHA’s providing tax increment financing monies to private developers as an incentive?
All but Eaton (whose response was vague) essentially answered “yes.”
Which of the following Nashville icons would you least want to see leveled by a natural disaster?
A. the State Capitol
B. Hume-Fogg High School
C. the Customs House
D. Union Station
E. the L&C Tower
F. the Parthenon
G. the Ryman Auditorium
H. Jubilee Hall at Fisk University
I. the Downtown Presbyterian Church.
Briley (Downtown Presbyterian Church), Dozier (State Capitol) and Gentry (State Capitol) took a stance, while Clement, Dean and Eaton “punted,” declining to make a choice.
In what neighborhood do you live? Hypothetically, in what downtown building would you live?
A true urbanite, Eaton owns and lives in an historic building at Second Avenue and Church Street.
Briley and his family live in Inglewood and have purchased an ICON in The Gulch unit.
Clement lives in Forest Hills and likes The Kress, in which his daughter and
Dean makes his home in Green Hills and would opt for Lower Second Avenue.
Dozier is a long-time Madison resident who would consider Signature Tower.
Gentry lives in Northwest Nashville/College Hills and would prefer Viridian.
William Williams writes about Nashville’s manmade
environment. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org