District 1 Metro Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr. plans to defer the May Town Center proposal indefinitely at the July 7 Metro Council meeting, so that details of the developers’ land transfer arrangement to Tennessee State University can be finalized.
Matthews confirmed his decision to The City Paper on Tuesday and sent a letter to Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors and his fellow Council members explaining the deferral.
“I do have a concern with the TSU land transfer. I want to know where they are in that process,” Matthews said.
May Town Center developers agreed to transfer 250 acres of land in rural Bells Bend to Tennessee State University for an agricultural research park. The developers also promised a $400,000 endowment for the school.
The research facility was proposed to be a part of a massive 520-acre, mixed-use corporate headquarters, residential and retail development for rural Bells Bend. That proposal took a hit last week, when the Metro Planning Commission voted to disapprove  the necessary proposed zone change.
That left May Town Center needing 27 votes on Council, which even Matthews admitted would be difficult to attain.
Matthews said he decided to defer the proposed zone change, instead of withdrawing, so that he can track the land transfer arrangement, which he said would take at least three months.
As for the May Town Center’s chances of becoming a reality, Matthews, who became a supporter of the proposal last month, sounded skeptical.
“I don’t see what changes the developers could make to make it more appealing to those who oppose it,” Matthews said.
District 23 Councilwoman Emily Evans, who opposed the development, said Council should still do its part to ensure TSU and the proposed May Town developers can complete the land transfer.