NASHVILLE, TN – The Metro Council held a final reading and voting yesterday (Tuesday, September 18) on an ambitious re-zoning plan to transform midtown Nashville into a denser, more urban-like setting within the next few years.
The re-zoning will allow more construction and development closer to the streets, right up to the sidewalk or property line, making it friendlier to pedestrians and future mass-transit projects. The plan covers 455 acres, specifically the area defined by Charlotte Avenue on the north, West End Avenue and 21st Avenue to the south, Interstate 40 in the east, and Broadway.
“There's going to be an influx of people moving to Nashville,” Metro Councilwoman and rezoning sponsor Burkley Allen predicts. “If they can live where their work is located, then they don’t have to use their cars at all.”
The proposed zoning change is also meant to support the proposed East-West Connector rapid bus transit project, which would run from East Nashville’s Five Points area to Broadway and West End Avenue in West Nashville.
However, existing opposition to the proposed bus transit project has spilled over to this new zoning change, raising concerns that it will have a negative impact on the area’s historic buildings and traffic management.
“We need to find the optimal answer to the existing problems, with the right balance among historic preservation , topnotch design, and infill development.” cautions Councilman Jason Holleman, a representative of an area adjacent to midtown Nashville. “Midtown is one of the most culturally and economically valuable areas in the city. I think we have to consider these in all future development plans.”
Meanwhile, others say boosting midtown density should be planned separately from the proposed East-West Connector project.
“You can take the bus project from my vote,” says Allen Doty, co-owner of Cumberland Transit, an outdoor equipment store on West End Avenue. Doty’s business will lose on-street parking space if the East-West Connector project pushes through. However, he’d like to see an increase in midtown activity due to denser, pedestrian-friendly mixed-use developments. “I wouldn’t mind living down here,” he says.
Councilwoman Allen says she understands the concerns, and has worked with the plan’s co-sponsors to introduce amendments that would require an urban design overlay of the area, to ensure all new buildings are built to specific aesthetic standards. A reward system for keeping and maintaining historically-significant properties will also be put into place.
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