Sunday, February 20, 2005

5th Avenue of the Arts

In the past week, there’s been a good deal of focus on and debate about the plans for the new Demonbreun Street viaduct, for the continuing re-development of the Gulch underneath the viaduct, and for the "5th Avenue of the Arts." I want to tease out one factoid from last week’s Nashville City Paper.

Brokers with Southeast Venture LLC are planning to build a “Plaza for the Arts,” which would include 300,000 sq. ft. of office space, a suite-type hotel, and an 80,000 sq. ft. residential building on about 3 acres of land. One of the developers was quoted as saying, "There are tremendous things happening. [Demonbreun from Downtown to Music Row] is truly becoming an 'avenue of the arts.'"

The Demonbreun artery from the Country Music Hall of Fame to Music Row is a testimonial to the power of that industry in Nashville’s economy, but the original plan, according to the company that completed the feasibility study was to “broaden the cultural vision” of the city beyond the country music industry (click HERE to see the Cultural District Master plan for 5th Avenue of the Arts).

I hope that the plans for the new Cultural District are more than just rationalizing further development of the Demonbreun artery. If this is a serious attempt to broaden Nashville’s cultural vision, then more attention needs to be focused on the 5th Ave. artery all of the way past Bicentennial Mall to Salemtown. Building more hotel and office space to capitalize off of the music industry’s success will do nothing to broaden our collective vision. In fact any art that goes up around new hotels and residential high rises is more likely to be secured within gates. Hence it will be a lot more private than public.

To the contrary, putting public art along the Downtown thoroughfare on 5th and creating a cultural campus around Bicentennial Mall provides greater opportunities for cultural expansion than does Demonbreun development. Jefferson Street, which borders the north side of the Mall, has a cultural and artistic history at least as rich as Music Row’s, if not more so.

The Civic Design Center also commissioned a report in 2002 that called for expansion of 5th Avenue of the Arts north of Jefferson into Salemtown. Plans for 5th Avenue included street mosaics by students and a series of small public parks where each street terminates at the north loop of I-65. Those parks could display more public art.

The music industry is going to have its players working to try and pull the cultural district down Demonbreun. Hopefully, Downtown, Germantown, and Salemtown residents will play just as hard to keep 5th Avenue the Avenue of the Arts, for all of Nashville’s arts.

1 comment:

  1. Mike, can you please call Mike Sechrist the General Manager at Channel 2 at 369-7222. Thanks.