Friday, March 04, 2005

"The Plan of Nashville": Whose Plan? Which Nashville? Part II

Zoned sketch of North Salemtown. Source:
I would like to take a second look at the proposal, in “The Plan of Nashville,” to turn the I-65 corridor into an urban boulevard in order to redevelop the interstate’s footprint and “reintegrate” the neighborhoods to the city. As I mentioned in a previous entry, I-65 cuts a small slice of North Salemtown off from the rest of Salemtown. I expressed reservations about The Plan’s proposal with MetroCenter holding so much of the land in that small area.

Well, I went to the Metro Planning Department’s virtual map room on a fact-finding mission. By the way, the Planning Department’s website is great for tracking information about parcels of land, especially if you need help locating codes violators. It also allows you to filter the map with “layers” to give you any kind of information about neighborhoods. I recommend it.

The facts seem to sustain my concerns about MetroCenter, which is not a Tennessee-based company:
  • MetroCenter owns 26 of 53 parcels in the North Salemtown area cut off by I-65.
  • Most of MetroCenter’s holdings are in commercial zones.
  • MetroCenter owns the largest parcels in the area.
In sum, MetroCenter has increased its landholdings south of Dominican Drive, possessing nearly half of all parcels and probably most of the acreage of North Salemtown. Most of its holdings are zoned as "vacant commercial," and all of its holdings are vacant period.

One does not have to stretch very far from these facts to deduce, as I have, that MetroCenter will more than likely develop most of North Salemtown commercially with or without respect for urban design or for the character of neighborhoods. At the very least we can conclude that MetroCenter's land holdings give them the power and influence to make them the force with which to be reckoned if planners and designers advance visions for redevelopment of the I-65 corridor. Near northside neighborhood organizers defending the community's interest will have to find some counterbalance to MetroCenter's influence should I-65 go away.

In the next part of my commentary about The Plan’s plan for I-65, I’ll breakdown the numbers on the property holdings in North Salemtown. There is actually a slim hope that MetroCenter might not turn out to be the King Kong I worry about and might actually develop residential properties as The Plan wishes. But based on the power MetroCenter already has through its holdings in North Salemtown, things might not fall that way.

If MetroCenter turns out to be a beast gobbling up parcels of land at the rate it has in North Salemtown, I-65 may be the only barrier keeping it from gobbling up even more tracts further to the south in Salemtown proper.

Stay tuned.

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