North of downtown is a small historic district called Germantown. This was rather unimpressive if you ask me. I didn’t see much that was German about it. It sure isn’t Columbus’ German Village, that’s for sure. There were some restaurants there. I had lunch at one of them which, fortunately for them, I can’t remember the name of because it was terrible. This area is mostly older single family homes.
The amazing thing about this area is that almost every vacant or industrial parcel was being redeveloped as condos. This really brought home to me the difference between Nashville and the Midwest. Were this, say, the Cottage Home area in Indianapolis, the local neighborhood association would use their historic district status to keep developments like these out. In Nashville, they are seen as a positive.
I do not entirely disagree with Renn on the point that the Germantown area (including Salemtown) is becoming overbuilt with condos. Attached townhouses and family un-friendly "multi-family" homes seem to predominate with little continuity to the history of the place. It seems that the emphasis tends to be on short-term gain without reference to long-term well-being that comes with diversity. Growth here could be smarter, more sustainable and evenly balanced.
Nevertheless, Urbanophile's ambivalence about Historic Germantown seems to contradict his explanations for why Nashville itself is so full of promise. On the one hand, he asserts that what sets Nashville's potential apart from the Midwest is that we are so pro-growth, that we lack the Midwest's NIMBY, and that any kind of development sails through the approval process in our city. On the other hand, he claims that we proudly embrace our heritage.
I would suggest that being unabashedly pro-growth is what makes for the problems that Renn sees the history-erasing trends in the Germantown area in the first place. And if we really did embrace our heritage, wouldn't we be doing more to protect or enhance neighborhood character rather than being so tear-down-and-wipe-clean in order to make room for more growth?
In the final analysis I am not sure it is fair for Renn to criticize Germantown for the very reasons he sees Nashville as more promising than places in the Midwest.