Here's how Lewis gives a leg-up to realtors and brokers who would otherwise have to pay for exposure as wide as the newspaper's readership:
Homeowners and real estate agents are holding a neighborhood-wide open house today that will showcase 15 homes for sale.
Homes range from a restored 1899 Victorian at 4800 Illinois Ave. to new construction, such as a 2006 cottage at 4906 Illinois Ave. Prices in the neighborhood range from the $90,000s to about $260,000, says Kay Hunter, a Realtor with the Realty Association. A number of vacant lots have signs promising future construction of new single-family houses ....
Potential investors overlooked the neighborhood, says Alice Walker, president of the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors, who helped organize the open house ....
That’s changing as momentum builds in Historic West Town and small neighborhood businesses move in along Charlotte Pike, she says.
“That’s what makes urban living so great. You have your own little neighborhood,” says Walker.
Indeed, there is very little in this article that has to do with broader issues of community development or cultural legacy. Everything is reduced to the economic development tools that Realtors and real estate brokers use to make money off neighborhood life.
Here is Maldonado's response to the Tennessean pieced together from his Twitter stream:
Okay, the Nations or Historic West Town or whatever is a perfectly fine neighborhood. No reason to be scared by it or anything .... But it still has plenty of problems. And this article which declares its "rebirth" in a nonquote, is barely distinguishable from an ad .... Furthermore, the name. Just because there's like one house from the (extreme late) 1800s, that a realtor pointed out to the paper .... That doesn't actually make this neighborhood as a whole historic. Basically it's an ordinary suburban neighborhood .... Lots of post-War tract housing. And plenty of houses wherein whatever "historic" elements there once were have been renovated into oblivion.
Isn't speculation on real estate part of what brought us a bubble and then the housing crisis of the past half decade? It seems like a contradiction of the journalistic mission for a newspaper to aid and abet wealthy special interests that inflate expectations and buying frenzy without regard to facts or local history.
Maldonado points out that this story simply gave real estate developers the benefit of the doubt without any digging behind the image that they project for the commercial purpose of selling property. Bill Lewis was helping out the privileged few more than he was doing the local community favors, especially if home values are artificially driven up with contrivances like "historic". The more influence Realtors have, the more likely they are to do what they want regardless of what's good for all West Town residents.