Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A wing and a prayer

Some of us advocated for a more smart-growth, sustainable, 24/7-neighborhood approach to building a new convention center years ago to encourage a more vibrant SoBro neighborhood. Given the anemic, limited reality chosen by the Mayor's Office, when can we say, "We told you so"? Cue the Tennessean:

Part of the issue for developer Shelby Smith, who is interested in bringing a mix of retail and restaurants to his property, is what he calls the lack of a coherent vision for commercial projects around the convention site.

“If it is going to be a development engine, shouldn’t they have outlined their idea of development? There doesn’t seem to be much sensitivity to this (the south) side of the development.”

Others disagree with that assessment. How land gets used around the convention center is up to the landowners, Spyridon said. “It’s not rocket science. The infill will be service, restaurants and hospitality related. It’s a natural chain of events, and it’s probably a couple of years away from hitting momentum.”

Originally, designers of the convention center had planned for some 30,000 square feet of retail space on the convention site. As the project took shape, however, it was made plain that the retail ambitions had to be scaled back significantly ....

Meanwhile, the number of meetings and hotel bookings committed to the Music City Center are running behind initial projections.

At this point, convention center planners were hoping to be at 500,000 room night bookings.

Spyridon said current room bookings stand at roughly 469,000 projected out more than a decade.

UPDATE: It occurred to me after writing this, that using the word "limited" to describe Karl Dean's convention center plan does not exactly express the meaning I was intending. After all, the plan is limitless for the few restaurant and hospitality vendors who will benefit from the Music City Center. To be more precise, what I meant to say is that Mayor Dean's vision of growth is one-dimensional. It does not serve Nashvillians on multiple levels, and in fact obligating the General Fund, sapping our resources actually hurts most of us who live here. And calling it one-dimensional is a much more scathing indictment, in my opinion.


  1. That projection looks pretty good to me, at 93.8% of planned rooms, assuming the timeframes for measurement are comparable.

    Contrast that to the projections of the Music City Star.

    I do love that we now rely on the "natural chain of events" over a couple of years to realize our goals.

    What major projects in Nashville have gone from inception to completion in a couple of years? Is that how long it took for Metrocenter to be built and then become a ghostland?

  2. Fact check: He did not "obligate the general fund" for the MCC. Non tax revenues only. I was not for the MCC but you need to be precise if you are going to talk about muni-finance.

  3. Mike is right. The general fund is obligated to pay debt service in the event taxes dedicated to the MCC are not sufficient. Specifically, that portion of the general fund known as "permit fees and fines" is pledged to make up any shortfalls in collections from hotel occupancy taxes and the tourist developement zone. That general fund pledge secures payment of both MCC debt and payments to Omni for thir 1/2 priced hotel.