Monday, May 14, 2012

Salemtown developers allow nearly rezoned properties to blight

The rezoning request for Salemtown properties at 6th and Garfield, which generated sparks on the neighborhood elist a few weeks ago, breezed through a May 1 public hearing with no comment:

[CM Erica] Gilmore requested a hearing from the public on this bill which had been previously advertised. The President asked if anyone desired to be heard for or against the bill and no one came forward to be heard. The President declared the public hearing closed. Ms. Gilmore moved to pass the bill on second reading, which motion was seconded and adopted by a voice vote of the Council.

Without any further objections at the council's public hearing, passage on third reading is a done deal at this point. Even with the way cleared for Roy Dale and Robin York to realized their concept, the vacant property they will build on has deteriorated into an overgrown, vermin-infested, trash-catching, codes-violating mess. Here some photos I took of the southeast corner of 6th and Garfield yesterday:

I have listened to both developers and Salemtown's association president preach to neighbors that the way to clean up vacant lots is to give developers a free, unchecked hand to build. Well, these developers enjoyed objection-free public hearings both at the Planning Commission (which I attended) and the Metro Council (which I did not attend), and yet they still neglected their responsibilities to care for their property. It is now a health risk and quality-of-life nuisance for Salemtown.

Look at the photos and convince me that we are not supposed to question the quality of their product when it is eventually built. We're supposed to believe that they give a flying fling about Salemtown?


  1. That's just tall grass and wild flowers. Relax dude.

  2. The developer, who stands to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars and hopes to make some money too, could easily call someone up and for $50 get it cut every two weeks. Everyone else has to cut their grass.

    It should be reported to codes. You can do that online in 5 minutes.

  3. Most developers have options to purchase land and do not own the land until after it is re-zoned. The current owner is repsonsible for the condition of the property.

  4. If this were just a matter of the law, you are correct. Legally, only the owner (who is ultimately a developer of the property, too) is culpable. And developers can point fingers of blame and pass the buck elsewhere as good as any government bureaucrat I’ve ever seen. That is their legal right.

    However, this is more than just a legal question. It is a matter of perception. The developers (in the narrow sense) are often the public face of the product. And their reputations for offering quality products should attach to how their associates allow the property to blight. The blight should attach to the brand. Those conditions attach to reputations in other professional fields, so why not in property development?

    Frankly, I don’t grasp why a developer or an engineer would want to associate with an owner who allows the kind of deterioration of the community’s quality of life that we see at 6th and Garfield. It really is shameful. But, ultimately, until all the members of the development team motivate themselves to put as much energy into preventing such blight, and until developers refuse to work with owners who do not give a tinker’s damn about North Nashville (except for the maximized sums they can take away from it), then the neglect and the personal irresponsibility will continue on all sides. Again, the ugliness and unhealthiness of the present ought to attach to promises about the future.

    You cannot convince me that other members of the development team have no leverage over how the owner maintains the property, especially when none of them would allow this on the streets where they live.