Friday, November 30, 2012

North Capitol

In a recent commentary on development around old Sulphur Dell, the Nashville City Paper comments on the status of public and private development:

Until a group of private investors announced earlier this year the rehabbing of two buildings at the southeast corner of Jefferson Street and Third Avenue North, Leibowitz’s District Lofts and Craighead Development’s two-building Harrison Square and conversion of Riverfront Apartments to a condominium building essentially had been North Capitol’s only significant private development since the Bicentennial Mall opened 16 years ago.

And if private development has been modest, the construction of civic structures on the multiple acres of state-owned property within the district has been nonexistent.

Plans for the public-private $47.5 million National Museum of African American Music, now pushing 10 years in the making, seemingly have stalled indefinitely. The most recently available tax return shows the nonprofit had only about $2.57 million on hand at the end of 2010. The tax records also indicate the organization tasked with spearheading the project operated at a deficit that year.

Support for a new home for the Nashville School for the Arts magnet high school has gained minimal traction. Progress has been painfully slow on a new Tennessee State Museum building. And a Nashville Sounds baseball stadium on the old Sulphur Dell site doesn’t appear likely.

I wasn't aware of any proposals for a new magnet high school. The last I heard was that the Nashville Civic Design Center was pushing the idea of a charter school for the area. While the journalists maintain that a new ballpark does not appear likely, I keep hearing about the prospect of it here in the community. Some here don't seem to be as willing to let it go. The prospect of the African American Music museum sadly lists in malaise, and in my opinion it could have been prevented if the Mayor's Office had put more of its own energies into it. The concept has dropped off the radar here in the North End. Chatter I hear from the associations shows no hint of political will to work on it.

I think that "North Capitol" is a much better moniker than "Capitol District" a name recently pitched by association officers here in Germantown and Salemtown. The term "district" is hackneyed and trite; NoCap is more attractive, less sterile and stale. In the past I have pitched the idea of calling our area "Capitol Downs".

One exception that I take to the City Paper is that the Bicentennial Mall area is "eerily people-free". We go to the area on a regular basis at all times of the day and we see quite a number of people, especially neighbors who live around the Mall using the common spaces and the Farmers' Market. Granted, it is usually not as densely packed with tourists as Downtown is (for some of us that makes it more attractive), but the park area has been consistently used in the 8 years we have lived here. My next door neighbors even had their wedding ceremony at the Bicentennial Mall chimes this year. The times we have seen denser crowds of tourists in the area include the Music City Marathon and the National Folk Festival (an event cancelled this year due to neglect from corporations and courthouse).

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