|Screenshot of 1604 6th Av N & homes from Google Maps|
Now I don't question the value of having restaurants in higher density urban neighborhoods as long as there is careful planning and attention to traffic and parking impact and noise abatement. I have expressed support on this blog for a number of local businesses, including those that feature bars and restaurants. And we spend our money in these establishments to support them particularly because we appreciate the chance to walk rather than drive to do so.
But Salemtown sends the wrong signals to developers when we unquestioningly welcome them with open arms and no critical concerns. We send the wrong signals when we assume that, if we support a specific zoning change here, developers--especially absentee developers--will deliver the restaurants they float in front of our noses as wishful concepts to get their rezoning. We send the wrong signals when we appear to fall in love with their product and generally appear desperate for development when we should be asking developers to compromise to a win-win.
I live very close to the property that other people in my neighborhood who appear to live farther away want to see flipped into The Pharmacy. If I lived where they live I might want that dream, too. The reason I like going to the Pharmacy, besides the fare, is because it's across the river in East Nasty, and I do not have to worry about late-night bar closings near my property or noisy beer gardens.
But if this rezoning bobs to the surface, I will be contacting Mr. Terrell myself to ask about parking, traffic, his closing hours of 3am 7 days a week, and any amplified music played in a beer garden on top of the voices of dozens of customers on school nights. I see that he has a kid about my youngest kid's age, so he would probably understand why I would ask. I might even visit The Pharmacy late night with a decibel meter to measure the noise level myself.
Before I could support a bar and restaurant with outside service near my house on a property that is currently zoned residential, I would need assurances. And I have already talked to a couple of my neighbors who tell me they would need the same assurances. I bet I could find other neighbors who would be sympathetic, especially parents.
One online review of The Pharmacy indicates that parking is a problem in its East Nashville location. In 12South residents have been struggling with shrinking parking due to business growth for years, and the tensions came to a head in 2012. Following multiple meetings between 12South neighborhood association, the Belmont-Hillsboro Neighbors neighborhood association, and 12South businesses, affected residents have successfully navigated the parking permit application process to reserve street parking for themselves. They have a public hearing set with Metro Traffic and Parking Commission on March 11. I bet reserved on-street parking for residents will be approved.
Given that Salemtown has primarily on-street parking, support for residential permits is one thing among others that developers and business owners should be willing to give in order to get support for rezoning. One among others, like noise abatement.
Speaking of the impact of neighborhood businesses on parking, I meant to respond to Chris Chamberlain's observations about on-street parking in a Nashville Scene review of Germantown's Rolf and Daughters back in November. Chamberlain wrote:
Although Rolf and Daughters may seem to be in a remote location with no dedicated parking lot, intrepid diners will quickly realize that it is really only about a minute past the Nashville Farmers' Market and just a couple minutes from the interstate at the Rosa Parks exit. There is plenty of street parking on Taylor Street, so you shouldn't have to walk far to enjoy this new gem in the local restaurant crown.
I drove down Taylor tonight at rush hour, just before dinner time. I saw no ample on-street parking. There was ample parking if you were willing to walk at least a block to get to the place, because cars were choking both sides of the street (and what is the impact on residents who live on 7th Av off Taylor?). Taylor is so narrow that moving traffic is reduced to one squeezed lane when the ample parking spaces are occupied. Without traffic flaggers, two-way traffic on Taylor would be impossible on nights when Rolf and Daughters is slammed and on-street parking backfills for two or three blocks. Ample parking? Did Chamberlain closely look at the street before writing that?
All questions about traffic and parking impact and noise abatement must be soberly considered by Salemtown before we indulge ourselves in the seduction of developers' dreams.