Monday, September 30, 2013

Will a new Sulphur Dell ballpark bring more gentrification or will it spur sensitive revival?

The tensions that come with profound change and growth are mirrored in the comments of two North Nashville leaders with very different priorities and visions for "nexting" along Jefferson Street.

Jefferson Street became great once from humble beginnings and could do so again in the future, said [Ed] Kindall, who was born in a house on Jefferson Street in 1945 and has lived in the community most of his life.

He just wants to see some of the past preserved when the community comes back.

“It’s not that we don’t want Jefferson Street to be pretty,” he said. “We just don’t want it to be gentrified.”

Sharon Hurt, president of the Jefferson Street United Merchants Partnership, sees hope for Jefferson Street in the plans for a new Sounds stadium at the Sulphur Dell location.

The proposed Sulphur Dell project would border Jefferson Street near Fourth and Fifth avenues. Hurt said the project would bring jobs to the community and could spark a revival for Jefferson Street.

“This could be the beginning of the rebirth of North Nashville,” she said.

I generally find myself on the opposite side from Sharon Hurt on most issues affecting the neighborhoods just a few blocks from Jefferson Street business corridor.

She supported the failed plan to build a "second Downtown" (May Town Center) on North Nashville's urban farmland, Bells Bend. She supported the decision of the National Museum of African American Music to abandon its logical location on Jefferson Street for honky-tonked Lower Broadway. Now Ms. Hurt raves about the Mayor's ballpark project without expressing any of the questions former school board member Kindall raises about untrammeled, insensitive gentrification.

I share Mr. Kindall's concerns on this score. I wonder how a new ballpark can help but destroy historical and cultural qualities of North Nashville in a headlong rush to drive up real estate prices and gentrify without careful planning and input by the whole community beyond business interests. Growth at all costs based on the ambitions of the few will do us more harm than good. The history of Jefferson Street deserves better treatment and consideration.

1 comment:

  1. I think there is a definitional need here, as some people don't know what "gentrification" means. I might encompass the following - the middle class moving in to where lower classes had lived. Also - additional refinement and rising property values; a changing of the character of the neighborhood is typically implied.

    "Untrammeled" and "insensitive" are two words that are the opposite of "gentrification." I would say you can't have "gentrification" with those two words. That would be something else, like if a bunch of Brentioch cul-de-sacs replaced whatever is currently in North Nashville.

    Ed Kindall is right that "gentrification" includes becoming more "pretty." I suppose he has the right to oppose his idea of "gentrification" as he defines it.

    If that idea includes having something forced on him (especially by the government), I agree with him.

    If that idea is that property values will go up in his neighborhood so much that all friends and neighbors sell out (and up), well, I can't agree with him. In that instance, his decisions are being made by individuals in their best interests. Individuals that are unlike him may move into his neighborhood, and they may change what has just become their neighborhood.

    I agree with your last paragraph.