Monday, July 21, 2014

Salemtown Square coming to Salemtown. But where and how?

It is not unusual to read that Aerial Development is putting up houses in another neighborhood that cause concerns for some who already live in that neighborhood. Except for the real estate journalists who typically give them free advertising in the Tennessean, there continue to be some who have had concerns in the past with their ostentatious builds.

What I was surprised to see was a blurb in Getahn Ward's latest ode to Aerial about the developers starting work on "Salemtown Square," which will feature "six cottage-style homes." I haven't heard anything about this development. If builders are going to request any kind of zoning change, it is not yet showing up on searches I conducted on the Metro Planning website. If they are going to attempt the same sort of SP ("specific plan") rezoning (most zoning in Salemtown is "R6", which limits to duplexes or single-family detached), they will have to hold community meetings and get feedback from the neighborhood. That means incorporating feedback on everything from parking to capacity to design to materials used.

In Germantown AND East Nashville? (click on to enlarge)
The Salemtown Square website has a lot of imagery up of local vendors and organizations, but it is thin so far on the details and designs of the development itself. It also has some confusing pitch about the build "cresting" Germantown and "located in East Nashville's hot house market." Did the Aerial's content manager confuse the locations or this some sort of new marketing trend that only hipsters can understand? There is also a weird reference to to a bigger purpose: "creating a neighborhood association where old and new residents can protect, enhance and truly enjoy their new home and neighborhood." Funny, but I thought that had already happened a decade ago when we joined together to form "Salemtown Neighbors." Last time I checked, Salemtown's first association was still operational, so is Aerial going to jumpstart a competing association?

The images on the website, which I assume are intended to evoke historic feelings about Salemtown, bear little or no resemblance to any period in Salemtown's history that I have seen. This is also odd, because Salemtown Square developers claim to "honor [our] historic design and style." The area now called Salemtown was one of the original streetcar suburbs of Nashville and home to the blue-collar workers of the Warioto Cotton Mill and later the Werthan Bag Company. Aerial posts old photos of what look like a downtown square (Times Square?) and a Main Street in some unidentified locality. Old photos of Salemtown suggest a different kind of community. What eventually gets built may or may not have continuity with our real history regardless of the marketing hype.


Salemtown (inset photo) did not resemble Aerial's Main Street image 

Aerial developers have raised eyebrows in Salemtown in the past. I've heard long-time residents express displeasure about their disregard for the community. The people I have listened to do not believe Aerial has "honored" their history or style in the recent past. We will see what their plans are with Salemtown Square. If they eventually have to request rezoning for this development, they will have to listen to feedback from the neighborhood, and if they request an SP rezoning, they will be required to incorporate neighborhood input into their plan.


UPDATE: The Salemtown Square website seems to have disappeared. The links above take you to the Aerial website for now. The Salemtown Square domain is still registered to Aerial as this link attests. Not sure what this means, but the fact that websites can be scrubbed is one reason why I take screenshots to go with commentary.


UPDATE: The Salemtown Square website is back up and revised without WWII-era Main Street images unconnected to Salemtown of the same period. Those photos have been replaced by a photo of the old Downtown courthouse and by an aerial shot of Werthan Bag, Morgan Park, and Germantown. Closer to Salemtown, but still not Salemtown. Oh, I get it. They're going for a feeling not a fact.

They also are touting a Facebook page (which seems to be in process).

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