Tuesday, July 22, 2008

If Wishes Were Horses, Then Beggars Would Ride

Christine Buttorff gives City Paper readers a break from Richard Lawson's pandering to the May Town Center development team by reporting the findings of a study commissioned by those trying to save Bells Bend as the last rural area close to Downtown (Buttorff inaccurately refers to it as the last "undeveloped" area around Downtown; there are parcels of undeveloped properties various places closer to Downtown).

Buttorff's summary of the report:
“The point of our study is not to say one way or another that May Town Center is a good development or a bad development, but it’s important as policymakers look at some of the land use issues,” said [Community Research Center’s] President David Eichenthal, “that they deal with an understanding what the reality is in terms of the potential economic impact” ....

The CRC report’s authors question whether the real estate market will support the proposed 5 million to 10 million square feet of office space the May Town Center is expected to have upon completion in 2026.

“Generally, you don’t have 15 years of sustained and consistent growth in any area like Nashville,” explained Eichenthal. He said the May Town Center’s analysis is not based in the historical trends of the city.

“In 2007, there was more than 4.2 million square feet of office space available in the Nashville market — with nearly one-third in the Central Business District [downtown Nashville]. During the course of the year, 1.4 million square feet of new office space was absorbed.” Eichenthal said the May Town Center would have to sell office space at roughly the equivalent of filling downtown’s 500,000 square foot Pinnacle at Symphony Place building every year.
Those are long odds based on thin certainties.  Proponents of May Town Center assume the premise that if they build on Bells Bend, then someone like Nissan will automatically come.  It's their field of dreams.  They don't have anything in writing and they offer no iron-clad guarantees, but the mainstream media and Metro Planning seem to have joined them in this sheer whimsy that shares little with the aspirations of the larger Bells Bend community.

Oh, and the Mays are asking taxpayers to help finance their slickly-produced fantasy.

1 comment:

  1. The 1.4 million s.f. additinal office space is only relevant if one is trying to take that space away from downtown, which is an argument the developer is quite carefully avoiding. May Town's stated goal is to intercept development that is going out of the county (to "greener" pastures) or that would otherwise not even consider locating in Davidson. So, the real number to consider when looking at the May Town growth projection is how much office space located in surrounding counties instead of downtown, especially Williamson, during the time the 1.4 million s.f. was absorbed here. My guess is much more than enough to fill the Pinnacle every year.