East Side Buzz, January 28

Matters of Development

Beloved dive bar and karaoke hangout, Fran’s Eastside, will reopen Saturday at its new location of 2504 Dickerson Pike, Ste. B, in the former location of Bellshire Pizza, which has moved to Smyrna. The soft opening welcomes a new Fran’s much like the old Fran’s, with smoking indoors and karaoke on the weekends. There will be two pool tables and a stage for live music (eventually). “It’s still the same old Eastside. It’s a dive bar,” says Katrina Head, bartender and daughter of Fran’s owner Frances Adams. A grand opening party in the near future is being discussed. Hours are Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-?, Friday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 a.m., and Sunday noon to 3 a.m. 

The owner of Lincoln College of Technology, previously known as Nashville Auto-Diesel College, announced Monday that it has agreed to sell its roughly 15-acre Gallatin Avenue campus in East Nashville for $34.5 million, according to the Nashville Scene

The owners of Greko in East Nashville and Darfons in Donelson are planning an ambitious retail project in Donelson that will include a sports bar called Greeno and Shorty’s, a collaboration with Martin’s barbecue owner Pat Martin, and an Italian food concept called Salento Italia, according to AXIOS Nashville. One other major restaurant tenant is finalizing its lease, and the project will also feature a Scout’s barbershop.

The ShipOffers fulfillment company has announced a Nashville location, coming on board this summer. 


TN House Votes To Split Congressional Districts; Rep. Jim Cooper Announces Retirement

Republicans in the Tennessee House voted to split Nashville’s 5th Congressional District into three districts Monday. The following day, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper — the third longest-serving member of Congress who represents Nashville — announced his retirement.

“Despite my strength at the polls, I could not stop the General Assembly from dismembering Nashville. No one tried harder to keep our city whole,” Cooper said in a tweet. “I explored every possible way, including lawsuits, to stop the gerrymandering and to win one of the three new congressional districts that now divide Nashville. There’s no way, at least for me in this election cycle, but there may be a path for other worthy candidates.”

Cooper said he will serve out the remainder of his term, which ends next year. (Read Cooper’s full statement here.

With the vote — headed for Gov. Bill Lee’s desk and expected to be signed into law — Democrats say state Republicans have diminished Nashville’s Black and minority vote by splitting up downtown, North Nashville, and East Nashville, and combining the areas with rural districts. The move is also seen as a way to give a Republican a better chance to win Cooper’s seat. 

Under the plan, Northwest Davidson County — including the historically Black North Nashville — will move into the 7th Congressional District, currently represented by U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Clarksville. East Nashville will now become part of Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District, which is represented by Rep. John Rose (R-Cookeville).  

Rose, who was first elected in 2018 and campaigned as a Trump conservative, attempted to block the first Trump impeachment, voted against a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, and against transgender people serving in the military, against disaster aid for Puerto Rico, and against a van on flavored tobacco products.

The Tennessee Democratic Party has said the districts deny “an entire community of shared interests a voice at the national level” and the party would prepare to sue over the plan, according to The Tennessean

Monday the House also passed State Senate and House redistricting plans. 

The State Senate redistricting is far less egregious in terms of its overall impact on voters in Davidson county. The most significant change is to District 17, currently represented by Sen. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, which would extend from Wilson County into Davidson to include portions of Donelson and Hermitage, along with areas near the Nashville International Airport and Percy Priest Lake.

Home Business Ordinance Challenged in Tennessee Supreme Court

A Nashville ordinance regulating home business occupation was challenged in the Tennessee Supreme Court Wednesday. 

After years of Nashville not allowing home businesses — including recording studios — Metro Council passed an ordinance doing so in July 2020. The change was due in part to a campaign by Grammy-winning East Nashville music producer Lij Shaw, who has been fighting Metro for his right to work from his East Nashville home studio since 2015. 

However, the ordinance, which now allows home businesses with certain restrictions, is set to expire January 2023, unless extended by Council.

“For the first time in 20 years, they allow home businesses to have a reasonable number of clients to come over to the house. That was a huge win for me obviously, and all of Nashville, but in order to pass the bill they agreed to a sunset clause,” Shaw said. 

It has been unclear what will happen once the law expires. 

“Like, really are we just supposed to believe there will be no law whatsoever?” Shaw said. “That was very clear to me at the time (the ordinance was adopted) that the sunset clause was an attempt of putting in a plug that you could pull to let the air out of this thing a little later.” 

Metro attorney Lora Fox, who argued the city’s side of the case Wednesday, told the court there is no plan to change the law once it expires, but the Council can do so if it wishes. 

“I think that if we look at the repeal of the client prohibition — and that part is not sunset — and then we look at the new provision which says you can have up to six clients come to your house every day, then I think that we’re in a situation where the current policy is that we’re going to allow clients to come,” Fox said. 

Shaw’s troubles began in 2015 when he was issued a cease and desist letter by Metro. With the help of non-profit law firm Institute for Justice, Shaw, along with local cosmetologist Pat Raynor, sued the city in 2017, alleging their civil rights were violated by the home business ban. 

But without a permanent solution in place, Shaw has decided to continue with the suit. “Why turn off the process? It takes a long time to get to the level we’re at,” he said.

Paul Avelar, senior attorney for the Arizona office of the Institute for Justice, who argued the case in front of the Supreme Court Wednesday, said the ordinance is “a mess.” 

“You can’t run a business based on the uncertainty of if you’re even going to be legal in a year,” he said. 

Additionally, not all business owners are treated equally under the ordinance, Avelar said. Metro allows some privileged businesses, such as owner-occupied short-term rentals, historic home event centers, and daycares to allow more clients in the home than the six-per-day allowed by a recording studio or a hair salon.  

Much of the Supreme Court hearing centered on whether the case is moot — an appellate court’s ruling in Feb. 2021. However, Avelar said it is not and has asked for the court to declare Nashville’s prohibition on clients at Shaw and Raynor’s businesses to be unconstitutional. 

“In an ideal world the Supreme Court would see this case is not moot because Metro just did a temporary fix,” Avelar said. “It sunsets, and it still treats Pat and Lij worse than the privileged businesses.” 


Apply Now For Nashville’s MyCity And The Neighborhood Academies

Mayor John Cooper is looking for Nashville’s next round of neighbors to join Nashville’s MyCity Academy and The Neighborhood Academy.

The application period for MyCity Academy — which engages new Americans looking to participate more deeply in Metro government — ends Jan. 31. Since its 2012 launch, neighbors representing more than 64 countries have graduated from the program.

To apply for MyCity Academy go to hubNashville

The Neighborhood Academy is designed to help Nashvillians rediscover Metro’s civic processes and programs and identify issues facing Nashville’s neighborhoods. Participants choose a challenge or opportunity they want to tackle and work together on policy recommendations.

Nineteen residents have come through The Neighborhood Academy since Mayor Cooper began the program in 2021.

The deadline to apply for The Neighborhood Academy is Feb. 11. To apply go to hubNashville.

Both academies are set to begin this spring.

Mental Health Cooperative Awarded Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission

Mental Health Cooperative has been awarded The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for the Behavioral Health and Human Services Accreditation, the only outpatient mental health provider in Middle Tennessee to do so.

“Mental Health Cooperative strives to provide safe mental health care that incorporates the whole person. We see firsthand how a person’s housing situation, nutrition, history of trauma, or family background can impact their mental health, and we have worked to ensure each consumer receives the highest quality of care possible. That’s why I’m proud to see our team earn this high honor from The Joint Commission,” said Mental Health Cooperative CEO Pam Womack.

MHC’s team underwent a rigorous, 18-month evaluation process for compliance that included a review of over 1,000 safety standards by The Joint Commission including emergency management, environment of care, infection prevention and control, leadership, medication management, and rights and responsibilities of the individual. To maintain this highly sought accreditation standard, MHC will undergo an audit at a minimum of every three years by a Joint Commission survey team. 

MHC offers a wide range of mental health services for both children and adults, including emergency psychiatric services, substance abuse and suboxone treatment, primary care clinic, and pharmacy. MHC operates 10 clinics throughout Middle and East Tennessee, including Nashville’s first 24/7 Walk-in Crisis Treatment Center.

Beginning in late June 2021, MHC launched Partners in Care, a mental health emergency co-response pilot in partnership with the Metro Nashville Police Department in the North and Hermitage police precincts to respond to acute mental health crises. MHC also works with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department to provide care at the Behavioral Care Center, a 60-bed facility to provide mental health care for people who are arrested and experiencing mental illness.

United Way Kicks Off VITA Free Tax Prep Program at Westwood Baptist

In honor of Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day, United Way of Greater Nashville and partner agencies, including Westwood Baptist Church Center, are kicking off the 18th annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance free tax prep program, a partnership in which IRS-certified volunteers provide free tax preparation services to low-to-moderate-income individuals. 

Starting Jan. 31 through April 15, United Way is partnering to operate 19 VITA sites (walk-in and appointment-only options available) throughout Middle Tennessee. Taxpayers may also file virtually. Visit unitedwayfilefree.com or call 211 to get started.

The average taxpayer spends $300 to have their taxes prepared and filed at paid tax service providers. Thanks to the VITA free tax prep program, volunteers help low-to-moderate-income individuals save crucial dollars that could go toward rent, food, child care, and gas. For tax year 2020, Middle Tennessee VITA volunteers completed 6,700 returns, helping taxpayers save more than $2 million in tax preparation fees and bringing more than $9 million in federal refunds back to the community.

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