District 5 Councilmember Sean Parker speaks at the River North groundbreaking. Photo by Jack Evan Johnson

East Side Buzz, Oct. 8

The East Nashvillian has a sister! You heard that right, friends. We’re excited to announce next week’s The Madisonian, a magazine devoted to our neighbor to the north. The inaugural edition sports writer Andrew Leahey’s cover story on Meg Morgan and Parker Millsap, as well as a behind-the-scenes deep dive by Randy Fox into the soon-to-open, diner/bowling alley/dual-stage-venue — indeed, a fun-for-the-whole-family destination — known as Eastside Bowl. Stay tuned to our socials for the street date and locations where you can grab one of your very own.

But first, the news …

Where Goes The Neighborhood?

In last week’s East Side Buzz, I asked the rhetorical question: “How many mixed-use developments do we really need?” It was thrown out to the internet world with no expectation of a response. But this week, during an interview with Metro District 5 Councilmember Sean Parker — whose district includes the East Bank and Dickerson Pike in East Nashville — I had the opportunity to ask that very question. 

Parker was not prepared to answer the question exactly, but did offer this: 

“We do like mixed-use, or at least a mix of uses in an area — it helps build the kind of walkable neighborhoods where you can go to a neighborhood and get a sandwich or a cup of coffee, where you don’t have to get in a car, and it’s definitely a goal of mine and a goal a lot of people share,” he said. 

For anyone who has tried walking down Gallatin Avenue during peak traffic hours, you can understand why a more walkable city might be desirable.

But at what cost? Standing on the bank of the Cumberland River yesterday, at the River North groundbreaking, the scene was quiet and peaceful. It was hard to imagine the changes coming to the area — let alone the potential social costs of such development. 

As you can read in this week’s East Side Buzz, some parts of East Nashville are soon to be unrecognizable. 

But, hey, no one wants to get hit by a speeding car.

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Matters of Development

Metro Council put a Dickerson Pike rezoning request on hold Tuesday after a mobile home community’s residents, who are facing eviction, asked for more time to negotiate with the property owner, according to The Tennessean. A total of 48 families living at the W.C. Company Mobile Home Community were told in June that they had to vacate the property by Aug. 31, to make way for a mixed-use development. The developer, New Orleans-based Key Real Estate, has delayed eviction until Dec. 31, allowing residents to live on the property rent-free. The developer has also said it would pay for real estate and housing relocation assistance services, agreed to pay tenants’ relocation expenses, and compensate tenants for the market value of their owned mobile homes. Residents say that’s not enough, and the approximately 20 families remaining are seeking roughly a combined $500,000 in compensation. Speaking to The East Nashvillian Wednesday, Metro District 5 Councilmember Sean Parker — whose district includes the property — said he voted to delay the rezoning. “I don’t have any intention of moving it forward until they come to some kind of agreement,” Parker said. “We need the housing built, but you can’t just bull over the people who live here.” 

District 7 Councilmember Emily Benedict says her district can expect various traffic calming efforts to be put into place over the next 60 days. “Some of the improvements I am working on right now are as simple as adding more speed limit signs (it works), and changes in striping patterns (it works), and even simple “Watch for Pedestrian” signs (they work too),” Benedict wrote in her October newsletter. “NDOT is reviewing areas where we may be able to add stop signs (this takes additional study, and I know we could use them in certain locations, and they can work), or future speed humps (this always sounds good until the neighborhood tries to adopt them, but they work really well).” Benedict says traffic calming is the top issue she hears about from her constituents. Read more about Metro’s traffic calming program here

Also according to Benedict’s newsletter, a new sidewalk planned for Stratford Avenue in Inglewood, between Gallatin Pike and Kennedy Avenue, is expected to see construction starting early summer 2022 and is slated for completion by summer 2023. Although the project is fully funded — it was approved in 2019 — the city is waiting to acquire right-of-way from every property owner. “As soon as we have approval from every property owner, final design and construction will begin immediately,” says Benedict. “Thank you for your patience as NDOT continues to reach out to property owners who have not yet responded.” View a map of Metro’s ongoing sidewalk projects here

Metro Nashville District 5 Councilmember Sean Parker says 650 units of affordable housing, spread across three separate projects, will be coming to East Nashville in the coming years. One project is the $300 million mixed-use project — mentioned in last week’s East Side Buzz —  Austin-based developer Cypress Real Estate Advisors has planned for a 14.4 acre McFerrin Park site with addresses 301 N. Second St. and 651 and 660 Joseph Ave. “They haven’t even filed their application yet,” Parker said. “The developers have had a number of meetings with the community — we’re going back and forth about the plans.” Another project is a 195-unit residential project by a Chicago firm, planned for 900 Dickerson Pike, which Parker says is two to three years away. There is a third affordable housing project Parker says he is not ready to comment on. 

A Franklin-based developer intends to build 245 apartment units in North Inglewood, at 301 Ben Allen Road, according to The Nashville Post

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River North Breaks Ground

A rendering of River North, which Nashville Mayor John Cooper calls Nashville’s “Next Great Neighborhood”

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday for Phase I of the River North development, a 1.3 million square foot master-planned community, now officially being built on 13 acres of East Nashville’s East Bank. 

Nashville Mayor John Cooper addressed the crowd of about 100 guests gathered under a tent, saying Nashville was the second-fastest growing city in the nation, second only to Austin, Tex. Cooper also said River North — formerly the site of a rail yard and a shipping terminal — was Nashville’s “next great neighborhood.” 

Located just behind Top Golf, Phase I consists of 817,070 square feet of mixed-use space, including 651 residential apartment units, 78,000 square feet of office space, and approximately 80,000 square feet of retail space spread across four buildings on the riverfront site. It is expected to be completed in late 2023. 

“It will be a surprise to all of us in the future to remember what was here,” Cooper said. (A phrase often heard in the newly gentrified areas of East Nashville, so, no irony here.)

Representatives from project developer MRP Realty, and investor Creek Lane Capital, as well as District 5 Councilmember Sean Parker also spoke at the ceremony. 

“It’s extremely rare that an up and coming mid-size city gets an opportunity like the East Bank,” Parker said. 

River North is adjacent to the planned Oracle campus, which in coming years is expected to bring 8,500 jobs to the site. 

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Give Thanks This Holiday Season

United Way is seeking community support to collect food for families in need this season. The 2021 Give Thanks collection drive runs through Nov. 8. 

You can create a meal box, with food needed for a holiday meal for a family of four, along with supplemental food to help support families throughout the holiday break. 

You can run a collection drive at your workplace or community group to help collect food and assemble boxes. United Way will supply promotional materials and a how-to guide.

You can donate money. $75 provides a full Give Thanks box for a family of four. 

United Way created the Give Thanks Day of Action to relieve some of the financial burdens many families face during the holiday season. Based on three meals a day, the average family of four receives $9.23 a meal through public assistance programs. The average cost of a traditional holiday dinner is roughly $60. That’s six times the amount a family has available to spend on a single meal. 

“The holidays can be an expensive time of year. And they are especially difficult for our neighbors whose food budget is limited to begin with,” said Brian Hassett, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Nashville. “It’s important to us that families who are struggling can gather around the table and share a warm meal together. With your help, we can give families that special gift.” 

Boxes will be distributed to families via select United Way of Greater Nashville partner agencies and local schools. Individuals in need of assistance can call 211 or visit unitedwaygreaternashville.org/211-helpline.  

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Quick Bits

  • Metro Nashville is asking for the public to get involved in its efforts to improve walking and biking in Music City. Learn more about the 2021 WalknBike Plan update survey on the city’s website. 
  • The tornado-damaged East End United Methodist Church plans to have an entirely new building constructed by mid-2023.
  • Brooklyn Bowl Nashville announced Wednesday that proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or negative test, administered within 72 hours of the day show, will be required for entry. brooklynbowl.com/nashville/safety
  • Two 20-year-olds have been charged after an Oct. 1 alleyway shooting near Lincoln Tech.
  • Gerst Haus has been demolished.

Love Buzz

Hammock

When the weight of the world begins to feel a bit too heavy and words cease to bring any comfort, there is Hammock. As an instrumental duo, Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson have a keen knack for creating sweeping, atmospheric soundscapes that will envelop you like a warm weighted blanket. 

Hammock has been at it for years — their debut, Stranded Under Endless Sky, was released in 2005 — but 2020 forced the two to create within the confines of unfamiliar territory. For their new album Elsewhere — out November 5 — Byrd and Thompson followed the social-distancing requirements of the past 19 months and composed the songs from their respective home studios.

The first single, “Ineffable” — defined by Merriam-Webster as “incapable of being expressed in words” — is slow and at times somber, but not without hope. I recommend listening to it undisturbed — it’s only three minutes long. Turn off all other devices around you, sit back in your chair or lay down on your bed or couch and close your eyes. That’s what I did earlier this week, during one of the fits of autumn rain, and it was the first time I’ve felt truly calm in months.

Pre-order Elsewhere on Bandcamp here.

“Love Buzz” is curated by contributor Megan Seling.