Matt Charette's restaurants still remain shuttered six months after taking a direct hit from the tornado due to the pandemic. Seen here on March 4, Boston Commons (center left) and Drifters (center right above green dumpster.) Photo: Chuck Allen

East Side Buzz, September 4

Updates, Reopens, Meetings and More — All in the News!

Don’t Miss the Most Recent Issue!
There’s still time to secure your copy of the new issue of The East Nashvillian! This special issue takes a look at how we and our neighbors are navigating the unprecedented events of 2020 through our own perspectives. From the personal and financial devastation of a worldwide pandemic to the struggle for racial justice we’re all just “Feeling the Elephant.” You can pick up your copy at usual distribution points, read it online, or have it delivered directly to your home through The East Nashvillian storefront.

And speaking of issues, our last issue is still available when you place an order for any of the deluxe merch we’re now offering through our webstore. Grab yourself a swank Shelby Bottoms shirt featuring the one and only Golden Pheasant or pay tribute to the East Side’s most famous Street (or is that Avenue? Or Pike?) Or score an East Side pride bandanna that can serve double duty as both a handy face covering or a high-flying freak flag! Show your East Side Pride with fancy duds on your body and a copy of The East Nashvillian on your coffee table. Place your order today!

COVID-19 Updates — Temporary Help & Continued Improvements
Individuals receiving unemployment in Tennessee got a surprise last week when they received catch-up payments of $300 a week for the first three weeks of August. The additional unemployment benefits are being provided by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that draws money from the FEMA Disaster Relief. Since states must apply for additional funding on a week-to-week basis and due to processing times, no one is sure when any additional payments will be made.  The extra benefits have been estimated to last between five and seven weeks.

A new order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended and expanded a moratorium on evictions through the end of 2020 to combat the spread of COVID-19. Millions of evictions for unpaid rent were expected to move forward after a moratorium of evictions from federally financed houses and buildings expired on July 31. The new order applies to all residential properties in the U.S. To qualify, tenants must expect to earn $99,000 or less this year ($198,000 for couples who file taxes jointly), not reported income in 2019, or received did stimulus check earlier this year. Low-cost legal help for dealing with possible evictions is available from the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands.

Nashville continued to hold steady on key metrics this week. As of Thursday, the transmission rate was 0.76, a slight decline after holding steady in 0.8 plus range for several weeks. A total of  646 new cases were reported in the last week. To date, there have been a total of 26,235 cases of COVID-19 reported in Davidson County, with 240 total deaths. More information and updates on Metro’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic are available at asafenashville.org.

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The “Five Points Three” — Still On the Road to Recovery
When the March 3 tornado tore through East Nashville it barely missed the intersection of 11th and Woodland, sparing the geographic “heart” of Five Points, but by veering slightly South it delivered a direct hit to three landmark businesses of the neighborhood — Matt Charette’s trio of eateries: Boston Commons, Beyond the Edge, and Drifters Tennessee Barbeque.

While the destruction of his businesses was personally devastating, Charette says that in many ways, the road back has been more torturous.  “We don’t have a set date to reopen,” Charette says in regards to all three businesses. “The worst part about it is I already set three dates to relaunch, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I’ve had to push those dates back. It’s painful to tell people we’re getting close to relaunching, they get excited, and then I have to disappoint them.”

Charette says that Boston Commons will be the first to reopen, hopefully in a few weeks but experience with busy contractor schedules, delays in material deliveries, codes red tape, and a worldwide pandemic has tempered his optimism with caution. As for Beyond the Edge and Drifters, both of which suffered more extensive damage, the timeline is still unforeseeable. “For the other two I think things will move fast once we can clear three or four major hurdles, but there are still too many factors beyond my control.”

As frustrating as the road back has been, Charette has maintained a firm grip on both his sense of humor and dedication to the community. “I should have waited to repair the outside of the buildings until the last,” he says with a chuckle. “People see the outside is finished and they think the inside is too, but we’re getting there. Community is too important to us. We’ll be back.”

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Preserve Five Points!
In 1990, the MDHA Five Points Redevelopment District was initiated by East Nashville community members with the goal of transforming the Five Points-area. The Redevelopment District is a type of an overlay, that calls for specific pedestrian-friendly types of buildings, uses, and placement of new construction in order to preserve the desired character of the neighborhood. These variances from standard zoning have been instrumental in making Five Points the vibrant district it is today.

But overlays are not forever, the current Redevelopment District is set to expire on December 31, 2020, and the older, car-based zoning will return. To address these concerns, councilperson Brett Withers will be a hosting virtual community meeting on Tuesday, September 8, at 6 p.m. to discuss plans to prepare for the expiration and ways to provide as much continuity as possible through changing base zoning on multiple parcels to align with the Redevelopment District Design Guidelines and Land Use Plan.

The meeting can be accessed through Metro Council Events Page. Don’t forget to attend this important meeting and to have any questions ready. Bookmark the page or visit it now to add it to your calendar.

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Do It Yourself, Help Yourself (and Others!)
While punk rock may be off the table at Drkmttr Collective, the commitment to community action has not wavered. As a result, the local DIY venue has been temporarily transformed into the Nashville Free Store. Inside, you’ll find everything from food to household supplies to clothing, and it’s all FREE to anyone who needs it, no questions asked.

Located at 1111Dickerson Pike, you can check it out every Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  They are also open for donations during the same time as well as on Fridays, 3-6 p.m. You can also donate cash via Venmo (@Nashville-Freestore) and following them on Instagram @nashvillefreestore for updates and a list of the needed items.

Don’t Forget to Vote Early or Absentee!
A reminder that early voting for the November 3 General Election begins on October 14 and will run through October 29. Two additional Early Voting locations have been added for this election — The East Nashville YMCA and Friendship Baptist Church in North Nashville. A complete list of early voting locations and hours is available from the Election Commission’s website.

You can also now request an absentee voting ballot for the November 3 General Election. Although the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned an earlier decision that allowed Tennesseans to vote absentee for any reason, there are still a wide variety of reasons Tennesseans may do so — including having an underlying medical condition that puts you at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or if you are the caretaker of someone with a disability or underlying medical condition.

For more information, a link to the CDC’s list of underlying medical conditions that place you at high risk, and to request an absentee ballot, visit the Davidson County Election Commission. Once obtaining an absentee ballot be sure to mail it in as early as possible to make sure your vote counts.

Quick Bits 

  • According to Mike Grimes, co-owner of The Basement East, the popular live music venue should be structurally ready to reopen by mid-October. While the staff of the BEast is eager to get back to business, Grimes notes that any reopening plans will be contingent on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nashville.
  • Plans for a mix-used building designed by Powell Architecture + Building Studio to be built at 1516 Ordway Place were recently approved by the Metro Historic Zoning Commission. The two-story building, named 16th and Ordway, will offer six residential units and a corner commercial space and will be owned by Capricorn Realty Inc.
  • Construction is underway on The Avery, at 1100 Inglewood Drive. The residential building will be four stories tall and feature 20 condo units, including two penthouses. The residences are now being pre-sold with short-term leasing available.
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