April 21, 2015
Convention Center Redevelopment Would Benefit Nashville
The Nashville Downtown Partnership's 2008 comprehensive retail study confirmed that downtown Nashville is dramatically underserved with urban retail. This lack of critical mass of retail remains a priority concern, and without an appropriate mix of retail, downtowns cannot be sustainable.
A strong thriving urban core is unquestionably a key factor in maintaining our momentum. For Nashville to compete successfully with cities like Austin, Charlotte, and Indianapolis for a young, educated workforce, downtown needs more diverse retail options.
Many other groups agree. Our 2014 survey of downtown residents identified additional retail options as one of the top three improvements needed. The demand for more downtown retail comes from people living downtown and in the region, as well as from overnight tourists, over 55,000 downtown workers, and students in dormitories across the city. Already, with downtown occupying just 0.5 percent of the land area in Davidson County, it generates 18 percent of the county's retail taxes.
As Nashville continues to boom and more people, businesses, visitors and convention goers intersect downtown, we must expand the retail options strategically or risk losing our momentum.
Nashville has a rich history of great civic and business leadership and great public and private collaboration. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the plan to redevelop the Nashville Convention Center site at Fifth and Broadway.
The Nashville Convention Center Redevelopment delivers a quantum leap for downtown retail by adding 205,000 square feet of dynamic new retail space. This is precisely what downtown residents and employees have clamored for repeatedly in our surveys. As our hotel, restaurant, and entertainment offerings expand, this development provides the extra bump in options that visitors may need to justify staying longer in town or in deciding to bring the whole family for a meeting or conference. And when new spending occurs, additional sales tax revenue flows into Metro's general fund to pay for schools and other essential services.
The developers Spectrum | Emery and OliverMcMillan have been open and enthusiastic about their vision to add retail that resonates just as much with locals who live or work downtown, as it will with visitors in for a conference at Music City Center, in town for a Predators game or a concert at The Ryman.
They want to mix in nationally desired retailers with authentic local flavor that cannot be properly replicated anywhere else. This will be a destination that amplifies everything else we have worked for to complete the downtown experience.
Metro Nashville and the Mayor's office are to be commended for coming to terms with a world-class development team and creating a partnership where all stakeholders can be certain this pivotal plot of land is utilized in the most complete and forward thinking way possible.
We hope members of Metro Council will concur with our enthusiasm for this project as they study the plans in more depth and talk with the passionate people behind it. And that they too will welcome what the Nashville Convention Center Redevelopment offers to all of Nashville, in retail, jobs, infrastructure and opportunity.
As an organization that's long understood the need for downtown retail to secure the long-term success of Nashville, we couldn't ask for anything more from this pivotal redevelopment that sets the tone for the future of our city.
Thomas D. Turner is president & CEO of the Nashville Downtown Partnership.
Link to the original article here.