Where will urban infill boom?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 at 1:00am

A friend called recently to say she had dreamed of a dramatically reinvented Nashville - one alive with sidewalk cafes, pocket parks, public art, water fountains and sculpture.

In her dream, folks were zipping about on bikes, skateboards and motor scooters. Small shops offered goods and services to citizens, many of whom lived above the merchants' spaces. The "new Nashville" was funky, vibrant and densely populated, its denizens urbane and purposeful.

My friend vividly dreamed that places such as Five Points, Morgan Park, 12South, Jefferson Street, Midtown, The Gulch, Cleveland Park, Germantown, SoBro, Cameron-Trimble and West End Park had been transformed into bustling commercial-residential enclaves similar to those found in progressive places such as Seattle, Portland and Minneapolis.

Can my good friend's dream be realized?

Absolutely.

Visualize, if you will, the seven major geographic areas of Nashville's urban core and ponder which will be changed most significantly by infill construction projects.

Imagine, for example, Germantown's gritty industrial area, its many weed-strewn lots now teaming with mixed-use buildings featuring shops, offices and residences.

Do you like this vision?

If so, take a second to vote in the poll located to the right of this article, at which you will find the seven areas. Choose the one you think is primed to be the most overhauled by eye-catching developments during the next 10 years. And don't limit yourself to sheer number of projects. You may foresee, say, South Nashville unveiling only 10 projects by 2015. However, a modest number of developments could result in a major impact for that often overlooked part of town.

For the vote, we will designate the areas as follows:

  • North Nashville (bordered by the Cumberland River, Metro Center Boulevard, the Tennessee State University campus, and Charlotte Avenue/James Robertson Parkway)
  • East Nashville (bordered by the Cumberland, Interstate 65, and Briley Parkway)
  • West Nashville (bordered by Charlotte, Wedgewood/Blakemore/31st, 12th Avenue South, Woodmont Boulevard, and White Bridge Road)
  • South Nashville (bordered by the inner interstate loop, the Cumberland River, 12th Avenue South, Woodmont/Thompson Lane, and Murfreesboro Road)
  • Midtown (bordered by the inner interstate loop, 12th Avenue South, Wedegwood/Blakemore/31st, and Charlotte)
  • SoBro/The Gulch (bordered by the inner interstate loop and Broadway)
  • The Central Business District (bordered by Broadway, 12th Avenue, First Avenue, and Charlotte/James Robertson)

    A few things to consider:

    First, vote based primarily on expected new construction, with a de-emphasis on potential rehabbing or modifying of existing buildings.

    Second, the infill construction you envision for the future must be urban and accommodate pedestrians as much as motorists. So don't factor into the equation East Nashville's Main Street possibly luring an Applebee's with towering signage and a lagoon of asphalt parking.

    Third, consider possible mixed-use projects more so than single-family homes.

    Last, think boldly. Midtown or SoBro are safe votes, but North Nashville, for example, could be the true hidden gem - one ripe for a mini-explosion.

    The City Paper Web site is ready for your vote. I'll provide the results and some comments in the next column.

    William Williams writes about Nashville's man-made environment. He can be contacted at wwilliams@nashvillecitypaper.com.

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