Councilman tries to save historic church building

Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 8:43pm

As the Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ building nears demolition, Metro Councilman Jason Holleman is hoping to reach a last-minute deal to save the historic structure.

Elders of the church have maintained selling the near-90-year-old vacant building at the corner of Charlotte and 46th avenues is imperative to pay off a mortgage for a new building farther west of town, where the church has combined with another congregation and presently meets. The church has filed for a demolition permit.

But losing the structure —which is not protected by an overlay — comes to the dismay of historic preservationists, including Holleman, who as representative of the surrounding Sylvan Park neighborhood has made no secret over recent years about his desire to preserve the building, which is eligible for recognition by the National Register of Historic Places.

If the congregation agrees to preserve the church building — and reduce its asking price to make it more marketable for a future rehab — then Holleman said he would sponsor legislation to “up-zone” the church’s other property down the road at 5807 Charlotte Ave., accommodating it for a dense office and/or residential use, which he said could improve its sale potential. The zone-change would be consistent with the recently adopted West Nashville Community Plan.

“We’re still holding out hope that they’re going to look at this deal,” Holleman said. “They’ve said they would consider it.”

Jim Dillingham, a leading church elder, could not be reached for comment.

Three year ago, church leaders sought to demolish the historic building to make way for a new Rite Aid pharmacy store, prompting Holleman to file a bill to prevent its demolition. As the process dragged out, the development team representing Rite Aid withdrew its proposal. (The company also withdrew plans for Rite Aids at two other locations around the same time.)

“The church is an iconic building on a corridor at a prominent location,” Holleman said. “I just think it contributes to the overall character of the corridor. I think what happens on that corner is going to be a benchmark for what happens, either positive or negative, throughout the rest of that corridor.”

Holleman said several parties have expressed interest in retrofitting the structure.

8 Comments on this post:

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/29/10 at 9:23

OK, i want all the folks who want to "preserve" the fairgrounds (meaning racetrack) to get behind this full force!

By: DustyU on 1/29/10 at 9:31

hi blanket - so this is where you're hiding :)
Another bureaucrat trying to control what an owner does with their property :(

By: HokeyPokey on 1/29/10 at 10:01

What a whiner you are, DustyU. This is a much larger issue than simple prapety rights.

By: BEOWULF on 1/29/10 at 10:35

BEOWULF: Dusty-U WHO? U are another 'to hell w/anything of historic/intrinsic value' person. Jim Reeves Home/Home Depot?? Now we walk through "hollowed" halls, buy lumber & nails, and try 2 remember a Country Legend. What progress!!!

By: AmyLiorate on 1/29/10 at 10:53

Most property owners, like the one mentioned in this article, are willing to work with someone if a person can be found that wants to take care of an old building.

I value our historic buildings and cities make overlays that help protect them. But when you force your will on a person's property what power do you have to outweigh their rights?

Should the church go bankrupt keeping roof leaks repaired for a place they no longer meet in? Should they be forced to use their money to keep the heat on so the pipes don't freeze?

How much are you willing to chip in?

By: HokeyPokey on 1/29/10 at 11:45

1) drain the pipes then you don't have to keep on the heat.

2) one bankrupt church-0-christ is a good start.

By: pswindle on 1/29/10 at 11:49

I hope it is saved, we can't afford to keep losing our historical sites.

By: nvestnbna on 1/29/10 at 12:00

This is a classic example of one of our problems in historic preservation. Jason, should have been more engaged in this rather that letting the church flail in the wind paying, I think someone said, $10,000 per month in debt service. Now that they are almost bankrupt, the building ends up getting lost. That stretch of Charlotte is prime for revitalization. Lots of new residential going in north and the neighborhood seems engaged, they just didn't stay focused to do what was needed to save this building.