Crews set to demolish Charlotte Avenue church

Monday, May 31, 2010 at 11:45pm

A demolition crew last week marked the end of a three-year wrangle between elders at the Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ and Sylvan Park/Richland Park neighborhood activists over the future of the church, situated at Charlotte and 46th avenues. Beginning with the careful removal of the historic stained-glass windows, the crew was expected to bring the church to a pile of rubble early this week.

The Gothic Revival church was built in 1921 and had become the subject of much furor in recent years, after church elders worked out a deal with developers to put a Rite Aid Pharmacy there. But that deal evaporated under the heat of neighborhood opposition, and elders had been planning to demolish the building since.

The congregation merged with the West Nashville Heights Church of Christ in November 2007 and has been trying to unload the property since. The merged congregation has purchased property in West Meade, where Charlotte Avenue member and building committee Jim Orman said they would build a new church.

Orman said elders are asking $3.75 million for the parcel of land. Nearby properties have recently sold for significantly less than that per square foot; Orman called the asking price “competitive.”

Orman blamed Metro Councilman Jason Holleman for inflaming the rhetoric over the Rite-Aid deal. Holleman was largely responsible for the push to save the church building from the wrecking ball.

“We have been advised that there is such a cloud over the building that nobody in their right mind would buy it,” Orman said when asked why they bulldozed the church.

Holleman said he would’ve liked to find a developer to do infill at the church building; the actual parcel of property contains other buildings and a parking lot. He said there were rezoning options that could’ve allowed for a creative reuse of the building.

“I think it’s a tremendous loss for our neighborhood, and it’s a blow to the redevelopment potential along Charlotte Avenue,” Holleman said. “That corner really is sort of a prominent feature, both on the corridor and for the neighborhood.”

Orman said the group doesn’t have a buyer for the property.

18 Comments on this post:

By: fredkoller on 6/1/10 at 6:11

It's a sad loss.
The building would have made a great Tennessee Artisan Center for travelers on I-40. Can something be done about the Herman's building next to Southern Thrift that's been vacant for almost 20 years or some of the other properties across from the park that appear to be abandoned ? I own Rhino Books and believe that Charlotte can be returned to being a commercial center.


By: rf on 6/1/10 at 6:19

This is yet another piece of Nashville's history and architecture destroyed to make way for an empty parking lot, fast food eyesore or a Walgreens. Why Is Nashville so flippant with its architectural and cultural history? Take a look at the "Nashville - Then And Now" book. Nearly every architectural example in the book, some of which were breathtaking, has a footnote detailing the date it was razed instead of a photograph showing the building as it stands today. The other books in the same series from other cities in the US and around the world actually show most of their historical buildings then AND now. The list of buildings and entire neighborhoods demolished in the 45 years I've lived in Nashville is tragically long. With very few exceptions they were replaced with parking lots, strip malls or chain stores. We owe it to future generations to preserve Nashville's history and neighborhood continuity. If we continue destroying our architecture, we will be indistinguishable from the ever-growing homogenized communities around America.

By: danwcook4 on 6/1/10 at 7:04

The Church has made a fateful decision and one the elders will have to live with. As the market validates the fact that their ask of $3.75 mm is over twice what a buyer will pay for the property, they elders will realize that the structure did not reduce the value of the property and that they destroyed one of the few remaining historic structures of note in the city - and their own church legacy - for nothing. If fact, the value of the property has now been reduced by both the cost of the demolition and the loss of the unique structure.

They have also physically left the neighborhood that supported the church for almost 100 years poorer and less able to redevelop without the anchor that the structure had become. It is little wonder that the church has had to downsize and join another congregation; the younger generations find nothing inspiring about this sort of legacy.

By: JeffF on 6/1/10 at 7:31

Once again a Metro council member gets slapped down while attempting to take away property rights. At least this time it did not cost all of us a fortune in legal fees like the Harding Academy NIMBY fiasco. It did apparently cost us some sales and property tax revenues though.

This time we got lucky, the owners were able to properly discern just "old" instead of the constantly ranted "historic".

Note to council people, please do the job you were elected for, serving the people. I am sure there was a lot of human suffering going on somewhere in Holleman's district that needed attending to more than a somewhat old and empty building. You lost while tilting at windmills and wasted a lot of resources doing so.

By: dogmrb on 6/1/10 at 8:51

JeffF: please just stay downtown at the Titans stadium or out in Williamson County. Some of us who live in Jason's district really do care about our neighborhood's archtectural character and history.

By: DDG on 6/1/10 at 10:31

This was a beautiful building. I've lost all respect for those that greedily chose to do this instead of using their brains and coming up with a solution that benefited everyone. We need laws to protect the few buildings we have left that are of this era.

By: HokeyPokey on 6/1/10 at 10:56

Earth to CityPaper.

On my very iPhone I have a picture, taken after 1000 hours this date, of the fully-intact Church-0-Christ on Charlotte's Pike, no rubble, no trouble, no bubbles.

Fact check anyone?

By: danica7 on 6/1/10 at 11:16


OMG...It's a miracle!... the $ the elders have been praying for!
They will come from near and far to view the church that raised itself from the ashes!
I attended this church as a child with my grandmother in the fifties and these are the people that scared me away from organized religion for life. I'm not surprised by their actions..but.the building really should be saved like all of those "baptized" there...And where the Historical Commission in all of this?

By: Chich on 6/1/10 at 11:49

That soon-to-be vacant lot at 46th & Charlotte is Councilman Jason Holleman's fault. They could have had a new Rite Aid Pharmacy on that corner, but Councilman Holleman deliberately interfered with the Church's deal with Rite Aid.

The Church congregation, having vacated its crumbling building on that corner, reached an agreement to sell its property in 2008. But the self-serving Holleman personally disagreed with their choice of buyer. In his attempt to prevent the property from becoming a new Rite Aid Pharmacy, Holleman drafted two restrictive Zoning Bills (#2008-114 and 141) without ever notifying these property owners of his actions nor holding any prior community meetings whatsoever. The Church had to contact Councilman Holleman for an explanation!

Both of Holleman's Zoning bills were against the wishes of these property owners. But Jason Holleman didn't care about that. His two Bills were for his own interests. He wanted control to the property. So Holleman drafted his restrictive Zoning Bills to encumber the property and drive away the Church property's buyer, Rite Aid Pharmacy. This torpedo attack worked. Their buyer walked away from the deal.

Neither of Holleman's Zoning Bills had any merit whatsoever. Holleman himself illustrated that fact. As soon as his true objective was met, Holleman withdrew both his Zoning Bills. Holleman abused his position as Metro Councilman. As a result, these property owners have been burdened with continued maintenance expenses on the property and a softer Real Estate market ever since. And Councilman Jason Holleman has defined himself as an enemy of commerce in District 24.

Want more proof? Just take a drive out Charlotte Avenue. Starting from the downtown area, what do you see? Vibrant activity and fresh commercial investment. Until you hit Holleman's District at 42nd Ave North. Then, abruptly, it's vacancy and neglect. Why is that? It's because many would-be investors and entrepreneurs watched and listened as Holleman sabotaged the Rite Aid deal. Holleman's message to potential investors: "Get Out & Stay Out!"

The best deterrent to crime is not the Police nor the Legal System; those entities only react after a crime has been committed. The best deterrent to crime is Commerce. As a Commerce increases, activity and occupancy rates increase, and crime decreases. Commerce is the mainspring of our community's economy, yet Councilman Holleman has obstructed commerce on the Charlotte Avenue corridor. The result is vacant commercial properties increased crime.

But in a perfect illustration of reaping what one sows, Holleman may soon notice the new political slogan currently gaining traction for 2011: "Anyone but Holleman".

By: danica7 on 6/1/10 at 12:00


Is leasing the property from the owners off the table?
Couldn't it have been generating some income all this time?

By: CitizensWin on 6/1/10 at 3:39

I live in a town of idiots with bulldozers and wrecking balls

2 examples of Nashville History

"In other words, the Polk Place mansion survived the Civil War, only to be torn down so that a small apartment building could be built on the site."

"In 1979 the former Tennessee Governor's Mansion was slated for demolition to make way for a Popeye's Fried Chicken outlet. ...

And then in the for what it's worth category,
(585 Million Dollars est.), the demolition of 16 acres downtown Nashville to make room for the Music City Center that promises to be

'Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.'

Over And Over And Over And Over Again

By: on 6/1/10 at 5:08

judyboodo Chich, makes more sense than anyone else on this subject. The councilman made a complete mess by trying to change the seller/buyer exchange. It was none of his business. Charlotte Ave. is a disaster, vacant buildings and lots, no prospects for any improvement. Too many progressives on the voting roles of this district. Not enough common sense business people to keep something like this from happening. Don't know what you did before coming to the public trough councilman, but you need to go back.

By: Nashvegan on 6/2/10 at 11:40

Think about this....a property owner wants to sell their property. The city says "No, we don't want you to because we really like it, and it's a really old, pretty building." Never mind that the neighborhood around it has changed drastically in the last 50 years (and I grew up in Charlotte Park, so I am very familiar with it). The church has had to make changes to survive - merging with another congregation, moving to where land is more affordable, et. al. I don't see why Metro or anyone else should have a say in this. As long as it meets zoning standards, they should be able to do whatever they want with the property. If you don't like it, you should have bought the property from them before they tore the church down (or before they do, that seems to be in doubt), and restore it or use it yourself. If you can't or didn't, you had your chance.

By: AH80 on 6/2/10 at 12:31

After reading Sarah Foster Kelley's "West Nashville" book, I was amazed to see the transformation of a once vibrant and aesthetically pleasing area, to the state that the Charlotte corridor now stands. The destruction of this church is just another step in the wrong direction.

I will admit, wholeheartedly, that I don't fully understand all the legal and financial aspects of this deal. I'm sure both parties are in the right (and wrong for that matter). However, one cannot deny the fact that this area needs to be cleaned up.

It is a perfect spot for entrepreneurs (like the brave folks at Miel) to start a cafe, coffee shop, etc... The Dark Horse Theater as well as The West Nashville Farmers Market are great examples of steps in the right direction...The potential of this area frustrates me as it continues to decline.

Let's just hope something worthwhile takes the church's place.

By: Chich on 6/3/10 at 12:36

Nashvegan's post is insightful. This is private property. Such an attack upon private property is a disgrace. It should be recognized as an assault upon private ownership in general, as our local investors are well aware.

But please realize, Nashvegan, that this episode of deliberate interference was not launched by the "city" or by "metro". This attack was perpetrated by Councilman Jason Holleman alone. Furthermore, Holleman's actions directly contradict the Mayor's strategic vision.

Mayor Dean's vision for Corridors (such as Charlotte Avenue, Murfreesboro Pike and Nolensville Road) is to become, quote, "home to future mixed-use developments, especially on the commercial end".

While it doesn't appear that Vacant Lots are part of the Mayor's vision, they do seem to be Holleman's goal for the District 24 stretch of Charlotte Avenue. Fortunately, the 'Pike' will be here long after Holleman's gone -- and Charlotte Pike's commerce, development and appearance will all no doubt improve.

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