Investors in a future Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Café on Broadway downtown may have to tweak parts of their building design to comply with the area’s historic zoning overlay.
Nashville’s much-anticipated Margaritaville Café, a beach-themed chain restaurant named after the famous gulf-and-western entertainer, is slated to go inside an 18,000-square-foot structure built in 1860 that previously housed Global Café and Planet Hollywood.
The structure, situated in the heart of the city’s honky-tonk district, falls within the Broadway Historic Preservation overlay, which was created in 2007 as a compromise to historic preservationists for stomaching a proposal for a Westin hotel that was never built.
Needing clearance for construction, the restaurant team took their design schemes last week to the Metro Historic Zoning Commission where the applicants deferred their plan one meeting after the commission’s staff recommended changes to comply with the overlay. The proposal will go back before the commission next month.
The staff cited the need to alter specifications for the restaurant’s proposed signs –– height reductions and the removal of moving and lights, for example –– and to scrap plans to replace the existing storefront with what’s known as a nanawall. Basically, the nanawall would act as a sliding windowed-wall, which would be kept open during warm weather.
Mark Bloom, a partner at Corner Partnership and co-owner of the building, called the sign changes “workable,” but said he and others “feel pretty strongly” about the need for the nanawall to make the restaurant more accessible to patrons.
“That’s a big one for us,” Bloom said of the nanawall. “There’s not many $10 million investments on Lower Broadway. This is a major investment ... It needs to be done right.
“If we come to an agreement, then everything will move forward, but nothing’s a given,” he added. “I think that there’s probably a way to meet in the middle to get it done.”
Tim Walker, executive director of the historic zoning commission, called the Margaritaville Café team “great to work with,” but pointed out the proposed nanawall would not mimic the original storefront and therefore would not comply with the historic overlay.
“We’re there to protect the character of the building,” Walker said.
Bloom and others had originally sought to begin construction on Nashville’s Margaritaville in April, and to open the restaurant by the end of the year.