Lipscomb wants to buy former Green Hills school building

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 at 1:59pm

Lipscomb University is looking to purchase the old Walter Stokes School building on Belmont Boulevard to house administrative offices and classrooms for the university’s College of Education.

The historic Stokes building, situated across the street from the Lipscomb campus, recently served as temporary space for students of Julia Green Elementary School during its renovation. Today, Lipscomb uses the building’s parking lots.

Earlier this year, the Metro Nashville Board of Education voted to transfer the property from the school district to Metro government. A Metro Council ordinance would declare the Stokes property as surplus, allowing Metro to sell the property, with proceeds going to Metro’s school fund. The bill is up for the second of three votes at Tuesday’s meeting, and is expected to be deferred for one meeting.

Though the property would be subject to a normal bidding process, Lipscomb is believed to be the only party that has indicated interest in purchasing the building.

“The College of Education would definitely be the resident of that building,” said Kim Chaudoin, Lipscomb’s director of communications and marketing.

“We really hope that this works out,” she said. “If everything comes together the way we want it to, there would be some benefit to Metro schools as far as professional development opportunities there.”

According to District 25 Councilman Sean McGuire, who represents the surrounding Green Hills area, the property would likely need to go through a rezoning process for Lipscomb to occupy the building, which could require an extension of Lipscomb’s institutional overlay. If so, the matter would need to go through the Metro Planning Commission and the council.

“Obviously, if we do get to that point, that’s when it would make sense to engage the neighborhood in those conversations,” McGuire said. “But, at this point, it would be premature.”

Like most major proposals inside residential neighborhoods, a revamped Stokes building occupied by Lipscomb may need support from the surrounding community.

“Anecdotally, I’ve heard there would be some concern in the neighborhood of potentially extending the institutional overlay onto that side of Belmont [Boulevard],” McGuire said. “It’s going to be a process, certainly.”

3 Comments on this post:

By: tenn40 on 8/18/10 at 5:59

If the school was originally built with tax money, then the property should be sold and the money used to pay down any metro debt.

By: xhexx on 8/18/10 at 6:21

Why would it need to be rezoned? It's a school now and would still be a school.

By: global_citizen on 8/18/10 at 7:46

To xhexx, you probably don't live in the university area like I do so may not be familiar with the university institutional overlay. Vanderbilt, Belmont, and Lipscomb all have perimeters marked by zoning regulations that determine the borders of their campuses. If they wish to expand to property outside of that perimeter, the property has to be rezoned to be brought into that institutional overlay.

These requests are routinely granted (at least it seems that way in the case of Belmont), but nonetheless they have to go through the formality of rezoning it.