May Town Center plan resurfaces in downsized form

Monday, November 15, 2010 at 7:53pm

May Town Center appears poised for a comeback — again.

Developer Jack May told The City Paper on Monday he’s been having conversations about a downsized version of the enormous mixed-used project, at one time proposed for 500 acres on his property in the rural Bells Bend community. May said a “dramatically smaller” proposal could be submitted to the Metro Planning Commission within “the next month or so,” but acknowledged the holiday season could push it back.

Though May declined to give a number of acres for the revamped project, he said the scaled-back proposal would require only one bridge to cross the Cumberland River. The previous proposal required at least two bridges.

“We just know ‘dramatic,’” May replied when asked the extent of the project’s downsizing. “I would say [a] 5, 10, 15 percent [reduction] is certainly not dramatic.”

A reignited May Town pitch would in effect be the project’s third go-around, but the first to be significantly altered from the original version.

The planning commission 18 months ago narrowly shot down an initial proposal for the controversial $4 billion mixed-use project, which drew strong opposition from Bells Bend residents, environmentalists and urban advocates. May revived the proposal last winter, but pulled his plans in March after it became clear a crucial zoning-change lacked a Metro Council two-thirds majority needed for approval.

About eight months have passed since May Town was on the table, but May said the project never went away.

“Hopefully, there’s a different view on these things, but we never stopped working on it,” May said.

May cited Mayor Karl Dean’s position on two development issues as reasoning behind bringing back May Town now. According to May, Dean was at the October groundbreaking of developer Bert Mathews’ Buchanan Point, a 179-acre office park in Donelson, presumably showing his support.

May pointed out that Buchanan Point is “five or six miles away from downtown.” Opponents of May Town frequently said Nashville needs to focus on development within its urban core rather than adding to suburban sprawl.

More interestingly, May mentioned Dean’s sudden willingness to remind Nashvillians about the May Town debate in an attempt to boost his case for redeveloping the 117-acre fairgrounds –– the idea that Nashville leaders must do something to lure corporations to increase the city’s tax base. The mayor, along with others in his administration, has said the fairgrounds is an ideal location for corporate office space.

“It was interesting to me to certainly see our name tossed out there again as people are debating issues,” May said of Dean’s recent discussion of May Town. “We took it as a positive. It seems the mayor has changed his view.”

During the May Town debate, Dean was noncommittal about his stance. In the mayor’s defense, he has referred to the fairgrounds as infill development, which some would say is different from building in rural Bells Bends.

“We’re glad to see the debate is now discussing corporate relocations, which was our whole point of this project, but we probably just did not do a good job at letting people understand this is about Davidson County having places versus everyone goes to Williamson County,” May said.

Metro Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr., who represents the Bells Bend area, said May has contacted him about a downsized May Town project.

Matthews said he would not move forward with any zone change to accommodate the project until he receives feedback from Bells Bend residents and others.


14 Comments on this post:

By: nature on 11/15/10 at 9:02

AGAIN? This guy just doesn't understand. People are not going to allow this to happen. And any money that would go be raised by taxes would be wasted in court fighting for this man's argument to build this waste of uhm, cow poop. Go away Mr.May. Go to some other town and push your b.s. People, stand up to these this man. Do not let this him build his crap in our community.
I just thought of something. He can build his piece of crap on Mayor Dean's front yard. I'll go for that.

By: topthinker on 11/15/10 at 9:33

Dear Jack and Frank: The neighbors are fully behind a downsized development that fits our existing Neighborhood Plan, which you are welcome to read on line at the planning commission website.

This would include no sewers, no road changes, no density greater than 1 house per2 acres, no bridge, and no commercial development that is not completely consonant with this plan.

We're looking forward to a downsized plan that consists of an inn, a small gourmet restaurant, and fifteen elegant homes.

Although I know that neither of you were ever present at any of the lengthy neighborhood meetings where the plan was developed (or at any other neighborhood meeting, for that matter), Mr. Giarratana was there, at least some of the time, and should have filled you boys in.

By: @antiochchicken on 11/15/10 at 10:17

By: bfra on 11/16/10 at 3:12

Why shouldn't May jump on the wagon? Karl is selling Nashville, so everybody that has a "pig in a poke" to sell, that can pad Karl's pockets, should jump in!

By: topthinker on 11/16/10 at 7:14

Dear Frank and Jack:

Love--in this case, for yourselves and your misbegotten project--has made you blind. Karl ain't on your side, fellas. He's using you as an example of what NOT to do, if Nashville is going to be a great city.

Take my advice--I'm trying to save you from yourselves--and pack up your lawyers, your PR guys, your architects, and your web design team, donate that cowpasture to the city for a park, take your tax deductions, and go back to Belle Meade, Mexico, Switzerland, or any of your other estates. You'll save millions that way.

By: jasonweaver on 11/16/10 at 8:05

You people are the ones who don't get it. You must think we live in the former Soviet Union where the party told you what you can and can't do with your own stuff. Dean screwed himself when he supported his buddy Bert. He opened the door.

By: HokeyPokey on 11/16/10 at 8:11

Pity poor Jack.

Like Jimmie Grainberries' Hill Family, May has a bunch of whiney relatives who want their paydays to continue without having to do much work.

And Giarratana just wants us to worship the ground on which he slips and sides.


By: Activate on 11/16/10 at 8:21

Here's the thing; Bert Matthews did things the right way. He met with the local community SEVENTEEN times and had their approval BEFORE announcing the plans for Buchanan Place.

Mr. May, on the other hand, has tried to push this on the folks in Bells Bend TWICE before without any conversation. Now, on his third try, the only communication he has offered is a vague statement about the reduced size of the project.

There is no comparison. Mr. Matthews is a civic-minded individual, who cares about the local communities that his projects affect. Meanwhile, Mr. May has proven, time and time again, that his only concern is to amass more wealth at the detriment of others.

By: MAmom on 11/16/10 at 8:28

Karl Dean is either stupid and believes "if you build it - they will come." Or he stands to benefit from all this forced development.

This is not grass-roots, organic growth. It is ruthless development against the vast majority of Nashvillians wishes. It ignores the concerns of a substantial part of the community who live around the Fairgrounds, HH , and Bells Bend.

Maytown opponents, sounds like K Dean is coming after you next.

Please come to the Council meeting tonight. Let the Council see that we do not want all this development. Help us save the Fairgrounds or at least defer "redevelopment".

By: Lealand419 on 11/16/10 at 9:37


What part of "No!" does Mr. May not understand? $$$$

By: Kosh III on 11/16/10 at 11:14

"You people are the ones who don't get it. You must think we live in the former Soviet Union where the party told you what you can and can't do with your own stuff. "

You alleged "conservatives" are such fraking hypocrites. You folks demanded that certain citizens be denied the freedom to marry. You deny the right of a woman to control her own body, such as selling physical services, yet it's just fine for a Titan to sell HIS body.
You folks are the soviet-style statists who want to control everything and everyone.

By: JeffF on 11/16/10 at 12:13

Our neighbors in Williamson County thank us daily for the NIMBY anti-development that goes on up here in Nashville. We can say there would be no Cool Springs without Nashville, but does it really matter in the end when they get high-paying, recession resistant jobs in Williamson and we bay billions for cheap hotel and bar jobs. Does it matter when they practice smart growth that increases density to save green space and build residential and commercial projects people want while we talk quaint trolleys and urban decay? Does it matter that Williamson has developers dying to get in while we have MDHA's finger in the pot of every taxpayer forced development failure?

There are too many people here that think they can force all these people and businesses back into Nashville once they get the power they need. Yet the elections that turned Nashville into a blue little island alone in a large red sea should have been an indication that the cultural superiority of the large cities is not coming back anytime soon. The museums and colleges will eventually join the people, jobs, and public schools in the suburbs, but we will have at least prevented Nashville from developing something to rescue it from the inevitable. After all, why do what our immediate neighbors are doing to be successful when we can do what Portland and Charlotte are doing?

Kidnapping public transportation will be the last stand for the urbanistas here in Nashville. After they spend billions of our neighbors money duplicating their current failures on a grander scale (downtown centric rail instead of downtown centric buses) , it will then finally be okay for our neighbors to ignore them. But at least the Nashville "brand" will be preserved even if the Nashville "city" dies a Detroit/Memphis style slow death or a Portland/California style death where the next generation cannot afford to live where they grew up. Maybe our trains will be used to encourage other cities to make the same mistakes.

By: NewYorker1 on 11/16/10 at 1:39

Lord have mercy!!! will these people let the May Town Center idea go? Damn... move on honey. It's not going to happen.

By: WickedTribe on 11/17/10 at 10:55

Isn't this too little too late and completely pointless now that Buchanan Place has already beaten it to the punch?