Even if Council allocates $75 million for convention center land acquisition next week, Metro government still won’t have all the property it needs to make the project work.
The land acquisition bill, which will be before Council on third and final reading, would give the Metro Development and Housing Agency $75 million and condemnation powers to start buying land where the proposed new convention center would go.
But the legislation does not cover land needed for the extension of Korean Veterans Boulevard, which will act as a service road to the proposed $635 million Music City Center.
That road extension project will cost an estimated $23 million, according to an e-mail from MDHA Director Phil Ryan. The KVB extension would be funded with 20 percent local dollars, according to Ryan’s e-mail, leaving Metro with a projected bill of about $4.6 million.
Metro must also purchase land for the proposed public/private hotel, which will be attached to the Music City Center project. The parking lot behind the Country Music Hall of Fame in SoBro is the proposed site for the hotel.
Additionally, Metro must purchase land to house the new Nashville Electric Service substation, which would be moved from its current site in the convention center footprint. MDHA said Tuesday the land purchase for the new substation site would cost about $1 million, but the funds are included in the $75 million Council could approve next week.
District 6 Councilman Mike Jameson was unhappy with the news that Metro still wouldn’t have all the land it needed even if Council approves the land acquisition bill next week.
Jameson pointed out the fact that a final application for the Metro-approved Tourism Development Zone still has not been submitted to the state Department of Finance and Administration. Jameson was also concerned that Metro would be giving up an unknown amount of local option sales tax, which would go to public schools, but instead will be collected to pay back debt on the convention center.
“It's a little disconcerting to hear we may be asked to do this again soon,” Jameson said. “It was bad enough to learn that we don't have a TDZ in place, and that there's no finalized Master Development Plan, and that education funds aren't necessarily spared. And now this. There's only so much we can do on blind faith.”
The TDZ allows Metro to collect all the additional sales tax revenue within the zone, which comes in above the baseline year. The TDZ map was approved earlier this year.
The $75 million for land acquisition would come exclusively from tourism-related taxes and fees approved by Council last year.
MDHA spokesman Joe Cain pointed out the KVB extension is a Public Works project, which has been coming down the pipeline for some time. Critics say the project is nothing more than a service road for the convention center.