Proposed land swap between Metro, state would demolish old Ben West Library

Monday, April 1, 2013 at 5:21pm

A proposed land swap between Metro and the state could result in the demolition of the old Ben West Library building in downtown Nashville.

The building is located at 225 Polk Ave. near the intersection of Eighth Avenue North and Union Street.

The plan, approved by the State Building Commission last week, would swap Metro’s Ben West property for the former Tennessee Preparatory School site off of Foster Avenue.

Metro currently leases the former TPS land and buildings from the state to house the Nashville School of the Arts. The swap will also include another old high school building on the TPS site, which Metro intends on leasing to a charter school, according to building commission relations Executive Director Peter Heimbach.

An ordinance to sublease the “Old High School” to STEM Preparatory Academy will be introduced to the Metro Council on Tuesday.

Heimbach said that Metro would be responsible for razing the Ben West building, formerly a library, under the agreement. The state plans to turn the property into a surface parking lot.

Metro officials couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday afternoon.

The Metro Council would still have to approve the land swap.

The SBC minutes reflect that “both parties desire to accomplish the land swap by February 1, 2014.” 

8 Comments on this post:

By: Jughead on 4/1/13 at 3:42

We need more asphalt downtown. It is beautiful and smells neat in the July sun.

By: govskeptic on 4/2/13 at 5:31

What the state plans to do with that Library building should be known and
considered by the council before taking any action. Some usages might be
desirable overall for the Cityscape others may not be. Location makes it
a very valuable spot.

By: Rocket99 on 4/2/13 at 7:38

Thought there was something the original owners of the property did when it became the library that stated that if it was ever not a library, it went back to the family. This came up whenever the new library was built on Church Street.

By: BigPapa on 4/2/13 at 8:23

While we're swapping land I think the city should sell off Hillsboro HS to the highest bidder.
That's a gold mine and we've got a damn school sitting on it.

By: PillowTalk4 on 4/2/13 at 10:13

It would be shameful for the State to acquire that property from Metro only to tear it down to put in another surface parking lot. Why all of sudden do they need a surface parking lot in that location. The State is already discussing the demolition of the Curdell Hull Building with no specific plans, I assume another
parking lot....

I believe the Ben West Building is currently being used by the Probations Dept. If the city no longer needs that space, it seems to me that several groups have wanted to open various types of museums in the area but can't acquire land or enough funding to do so. The Ben West Building would probably make for a really nice museum.

Nashville, like other cities has to stop allowing blocks of surface parking lots. They are ugly and more importantly inadequate use of land. Like other cities, Nashville should require parking garages to be included with all new construction and they should block any use of land be sold, swaped or traded with the intent of one party to use land for a surface parking lot. That should include the State of TN.

By: not_guilty on 4/2/13 at 3:06

I seem to recall reading a few years ago that the Polk Street property was conveyed with the restriction that the premises must be used for a library. I understood that when the Metro Courthouse was under renovation and the Mayor's Office was temporarily moved to the Polk Street building, there was a small collection still circulating from the basement of the building, in order to satisfy the deed restrictions and avoid the property reverting to the heirs of the grantor.

I suspect that Karl Dean gets his legal guidance from that noted legal authority, Otto Hizzass.

By: pipecarver on 4/2/13 at 6:52

Oh lovely, and now Ladies and Geltleman, we're back to that magical concept known as "Charter Schools." Otherwise understood as being the business of outsourcing the education of our public school students to a private, for-profit entity. A perfect representation of "capitalism" in our country. The only difference here is those of us taxpayers (usually doing everything possible to save our hard earned money) will now be forced to insert the proberial "middleman" into the equation. Those of us who even slept through Basic Economics 101 knows this...anyone...anyone..."Raises the amount we must pay for a given service." Those of us who have ever opened up their own business have in-depth knowledge of just how much money rent adds to our monthly overhead. So if you are in the education industry (business), and you contract with the government (customer) to provide said educational services. And said corporation is receiving "perks" (such as cheap land, cheap rent, taxes)...how does this impact the corporation's bottom line? Good question.

Next piece of state owned property up for grabs? My moneys on the Clover Bottom property. Of course, the state has to finish building those 11-$1.5 Million 4-Bedroom houses in our neighborhoods across Davidson County. This enables them to clear out the remaining 44-residents, thus leaving a perfectly vacant piece of unused state-owned property. Perhaps NOW the powers that be can get that once tabled new high school in Donelson / Hermitage requested a couple of years ago.

By: unmanagedtn on 4/3/13 at 6:55

In an 1889 essay titled “Wealth,” Carnegie explained his "gospel of wealth," which was that those who accumulated such "surplus wealth" as he had done, merely held it in trust for the public good. (Carnegie, Wealth 19) He made no attempt to justify the extreme divisions of rich and poor that capitalism produces, except to say that to change this state of affairs would require a radical change in human nature.
He then went on to examine three different ways by which a wealthy man may dispose of his riches. First, he could hold onto it until his death, leaving it all to his heirs. Carnegie considered this the least desirable result, having seen the unhealthy effects of inherited wealth on the sons of his peers. Second, he could direct that it be given to various charitable and philanthropic efforts after his death, but Carnegie found this unsatisfactory, mainly because the money would have to be entrusted to someone else to carry out the desires of the deceased. The third way, giving the money away while he was still alive to control where it went and to what uses it was put, seemed to him the superior method.

In his opinion, the man who had created the wealth was also the best able to decide where it would do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. (Carnegie, Wealth 26)