Rippy’s new canopy causes clash with preservationists

Monday, June 14, 2010 at 11:30am

Another development-versus-historic preservation clash is brewing on Broadway, this time at Rippy’s Smokin’ Bar & Grill.

Since March, the popular restaurant and bar at the corner of Broadway and Fifth Avenue has covered its upstairs rooftop patio with a temporary white plastic canopy. The owners erected the covering without applying for a building permit, and the canopy violates the district’s historic overlay.

The Metro Historic and Zoning Commission staff called the canopy “visibly jarring” in its analysis.

Rippy’s legal representatives are now requesting a permit to construct a brown or black canvas canopy, and attorney Shawn Henry said they have also offered to replace the iron railing with brick in an attempt to improve the aesthetics.

“The facade of that building would get taller and thus there would be some measurable reduction of the appearance of that canopy,” Henry said.

But Tim Walker, executive director of the historic zoning commission, said Rippy’s proposal isn’t sufficient. When the commission takes up the matter at its June 16 meeting, the commission’s staff is expected to recommend disapproval of the proposal.

“They’re trying to build kind of a poor-man’s second story,” Walker said. “If they want additional seating, there are ways to do it and comply and be respectful with the architectural integrity of the district.”

The commission’s staff has suggested four alternatives:

One scenario would allow Rippy’s to build the new canvas tent, but with two caveats: The canopy would be required to be no larger than 15-feet by 15-feet –– much smaller than the patio floor –– and would have to go in the far southeast corner of the terrace.

The bar could also build a full second story, according to the staff. Or if Rippy’s preferred, they could construct just the walls and windows of a second floor, without building a roof. Under this plan, the terrace would mirror that of Bailey’s Pub & Grille, also on Broadway.

The fourth option suggested by the commission’s staff is to build an awning, similar to the one the restaurant used years ago.

But Henry said Rippy’s would have some options if the commission rejects its request.

“The alternative, of course, if this is denied is the installation of a temporary tent,” Henry said. “They could install a tent of comparable size for periods of no more than 90 days.”

4 Comments on this post:

By: may not on 6/14/10 at 12:47

Let me see if I've got this straight. Jimmy Buffett gets to put a bunch of garage doors across the street level, front side of his Broadway joint, but Rippy's - a long-time and positive presence on Broad - can't put a lousy canopy on the second-story?

For a city still licking its chops after millions of tourist dollars were dropped here this weekend, guvmint better work with merchants a little better or we could soon see peep-shows and check-cashing fronts back on lower Broad. Jimmy Buffett ain't gonna last forever selling $14 hamburgers in a location with a bad track record and no parking.

Let's meet local merchants more than half way so tourists have something else to say about Nashville besides how gawd-awful the heat and humidity are!

By: Lance724 on 6/14/10 at 2:01

Are you serious? They aren't garage doors, they're large panes of glass that opens up, not a rooftop plastic tarp. Sounds like this is more of a hit job on Margaritaville then anything. And why are you bringing up the building itself? Rippy's has NO parking, just like everyone else downtown. And there's no bad track record at that building, Planet Hollywood went bust all around the country not just here, and then bethel church was renting it out forever. So enjoy the crappy ribs at rippys while i'm bouncing my head to buffet in the breeze while eating a cheeseburger in paradise.

By: skeptic1 on 6/15/10 at 7:16

The historic zoning commission just likes to throw their weight around trying to puff up their own image. How historically acurate are they proposing that the downtown area be? 1860, 1890, 1920, 1950. If their purpose is to restrict trade of the businesses in the area, they are well on their way.

By: global_citizen on 6/15/10 at 7:22

To may not: I didn't realize being in business just a few years constitutes "a long time". For most of the time I've been in Nashville, the building where Rippy's is now was an abandoned and neglected eye sore. So yes, Rippy's is an improvement over that. But let's not overstate their contribution to the area.

I have nothing against Rippy's (except bad service and forgettable food), but I do have a problem with businesses that think they can live by their own rules, even knowing they opened in an area with historic zoning, and then whine like they're being persecuted unfairly when they're called to account.