Nashville needs to take lead in downtown living

Thursday, February 20, 2003 at 1:00am

There is an old saw about the pecking order of cities in Tennessee.

Memphis looks down on Nashville. Nashville looks down on Knoxville. And nobody even considers Chattanooga.

Well, readers of The City Paper were treated this week to a two-part series by reporter William Williams that conclusively shows that at least in the area of residential living downtown, we are last in the state.

The series talked about initiatives in Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga that not only brought residents back downtown to live, work and play, but also of cohesive plans to tie the elements of a downtown together.

In all three cities, creative financing options are available to help developers restore old buildings and create new ones. The cities take advantage of their natural environments to create pleasant housing alternatives. In Memphis, homes and condominiums line the banks of the Mississippi River. In Chattanooga, a pedestrian bridge leads to trendy downtown shops. In Knoxville, the South Gay Street district mixes commercial and residential.

Nashville has all the components to pull alongside her sister cities. We have an impressive arena, beautiful new library, and attractions like the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the soon-to-be-built Symphony Hall. While Second Avenue has seen better days, there are still attractions for both tourist and downtown dweller.

The Civic Design Center is working on The Plan of Nashville, a consolidated 18-month effort to develop design principles for Nashville

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