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Guest 5th & Main Urbanite

Jim Cooper Hammered Over Federal Courthouse Site

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Nevin Battiwala has a piece in the print edition of the Nashville Business Journal about the Federal Courthouse project stalled since 2002.

 

One developer wants to build a 300-500 million dollar multi-tower development including high rise hotels, condos, apartments and office,  and Jim Cooper won't even take a phone call. The article further states the Federal Government says there is no longer a need, yet Cooper says we can have a new Federal Courthouse in 3 years. Several business leaders have stated Cooper is being unreasonable about not even entertaining the idea of selling the land.

 

Karl Dean has no comment except to say the land is being wasted and the city is losing money everyday the property stays vacant.

 

The article is extremely detailed. Find a print edition and read it. YOU NEED TO READ THIS!!!!

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^If it wasn't for the imbecilic bigot from Memphis, Cooper would be the worst member of the TN delegation. Has he got some sort of financial stake in the federal courthouse site ? It's time to let it go and let it be properly developed.

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Nevin Battiwala has a piece in the print edition of the Nashville Business Journal about the Federal Courthouse project stalled since 2002.

 

One developer wants to build a 300-500 million dollar multi-tower development including high rise hotels, condos, apartments and office,  and Jim Cooper won't even take a phone call. The article further states the Federal Government says there is no longer a need, yet Cooper says we can have a new Federal Courthouse in 3 years. Several business leaders have stated Cooper is being unreasonable about not even entertaining the idea of selling the land.

 

Karl Dean has no comment except to say the land is being wasted and the city is losing money everyday the property stays vacant.

 

The article is extremely detailed. Find a print edition and read it. YOU NEED TO READ THIS!!!!

I'll pick one up if I get the chance.

As for the government -- one of the oversight committees or whatnot did say there wasn't a pressing need, but I don't think it necessarily kills our ability to get a courthouse.

My guess is Cooper wants to be known for bringing Nashville a new federal courthouse...and that will be his signature piece. Unfortunately, he seems to be stuck with the mindset that waiting in the federal lines of red tape will be enough to get it. If he really wants to get it done, he needs to suck it up and earmark it. I know he doesn't like doing that, but that's what it takes. If he had done that, we would've had a new courthouse probably a decade ago.

As for the developer wanting to build a $300-500 million development...that's interesting. I haven't heard that before. Obviously it is a prime spot, and potentially one of the biggest -- if not the biggest -- lots that can be developed in downtown proper. Did it reveal the name of the developer? That site could potentially support 4 towers. The questions I have are: is a half billion dollar development feasible in this economy (or would the developer be asking for massive TIF)? Would this be all one complex/one phase (which could either be very well done, or a rather tacky looking piece) or multiple independent structures that work together (which would actually be my preference)? Would this be certain doom for the Berger Building (maybe not a gem, but a neat building worth saving IMO)?

--or-- is this just a developer blowing smoke because he wants all or a piece of the property? I have my doubts about a developer spending money on a proposal that is on a potentially untouchable piece of property.

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True that Davy! As a Dem, I am not pleased with him. In the past he called this funding pork and an earmark. Now he WANTS the Feds to fund this rather than private development building something? I thought Blue Dogs like private versus federal money?

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True that Davy! As a Dem, I am not pleased with him. In the past he called this funding pork and an earmark. Now he WANTS the Feds to fund this rather than private development building something? I thought Blue Dogs like private versus federal money?

I think the idea was that when it was Nashville's turn on the list, the Feds would just build the courthouse. I don't think he is opposed to private development at all -- it's probably a matter that he dreamed of being the one to bring us a new courthouse. He had the site and the plans -- all he was waiting on is the funding. Had this happened 10 years ago, I don't think anyone would think to much of it. But now, the site has been sitting there, barely used for anything more than a couple of parking lots -- and Nashville is seeing a surge in urban development. Now, all of a sudden, large pieces of property are highly sought after. Very few things are being done in the core, largely, I believe, because of the expense of the land. This would be an opportunity to change that.

If he continues to play by Blue Dog rules, then the property is just going to sit there until the Nashville Federal Courthouse is well beyond capacity (Feds generally aren't good at forecasting need, and slow moving when the need arises). He should either play by Yellow Dog rules, or give up the land to development, and let the courthouse locate elsewhere when the need arises. The courthouse might have to move outside of downtown at that point...but that's not necessarily the worst thing in the world. Perhaps they could pursue a less expensive piece of land. Perhaps something in the North Capitol area along Jefferson...

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I'll pick one up if I get the chance.

As for the government -- one of the oversight committees or whatnot did say there wasn't a pressing need, but I don't think it necessarily kills our ability to get a courthouse.

My guess is Cooper wants to be known for bringing Nashville a new federal courthouse...and that will be his signature piece. Unfortunately, he seems to be stuck with the mindset that waiting in the federal lines of red tape will be enough to get it. If he really wants to get it done, he needs to suck it up and earmark it. I know he doesn't like doing that, but that's what it takes. If he had done that, we would've had a new courthouse probably a decade ago.

As for the developer wanting to build a $300-500 million development...that's interesting. I haven't heard that before. Obviously it is a prime spot, and potentially one of the biggest -- if not the biggest -- lots that can be developed in downtown proper. Did it reveal the name of the developer? That site could potentially support 4 towers. The questions I have are: is a half billion dollar development feasible in this economy (or would the developer be asking for massive TIF)? Would this be all one complex/one phase (which could either be very well done, or a rather tacky looking piece) or multiple independent structures that work together (which would actually be my preference)? Would this be certain doom for the Berger Building (maybe not a gem, but a neat building worth saving IMO)?

--or-- is this just a developer blowing smoke because he wants all or a piece of the property? I have my doubts about a developer spending money on a proposal that is on a potentially untouchable piece of property.

The article cites several developers and the real estate representative for the 300m-500m development speaks out about what that developer wants. Developers from all over the country are eying that lot.

http://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/print-edition/2013/06/07/court-battle-business-leaders-press.html

 

 

The rest is in the print addition.

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True that Davy! As a Dem, I am not pleased with him. In the past he called this funding pork and an earmark. Now he WANTS the Feds to fund this rather than private development building something? I thought Blue Dogs like private versus federal money?

Cooper had no problem voting for $1 trillion for obamacare. Therein lies his hypocrisy and misapplied reputation for being responsible with federal funds. He's just had a free ride for way too long.

Good job Mr battiwala.

Edited by MLBrumby
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Cooper had no problem voting for $1 trillion for obamacare. Therein lies his hypocrisy and misapplied reputation for being responsible with federal funds. He's just had a free ride for way too long.

Good job Mr battiwala.

Politics aside, I don't think that applies here. I don't think Rep. Cooper opposes government spending on the national scale in the same way he has spoken out against irresponsible pork barrel spending where Reps bring home big government bacon to their individual districts -- sometimes where that sort of government spending is unnecessary. Like it or not, Obamacare is supposed to be for all Americans, not those in a particular district.

--Plus, I think there was probably some pretty strong language from the Democrats that their members should vote in favor of Obamacare, or else potentially lose party backing in elections. That's a matter of party politics.

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Unless you have a print subscription to NBJ, the only place to buy a copy is at the NBJ office.

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True that Davy! As a Dem, I am not pleased with him. In the past he called this funding pork and an earmark. Now he WANTS the Feds to fund this rather than private development building something? I thought Blue Dogs like private versus federal money?

 

I keep thinking this is going to be another Hotel Tulane-style fiasco. A parking lot occupying a key piece of real estate for decades on end. Frankly, I don't want to see the courthouse go there, anyway (especially with that Hampton Inn design). Perhaps place it along a redeveloped stretch of Lafayette (with a drastically reconfigured design, of course).

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I keep thinking this is going to be another Hotel Tulane-style fiasco. A parking lot occupying a key piece of real estate for decades on end. Frankly, I don't want to see the courthouse go there, anyway (especially with that Hampton Inn design). Perhaps place it along a redeveloped stretch of Lafayette (with a drastically reconfigured design, of course).

 

 

Hear! Hear!  That whole mess was mishandled by the local and federal representatives... from Judge Echols... to Senator Frist... and (of most of all) Jim Cooper.  A truly influential power broker in DC would have had that new courthouse built on the corner of Demonbreun and 8th Avenue ten years ago.  I'm sure most of you didn't realize this, but during the first Congress run by Nancy Pelosi, Rep. John Lewis secured over $300 million just for security for the Atlanta federal courthouse.  That was over four years ago... and even by inflation adjustments, the Nashville courthouse would not have been that much.  My former law school buddy is an aide to Rep. David Price, and he said the perception of Cooper among his own party members in Congress is that he is and I quote "is a waste of space".  LOL... it's pretty hilarious to hear the insiders talk about their colleagues.

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Unless you have a print subscription to NBJ, the only place to buy a copy is at the NBJ office.

They sell them at Books a Million.

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Every branch of the Nashville Public Library should have the current NBJ issue.  (back issues, too)

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^If it wasn't for the imbecilic bigot from Memphis, Cooper would be the worst member of the TN delegation. Has he got some sort of financial stake in the federal courthouse site ? It's time to let it go and let it be properly developed.

Except for the other 7 idiots from the Tennessee Congressional delegation who make these two look like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln by comparison.

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Citing the article; the fact he says "three years" make me a bit ill. Three more years of that ugly surface lot? What about our friend Todd who lives across the street and has to look at it another three years! It appears some developers have shovel ready projects for the site.

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Citing the article; the fact he says "three years" make me a bit ill. Three more years of that ugly surface lot? What about our friend Todd who lives across the street and has to look at it another three years! It appears some developers have shovel ready projects for the site.

I wouldn't trust anything that says "shovel ready." Say the government sold the land. I imagine (the way the government works) that the transaction would not be immediate. On top of that, look at the time it takes most Nashville developments to get out of the ground. You would have the obvious wait times for architectural plans (even if the developer has a well thought out concept, I highly doubt they have paid an architect big money to draw up a specific design), plus the wait time for Metro to approve the project. I would say the best case scenario would be at least two years before anything rises up...probably still 3 years.

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I wouldn't trust anything that says "shovel ready." Say the government sold the land. I imagine (the way the government works) that the transaction would not be immediate. On top of that, look at the time it takes most Nashville developments to get out of the ground. You would have the obvious wait times for architectural plans (even if the developer has a well thought out concept, I highly doubt they have paid an architect big money to draw up a specific design), plus the wait time for Metro to approve the project. I would say the best case scenario would be at least two years before anything rises up...probably still 3 years.

 

Better than waiting three years to even start the process.

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I am skeptical that someone has put together solid plans for a building or series of buildings for this site (1) that we haven't even heard rumours about before and (2) that are being held back merely by the Federal Courthouse proposal.  I mean, they must know that it is the federal courthouse site.  It's not like the Feds came in overnight and plucked that site out of the developer's hands through a lightning-fast transaction!  Sure, they could like fantasize about putting something there (don't we all) or have some ideas for that site.  But frankly, there are still lots and lots of surface lots in the CBD and Sobro.  If the feds won't play on this particular lot, go purchase one of those other lots and build your project there. 

 

I wish that the feds would do a #2 or get off the put already, but this sounds like posturing to me.  Sort of like Tower suddenly announcing to a jury that they were planning to build a skyscraper office building in the footprint of the Music City Center but then the city suddenly "ruined their plans" with something that had been studied as far back as the Purcell administration. 

Edited by bwithers1

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Except for the other 7 idiots from the Tennessee Congressional delegation who make these two look like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln by comparison.

 

Oh, yeah. Pity we can't all have a delegation of intellectual and moral giants like Massachusetts has to match the 2 in the TN minority. :rolleyes:

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Well, one thing the Feds could do is this:  Buy the property the old credit union sits on and rebuild their parking garage there and then demolish the old garage and take the back part of the Frist center parking lot and attach a new building to the old. It would have the proper sit backs in the rear and no side streets to worry about. Then Metro or Frist could do a parking garage on the other side of 8th where the Cummins Station lot is for parking at the Frist. That would be a lot better than the lot they currently have. As a matter of fact that could increase the size of the new building and incorporate all the office of the old CH into the new and then demolish the old to obtain the set back they need. Then we would get a much larger court House in the process.

 

Just an alternative and a lot of wishful thinking.

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Well, one thing the Feds could do is this:  Buy the property the old credit union sits on and rebuild their parking garage there and then demolish the old garage and take the back part of the Frist center parking lot and attach a new building to the old. It would have the proper sit backs in the rear and no side streets to worry about. Then Metro or Frist could do a parking garage on the other side of 8th where the Cummins Station lot is for parking at the Frist. That would be a lot better than the lot they currently have. As a matter of fact that could increase the size of the new building and incorporate all the office of the old CH into the new and then demolish the old to obtain the set back they need. Then we would get a much larger court House in the process.

 

Just an alternative and a lot of wishful thinking.

 

 

Exactly!!!   Except now, iirc a church bought that land from the credit union last year (yet another missed opportunity by government).  So it's now either slated for some purpose or it will sure as hell cost twice as much.  I just cannot understand government "thinking" in most matters, but when it comes to spending money it's apparent to me that they know they don't have to think... after all, it's not their money. 

 

Regarding Demonbreun & 8th, that whole parcel could have been acquired (as it was just last year) and used for expansion of the Kefauver building.  For shame... for shame! 

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^The Federal Government doesn't like common-sense solutions like you fellas are proposing. This, of course, is why they must be allowed into every aspect of our lives.

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Well, one thing the Feds could do is this:  Buy the property the old credit union sits on and rebuild their parking garage there and then demolish the old garage and take the back part of the Frist center parking lot and attach a new building to the old. It would have the proper sit backs in the rear and no side streets to worry about. Then Metro or Frist could do a parking garage on the other side of 8th where the Cummins Station lot is for parking at the Frist. That would be a lot better than the lot they currently have. As a matter of fact that could increase the size of the new building and incorporate all the office of the old CH into the new and then demolish the old to obtain the set back they need. Then we would get a much larger court House in the process.

 

Just an alternative and a lot of wishful thinking.

This is such a good idea, surely at some point they thought of this and dismissed it, I mean really, how could they not have considered this at some point. 

This raises a question, what will they do with the old building when(if) they build a new one?  Are they planning on the new building completely replacing the old, if so I understand needing a totally new site, but if both will be used, why not just build the new behind the old.  

Oh and get rid of another section of Mcgavock while they are at it.

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How about they build it on one of those worthless state lots between James Robertson and 10th? Maybe they could go halfzies on the state with turning the other lot into a parking garage big enough to serve both. :excl:

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This is such a good idea, surely at some point they thought of this and dismissed it, I mean really, how could they not have considered this at some point. 

This raises a question, what will they do with the old building when(if) they build a new one?  Are they planning on the new building completely replacing the old, if so I understand needing a totally new site, but if both will be used, why not just build the new behind the old.  

Oh and get rid of another section of Mcgavock while they are at it.

They will keep the additional courthouse as they need that space as well. I think the Feds have got office space all over. IRS in Franklin, FBI in Donelson, offices in Grassmere,etc. They also have space in the Customs house.

I would not be surprised , If the federal government totally forgot to look at the current site they have now for expansion.

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