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WHAT ARE NASHVILLE'S STRENGTHS & SHORTCOMINGS?

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Hey guys,

I just wanted to throw and open ended question out there and get some thought and opinions about what you all think are the strengths and the shortcomings or areas needed for improvement in Nashville are?

Not really a right or wrong answer and as always, please keep it civil and simple.

Sometimes I need to hear fresh discussion as a moderator to see what is in the minds of you all and to see if I am on the same page. Many times there are areas I just forget about and need to be reminded about.

Thanks ahead of time for your thoughts! 

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To make matter worse there, you have two municipalities Metro and Berry Hill. At some point pressure will have to be put on city leaders in both places to address this issue. I think if there is a bus route on the street, or if it is a major street it needs sidewalks. They have to start somewhere and that seems to be the place to start.

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27 minutes ago, satalac said:

Strengths: Booming economy, great food scene, fun atmosphere

Shortcomings: Crime, the downtown loop cutting off neighborhoods, Titan's O-Line

Is Nashville really that bad in terms of crime, it's quite docile compared to other cities.

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1 hour ago, VSRJ said:

The lack of sidewalks in areas is definitely one of its shortcomings. I live on 8th and it's embarrassing that I can't walk to the grocery store or a restaurant down the street without having to walk on the edge of a street or through a parking lot. 

I know Memphis is pitted against Nashville quite frequently, but I can't think of an urban stretch like that in Memphis that is void of sidewalks. 

It's nice that sidewalks are included in the developments that are springing up on the corridor, but the system as a whole is still disjointed.

Berry Hill appears to be requiring sidewalks for new developments but still allowing them to be built with utility poles blocking them in some places.  What a waste!

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1 hour ago, OnePointEast said:

Is Nashville really that bad in terms of crime, it's quite docile compared to other cities.

Thats a valid point. I think certain parts of the city could be considered bad, but in terms of violent crime we are not as bad as many cities that are smaller than Nashville.

I do think there are a lot more property crimes now than there use to be. I also think that crime has spread into the suburbs as many that were causing the crime have been forced into more affordable areas farther out.

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Interconnected streets is a big one. Large swaths of Davidson County have roads with cul de sac designs that don't lead to anywhere which I believe causes a lot of bottleneck traffic in certain areas. 

Edited by jkc2j
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3 hours ago, VSRJ said:

The lack of sidewalks in areas is definitely one of its shortcomings. I live on 8th and it's embarrassing that I can't walk to the grocery store or a restaurant down the street without having to walk on the edge of a street or through a parking lot. 

I know Memphis is pitted against Nashville quite frequently, but I can't think of an urban stretch like that in Memphis that is void of sidewalks. 

It's nice that sidewalks are included in the developments that are springing up on the corridor, but the system as a whole is still disjointed.

I lived in Memphis for four years-1990-1994. In terms of sidewalks, Memphis wins hands down and it isn't even close. It does help Memphis that its topography is a lot flatter to say the least but I saw few if any streets that did not have sidewalks.

As far as cultural attractions go, Nashville definitely needs to kick it up a notch if it wants to be a global destination city. As I have been harping on for years now, Nashville needs a Museum/Theater district on Upper Broadway where the car dealerships are.

Why would a city calling itself "Music City" not have a state of the art, interactive, world class, must see facility called the Museum of Music?

Transform all of Broadway into a global destination and not the just lower part of it!

Edited by bnacincy
grammar
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Crimes are not reported evenly anywhere. So you can't always say this city vs. this city with crime rate statistics. Nashville's crime is not bad.

https://www.google.com/am p/s/fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-to-make-sense-of-conflicting-confusing-and-misleading-crime-statistics/amp/

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1 hour ago, East Side Urbanite said:

1. too many ugly and dysfunctional streetscapes (lack of sidewalks/curbs, mailboxes "sprouting" from sidewalks, lack of ped crosswalks, light poles that don't allow banners to stay affixed, towering pole signs such as the one for Chili’s on West End Avenue in an urban setting, etc.)

I'd like to expand on this point. 

One of my major issues with Metro is the lack of any consistency when it comes to street scape design within the city. The lack of consistency looks shoddy, imo, and it's not something you see in most other cities. The Gulch is pretty consistent with it's new fixtures throughout the neighborhood, but in some areas of downtown it can be kind of a hodgepodge of different fixtures that vary depending on when the fixture was installed or replaced. The city needs to pick a single fixture design(or a single design for each neighborhood of the city) and stick to it. Our interstates through town also look rough, aren't landscaped, and feature a mixture of different light fixtures that again vary depending on when it was installed. That doesn't even get into how rough a lot of the outer neighborhood streets look with no sidewalks, curb and gutter, and utility poles everywhere. Metro could really benefit from having a dedicated streets department that handles everything in one place vs having it spread out amongst the multiple departments/Public Works as it is now. 

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I’m working on my personal list of what’s “naughty & nice” about Nashville. In the meantime I will share some comments from friends who have come through town with Broadway tours. First, I will say that most of the casts, crews & musicians report having a great time here in Music City. Things they’ve mentioned that are points of concern for a city that prides itself on its hospitality industry:

-the traffic is nearly as bad as LA

-the situation with the homeless and panhandlers downtown is really out of control

-the high prices of hotels and AirBnB units is shocking

-some of the gay and lesbian folks were harassed or subjected to cat calls on the Broadway strip (and subsequently never went back when in town with another show)

-lack of retail downtown and early closing of what few are there

-difficulty and cost of parking downtown (especially near TPAC)

I think all of those are items that need to be discussed and addressed, to the extent that is possible.

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17 hours ago, markhollin said:

- Short term rentals.  Need to get a handle on this as it is creating some substantial issues with overtaking certain neighborhoods and developments.  Need comprehensive rules that are thoroughly vetted and enforced.

Actually, we need just the opposite.  We need all rules related to short-term rentals removed to help break up the monopoly on lodging currently held by the hotel industry.  They are behind the efforts to ban AirBNB, which is a legitimate use of private individual's property.  The hotel industry lobbied in favor of the convention center financed by tax payers, yet when those same tax payers want to rent out their house, they are against that.

Also, during the Stanley cup playoffs and other recent events, there were multiple reports of hotels cancelling people's reservations so they could charge a higher room rate for the special events.  To me that is just emblematic of how the Hotel industry is laser-focused on extracting the maximum profit from Nashville without any respect for its citizens or the long-term reputation of the city. 

They want all public investments focused on tourism and nothing left for regular Nashvillians who can never afford to party on Broadway or go to a sporting event.  And yet, for the majority of their workers, they pay close to minimum wage.  Tourism is not a high-tech industry, but somehow they have convinced a large portion of the voting public that the future of Nashville's economy is very dependent on tourism.  That is short-sighted in my opinion.  If Nashville is a tourist destination, then great - let that happen organically.  We don't need the city to engineer a tourism-focused economy.

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3 hours ago, Armacing said:

Actually, we need just the opposite.  We need all rules related to short-term rentals removed to help break up the monopoly on lodging currently held by the hotel industry.  They are behind the efforts to ban AirBNB, which is a legitimate use of private individual's property.  The hotel industry lobbied in favor of the convention center financed by tax payers, yet when those same tax payers want to rent out their house, they are against that.

Also, during the Stanley cup playoffs and other recent events, there were multiple reports of hotels cancelling people's reservations so they could charge a higher room rate for the special events.  To me that is just emblematic of how the Hotel industry is laser-focused on extracting the maximum profit from Nashville without any respect for its citizens or the long-term reputation of the city. 

They want all public investments focused on tourism and nothing left for regular Nashvillians who can never afford to party on Broadway or go to a sporting event.  And yet, for the majority of their workers, they pay close to minimum wage.  Tourism is not a high-tech industry, but somehow they have convinced a large portion of the voting public that the future of Nashville's economy is very dependent on tourism.  That is short-sighted in my opinion.  If Nashville is a tourist destination, then great - let that happen organically.  We don't need the city to engineer a tourism-focused economy.

There actually is a significant problem with AirBnBs in the city which is the abundance of absentee investor properties. Owners are supposed to LIVE in the property at least part time (in my opinion, it should be all the time), but a great number of AirBnBs in the city are never occupied by owners or lessees. These investor properties make bad neighbors because they cram as many beds as they can and their guests realize that they're not staying in someone's home, so they treat the property (and the neighborhood or condo/apartment complex) like a dormitory.

Furthermore, in a city with a growing shortage of affordable housing, absentee investor AirBnbs are eating into the short supply of available housing. 

Metro is also missing out on tax revenues and other sources of revenue as a result of the lack of regulations and reporting of these units. 

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This shall not turn into a debate debacle of the STR issue, PLEASE.

This is meant to highlight our strenghts and shortcomings and I do appreciate where you stand, but we are not here to debate and get sidetracked on one issue alone. However, I would encourage constructive ways to solve the problems of Metro without getting into a debate because it throws the thread into the ER.

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Interesting interview in today's NBJ with Butch Spyridon (CEO of Nashville's Convention & Visitors Corp.) where he touches on strengths and shortcomings.  Here are some highlights:

"Keeping up with the number of hotels being built and sustaining our momentum (is a big issue). We have 6,000 rooms currently under construction. That’s a lot, and if I do the math, that’s an almost 20% increase in inventory. That’s a big number, so we have to figure out how to absorb that and not damage existing business. That’s a pretty daunting number. I think we will continue to drive demand and demand will continue to grow, but it can’t keep up. It’s not going to grow 20%, so the hotels will feel it a little bit."

"Same thing the bars and restaurants are feeling with the number of new bars and restaurants coming in. I can tell some of them are already feeling it. It doesn’t mean less people are coming — it just means we’re spread out more. We could be growing at 3 to 5%, which would be pretty healthy growth, and they could be decreasing their business. Then they’ll get mad and yell at us like, "What are you doing?" With that thought in mind, we want to look at our goals; are we increasing them and are we meeting [our sales goals]?" 

"Other issues we hear from downtown business owners are
: traffic, sidewalks, homeless and trash — and homeless-slash-public safety. It’s not all a homeless issue, but the aggressive panhandling and general safety of the people down there [are concerns]. … But we’ve heard for the last couple years about trash, sidewalks, traffic and safety. We completely agree. Those are all issues that have to be addressed before something bad happens and we get hurt for a longer period of time."

"I would absolutely join in the chorus of the city’s success and its means to manage the success don’t match up. Having the Metro budget to deal with the growth — you can look at Public Works, police, schools and everywhere you turn, it’s a matter of resources. Airbnb with Codes. Public Works has the same number of employees they had during the recession. We’re a different city than we were in ‘08, ‘09 and ‘10. For Airbnb, we had one person and now I think we have two to try to manage 5,000 rental units and make sure they’re licensed. Traffic and parking, they had two people 10 to 20 years ago, and now I think they have two people again." 

"All of that comes down to resources for the city. It’s no secret the city doesn’t have the revenue. I don’t know what the answer to that is. We’re doing too good as a city to not be able to find the solutions and be able to manage our success. We’re the envy of the majority of the country, not just my industry, but as a city. People are jealous. People are always asking, "How’d y’all do that?" It takes money to manage success. So if it’s property tax, reappraisal, higher fees on some of the beer permits or transportation vehicles. Everybody is making money except the city."

Additionally, he spoke about the next huge event that they are preparing for is the possibility of earning one of the World Cup host city slots for 2026.  In the next year or so, FIFA will be making their determinations of 17 cities in the U.S., and will end up picking 11 or 12.

More behind the NBJ paywall here:

https://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/news/2019/08/28/nashvilles-tourism-chief-on-his-next-no-way-thatll.html?iana=hpmvp_nsh_news_headline

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8 hours ago, Armacing said:

Actually, we need just the opposite.  We need all rules related to short-term rentals removed to help break up the monopoly on lodging currently held by the hotel industry.  They are behind the efforts to ban AirBNB, which is a legitimate use of private individual's property.  The hotel industry lobbied in favor of the convention center financed by tax payers, yet when those same tax payers want to rent out their house, they are against that.

Also, during the Stanley cup playoffs and other recent events, there were multiple reports of hotels cancelling people's reservations so they could charge a higher room rate for the special events.  To me that is just emblematic of how the Hotel industry is laser-focused on extracting the maximum profit from Nashville without any respect for its citizens or the long-term reputation of the city. 

They want all public investments focused on tourism and nothing left for regular Nashvillians who can never afford to party on Broadway or go to a sporting event.  And yet, for the majority of their workers, they pay close to minimum wage.  Tourism is not a high-tech industry, but somehow they have convinced a large portion of the voting public that the future of Nashville's economy is very dependent on tourism.  That is short-sighted in my opinion.  If Nashville is a tourist destination, then great - let that happen organically.  We don't need the city to engineer a tourism-focused economy.

I hate rules and regulations, too

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