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doormanpoet

Spare me the rhetoric from the Nashville Historic Commission

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At the ripe old age of 43 I can attest to the destruction of several historic structures of which the Nashville Historic Commission protested and did nothing about. Although I am a traditionalist in architecture and urban design, I refuse to be bullied by self serving preservationists who see change as evil and thus "destroying the fabric of Nashville."

The woman in the Tennessean who claimed "...they are trying to make Nashville a mini Manhattan..." speaks with no authority on the subject. Mini Manhattan...Please! It is voices like this that destroy Nashville and it's culture to perpetuate the stereotypical images of Nashville and I for one am sick of it.

Please! Where was the historical commission when it came to the destruction of the Sudakem Building? The American National Bank? Several downtown hotels from the art deco era? Again Please! Most historical commissions are like PETA and other groups that voice opinion, yet don't do much else.

I for one find lower broadway and its ilk embarassing and a setback for Nashville. Yes, keep the institutions like Tootsies and Earnest Tubb or the Lawrence Record store, but the rest can be recycled like the rest of the built and natural world. Send the old bricks of those old dilapidated buildings up to clay and adobe heaven, or to clay and adobe hell.

Although country music is a PRODUCT we export, our city should not look like a den of mediocrity and iniquity for the great unwashed fans of country music. Now I really do not care for the lowest common denominator in any part of our society, and I do not want Nashville catering to it.

Nothing against country music fans, but if this city allows a $200 million dollar project from getting away because some historic preservationist is concerned about an old building (that can easily be replicated) then we are backsliding into a Deliverance Movie Theme that Nashville does not need to visit again. Please forgive us Burt Reynolds.

We can sell country music just like we can sell bread or tire irons, and not cater our city to one group. I would rather see lower broadway a collection of posh boutiques, coffee shops, fine restaurants, jazz clubs, art houses and the like catering to an international clientle rather than low talent honky tonks that do not contribute to the city fabric and culture.

COUNTRY MUSIC IS NOT NASHVILLE CULTURE, IT IS AN EXPORTED COMMODITY OR PRODUCT!

Our culture is art, education, wildlife preserves, music of all types, famous writers like Robert Penn Warren, Anne Patchett and Alice Randall, fine dining and the symphony.

Lower Broadway needs this project. It needs change. If a guest at my hotel needs a cowboy hat, I'll send them to Walmart. Now lets get on with it.

John

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Your right. There is nothing economically significant in those buildings that is wort saving. The area is overdue for a face lift.

The city is becoming more pro business and must contribute more to the needs of the workers and the citizens of the city, more retail is needed badly!!!! -_-

I want to be able to go downtown one day and buy something besides a key-chain and a T-shirt.

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Evidently, Westin asked, "Where's the most high-traffic site we could locate?" They aren't evaluating this solely based on what Nashville is right now, and we shouldn't either. They're proposing this based on what Nashville will be three, five and ten years from now. They asked the right question and they nailed it. This location makes perfect sense based on the other developments coming to the area.

I don't mind the fact our great city attracts lots of country music fans, but it would be *CRAZY* to decline a project like this because it doesn't fit with only one aspect of how our downtown area has been used.

I'm with you guys...Bring it on.

:ph34r:

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With all respect, this is a pretty simplistic attack on the Metro Historical Commission. What, exactly, was the Commission supposed to do about these previous demolitions? The Commission only has the power tha tthe laws give it. And to its credit, the Commission and its allies have objected to ridiculous, stupid developments like the Planet Hollywood debacle. I remember how sad it was to see people falling all over themselves to support what was just another chain restaurant (and not a very good one at that).

Our city and its historical fabric is more important than the profits of the Chain-of-the-Moment. There is a way to accomodate lucrative and extensive development without permitting every single developer to have free reign in the heart of the city. Development vs. Preservation is a false choice.

Also the culture and heritage of Nashville include not only writers who have lived here for 10 or 20 years, but also the built environment that has developed over 200 years.

Nashville doesn't "need" a Westin on lower Broadway to validate itself as a city anymore than we "needed" Planet Hollywood to put us on the map. Westin may need to build a hotel in this city to make money. Good for them, and we should help them to do it. But we have every right to insist that any major project in the central core fits with OUR plans and desires for the city and not just some real estate developer's.

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"The Commission only has the power that the laws give it. "

"Development vs. Preservation is a false choice."

" we have every right to insist that any major project in the central core fits with OUR plans and desires for the city and not just some real estate developer's."

Well said!

If there is a consumer need for a 20 storey hotel in that general area, it will be built, even if it has to back off the Broadway streetscape, somewhat. If not by Westin, then by someone else competent enough to turn the challenges of conforming to the community's vision for that area into opportunities to develop a unique niche in the Nashville hotel market. That's the beauty of the marketplace.

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At the ripe old age of 43 I can attest to the destruction of several historic structures of which the Nashville Historic Commission protested and did nothing about. Although I am a traditionalist in architecture and urban design, I refuse to be bullied by self serving preservationists who see change as evil and thus "destroying the fabric of Nashville."

The woman in the Tennessean who claimed "...they are trying to make Nashville a mini Manhattan..." speaks with no authority on the subject. Mini Manhattan...Please! It is voices like this that destroy Nashville and it's culture to perpetuate the stereotypical images of Nashville and I for one am sick of it.

Please! Where was the historical commission when it came to the destruction of the Sudakem Building? The American National Bank? Several downtown hotels from the art deco era? Again Please! Most historical commissions are like PETA and other groups that voice opinion, yet don't do much else.

I for one find lower broadway and its ilk embarassing and a setback for Nashville. Yes, keep the institutions like Tootsies and Earnest Tubb or the Lawrence Record store, but the rest can be recycled like the rest of the built and natural world. Send the old bricks of those old dilapidated buildings up to clay and adobe heaven, or to clay and adobe hell.

Although country music is a PRODUCT we export, our city should not look like a den of mediocrity and iniquity for the great unwashed fans of country music. Now I really do not care for the lowest common denominator in any part of our society, and I do not want Nashville catering to it.

Nothing against country music fans, but if this city allows a $200 million dollar project from getting away because some historic preservationist is concerned about an old building (that can easily be replicated) then we are backsliding into a Deliverance Movie Theme that Nashville does not need to visit again. Please forgive us Burt Reynolds.

We can sell country music just like we can sell bread or tire irons, and not cater our city to one group. I would rather see lower broadway a collection of posh boutiques, coffee shops, fine restaurants, jazz clubs, art houses and the like catering to an international clientle rather than low talent honky tonks that do not contribute to the city fabric and culture.

COUNTRY MUSIC IS NOT NASHVILLE CULTURE, IT IS AN EXPORTED COMMODITY OR PRODUCT!

Our culture is art, education, wildlife preserves, music of all types, famous writers like Robert Penn Warren, Anne Patchett and Alice Randall, fine dining and the symphony.

Lower Broadway needs this project. It needs change. If a guest at my hotel needs a cowboy hat, I'll send them to Walmart. Now lets get on with it.

John

Thank god someone else has a lick of sense around these parts. It seems that most folks on Urbanplanet poke fun at the NIMBYs, but when a new structure is proposed for one of the junkiest parts of town, they scream, scratch, and bite.

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Thank god someone else has a lick of sense around these parts. It seems that most folks on Urbanplanet poke fun at the NIMBYs, but when a new structure is proposed for one of the junkiest parts of town, they scream, scratch, and bite.

I don't think people would mind the area down there to be remodled, or rehabilitated, but no one wants to see the historic buildings go. Every major town has its grit and character...without it we would be a cultureless generic big city in the upper south. I support the building getting built, as long as no historic structures are destroyed (I don't mind if the hotel occupies the buildings as long as they keep the facades).

There is also a difference between building a shiny new skyscraper or civic building and destroying a block of historic buildings to put something new in (as long as the historic buildings are interesting, have character, and are not so far gone that they are condemned).

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But we have every right to insist that any major project in the central core fits with OUR plans and desires for the city and not just some real estate developer's.

No we don't. Do we own the land? Because your desires are not neccassarily my desires nor are they neccassarily the desires of the community at large. Who determines what "our" plans and desires are? The real estate developer is the only one who has any right in this whole matter. Do we have the right to restrict his ability to make money? Do we have the right to tell him he must conform to our wishes or else sell the land? Perhaps if we restrict developers enough they will stop pestering us with their pesky projects and plans and we can keep the city we have now.

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Does anyone have pictures of the historical buildings at the site where this Westin is rumored to be going?

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Does anyone have pictures of the historical buildings at the site where this Westin is rumored to be going?

The TNan article had a picture. Notice the complete absence of windows on the 3rd Ave. side.

Tennessean Article

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No ? Do we have the right to tell him he must conform to our wishes or else sell the land?

Of course we do! By "we" I mean the citizens of Nashville through their duly elected representatives. The last time I checked, we have a multi volume zoning code, various other ordinances and all sorts of restrictions on private property. For example, if I wanted to open a bordello or a casino or for that matter a supermarket on the site of my home, I could not. I also could not operate a home office there. If I want to do these things, I need to sell my property and buy another in some other part of town. Likewise, if you want to open a tavern, you can't do that next door to a school or a church. One may like or dislike certain restrictions on land use, but they exist in every city but Houston (and even Houston has some use restrictions!).

Sure, MY tastes may not always be OUR taste as a community. That's what the democratic process is for and why we have all these Commissions and Departments and Councils.

If you think that we should have more lenient laws so that developers who can't do horrible things in other cities will come here and build their cheap structures and make money at the expense of our city's coherent built environment, then by all means lobby for lenient use restrictions. But please don't pretend that every landowner should be able to do whatever he wants to do with a piece of property. That's not true of any parcel of property in this city, nor should it be.

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The TNan article had a picture. Notice the complete absence of windows on the 3rd Ave. side.

Tennessean Article

Not an attractive building. Mere age is not enough to keep that one, IMO. If Andrew Jackson were born there or Elvis bought his first bell-bottoms there or something, then we could talk about it. But if there were some reason to keep that building that were famous enough, we'd all already know about it.

To the comments above about asking the developer to conform their plans to "our" view of the area, there will naturally be some disconnect between what an appointed group of gatekeepers (Historical Commission/ BZA etc.) would want, versus what the developer would want, what the immediate neighboring property owners would want, what other property owners in the neighborhood would want, and what the city at large would want.

So here are some questions I've got...

What are the mechanisms that make sure the gatekeepers are making decisions that actually represent the opinions of the property-tax-paying stakeholders? In other words, how are those decisions weighted to appropriately reflect the concerns of those who have the greater stake in the project (proximity)? I.e., property owners in Green Hills should be given far less influence than the ones a block away from the actual project.

Another question is, how many blocks away from the actual project do you get before a property tax paying citizen is given less deference than the Civic Design Center?

All these questions go to whether there is a truly representative process (or not) invoked before someone's private property rights are restricted...I start to get very libertarian about governmental involvement in private property decisions if the gatekeepers are bound to do little more than apply their own subjective judgments as the office holders.

Anybody with experience in the process able to explain the quality of representation in decisions like this?

Thx

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To the comments above about asking the developer to conform their plans to "our" view of the area, there will naturally be some disconnect between what an appointed group of gatekeepers (Historical Commission/ BZA etc.) would want, versus what the developer would want, what the immediate neighboring property owners would want, what other property owners in the neighborhood would want, and what the city at large would want.

So here are some questions I've got...

What are the mechanisms that make sure the gatekeepers are making decisions that actually represent the opinions of the property-tax-paying stakeholders? In other words, how are those decisions weighted to appropriately reflect the concerns of those who have the greater stake in the project (proximity)? I.e., property owners in Green Hills should be given far less influence than the ones a block away from the actual project.

Another question is, how many blocks away from the actual project do you get before a property tax paying citizen is given less deference than the Civic Design Center?

All these questions go to whether there is a truly representative process (or not) invoked before someone's private property rights are restricted...I start to get very libertarian about governmental involvement in private property decisions if the gatekeepers are bound to do little more than apply their own subjective judgments as the office holders.

Anybody with experience in the process able to explain the quality of representation in decisions like this?

Thx

These are really interesting questions. In theory, the zoning and use laws and other restrictions are supposed to balance the interests of all constituencies---that is, the immediate neighbors and the more amorphous "general good" of the city as a whole. For example, you could argue that if I want to open a home office on my property and my immediate neighbors don't object, why should someone who lives across town have any say in the matter at all? However, the Board of Zoning Appeals has to look at the whole picture and ensure that the rules that exist are applied fairly and equitably in all parts of town. This balancing act becomes even more important in the central core of the city. In some sense, downtown is everyone's neighborhood, whether you live in Green Hills or Donelson or wherever. As the center of the community a special set of rules apply to it. That has always been recognized by zoning and land use laws here and everywhere else. It is primarily a commercial and office area, of course, but also it has a symbolic importance to the city as a whole.

But you raise a good point that the process should be carefully designed to balance these interests. To some extent there is always going to be something a little bit socialistic sounding about land use restrictions (who are "we" to dictate our tastes to an owner?). But if you start to imagine what the world would be like without any use restrictions (e.g., your neighbor building a 50 foot concrete wall that blocks the sunlight into your kitchen window or a developer opening an adult bookstore next door to your mother's house), I think you will realize that reasonablerestrictions are a small price to pay for living in a community with other people.

To try and answer your question more practically, I think that the Board of Zoning Appeals and the Planning Commission are two of the major players in land use and they are appointed by the elected Mayor and confirmed by the elected Council. The Planning Department consists of well-meaning civil servants who, at least theoretically, are suppposed to be smart and well-trained and have the best interests of the city at heart. Their recommendations are reviewed by the Planning Commission. Someone correct me if I've misstated or left someone off.

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BNA--Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Here's how I'd explain my thinking...

Anyone purchasing a piece of property anywhere should familiarize themselves with the restrictions on the use of that property. Even if they don't, the law holds them as being on notice about such restrictions.

I'm thinking about the grey area in the application of governmental judgment about matters that are allowed, according to covenants or restrictions, but which are nonetheless subject to regulatory approval. This is where, in my judgment, the land owner needs a very strong presumption of approval. I hold that the approval process should be almost entirely (if not exclusively) focused on making sure the thing to be built or done does not in fact run contrary to existing restrictions. If it is not encroaching those restrictions, I'd think there should be a rebuttable presumption the proposal ought to be approved.

Just as the owner wanting to do something is on notice about what they may or may not do, their neighbor is also aware of what might or might not happen at a neighboring property. I'm fairly libertarian about it and, under the example you raised of a sunlight-blocking wall, those parties are free to bargain. If the potentially offended neighbor wouldn't want his sunlight blocked, he can bargain for the air rights to the neighbor's land and pay for the benefit of continued sunlight. Otherwise, the governmental requirement that the other neighbor NOT build that wall is a financial benefit to the neighbor who didn't pay for it, and the neighbor not getting to build the wall winds up not getting a use of his property that wasn't (in my example) restricted when he bought it.

The next area I'm curious about is similar (I believe) to the recent changes to height restrictions south of Broadway. Certain developers or property owners purchased land under one set of known restrictions. After they made their investments--which for each of them carried certain possibilities for risk & reward--changes were made to the value proposition they invested under. Was that set of changes in how they could use their property subject to a predictable, stable, sufficiently representative process, or did the non-governmental Civic Design Center get rules passed that suited their discreet vision for the area? What were the procedural safeguards for those property owners prior to their purchases that essentially told them, "Invest in downtown Nashville--it's a is a safe investment because you can take confidence in the certainty of how you can use your property"?? I've been taught the Constitutional underpinnings of how this should work, but I'm curious in Nashville's case where our city's procedures fall on the spectrum of what's Constitutionally permissible--do Nashville's procedures strongly favor the prerogative of property owners, or does it more strongly favor procedures in keeping with more "collectivist" aspirations?

If the libertarian approach is neutral as to either facilitating or stifling economic progress, I'd argue that when done very well the highly planned approach may be a better than neutral as to facilitating growth, it is by far more prone to stifle economic progress b/c (A) government cannot adapt as quickly as markets, and (B) established regulatory authority tends to be territorial and severely resists yielding to exceptions b/c they are precedents to diminished authority.

I totally understand your point about reasonableness, and it's reasonable that reasonable people should agree that it's reasonable to remain reasonable. The trick is in the fact that the very word "reasonable" can be quite subjective. To me, therefore, it is most beneficial for there to be minimal room for subjective judgments to enter in--let the rules be known in advance; let regulatory approval consist in determining whether standing restrictions would be violated; let changes to existing rules be made in either a direclty democratic or directly representative fashion; let potentially affected parties bargain for and contract for the value they want to enjoy when it is not otherwise restricted...

:ph34r: I'm thinking so hard I can't blink.

So of all my questions, my main question to you BNA or anyone with knowledge of comparative regulatory procedures is, where does Nashvegas fall on the political spectrum?

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In case you couldn't tell, tistic went to law school. :shok:

Unfortunately after a long day practicing law myself, I'm too worn out to give Tistic a sufficiently thoughtful response to his well-reasoned post!

I'm sorry, but I will do so when I return to town on Monday.

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In case you couldn't tell, tistic went to law school. :shok:

In my defense, though, I'm not a lawyer... (no offense to my lawyer friends out there).

"The first thing we should do is kill all the lawyers." Shakespeare, Henry VI

Q. Why didn't Cupid fill the lawyer's heart with love by shooting an arrow through it?

A. Stop kidding around...Even Cupid can't hit a target that small. :ph34r:

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In my defense, though, I'm not a lawyer... (no offense to my lawyer friends out there).

"The first thing we should do is kill all the lawyers." Shakespeare, Henry VI

Q. Why didn't Cupid fill the lawyer's heart with love by shooting an arrow through it?

A. Stop kidding around...Even Cupid can't hit a target that small. :ph34r:

:rofl::rofl: Great stuff!!!

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With all the drama we've seen recently, if anyone needs to learn HOW to debate, take a lesson from bna and tistic. As these guys will tell you it's not important to yell and insult to get your point across. Good arguments guys.

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With all the drama we've seen recently, if anyone needs to learn HOW to debate, take a lesson from bna and tistic. As these guys will tell you it's not important to yell and insult to get your point across. Good arguments guys.

Oh shut up! What do you know? :D Sorry nashvillwill, I absolutely could not help myself.

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This is in reply to BnaFlyer. I tried to quote him but fo some reason the software did not let me and I think I was using it right, I might be stupid, who knows.

Bna, I completely agree about us electing people to carry out rules and regs and codes. I agree a strip club next to a school would be wrong and there are countless examples just like this. However I do not believe they apply here. We are not talking about a skyscraper in the suburbs. We are talking about building a 200+ foot building in the central business district. If you can't build it there where can you put it.

But this comes back to a fundamental difference in views. I believe that government would be severly overstepping its purpose if they prevented this development from happening. Government is not here to plan private development because they would do a horrendous job of it. But I respect your opinion Bna and have enjoyed the back and forth that you and tistic are having. Now I just need to learn how to use this software.

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Food for thought and a question...

I realize that no proposals for a hotel in the gulch or the portion of the gulch b/n Broad and Church have been aired yet. But I'm compelled to ask a purely hypothetical question:

Would you rather see a bunch (2-3) of 15-20 story hotels in SoBro or 1-2 forty-to-fifty story hotels in the gulch? Obviously, the latter is unlikely without the new CC located there. But the Westin proposal for LoBro makes me wonder about this "tradeoff".

Do I remember seeing a poll once on where people would prefer to see the new CC? Didn't the gulch win out? I'll go back when I can get the time.

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