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MTSUBlueraider86

The Atlantic Cities Article On Nashville Sprawl

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This improvement is coming about right now because of market forces. As energy becomes more expensive people will be a lot less likely to drive from Spring Hill or Lebanon and Dickson to jobs in the city. As traffic becomes worse they will be less likely to do the same. As housing options increase in the city and surrounding neighborhoods people are more likely to move into the city. Safety is also a factor, and as these neighborhoods gentrify that is another problem that fixes itself.

Changing a lifetime of sprawl takes a lot of time, but we are definitely on the right path. I think for the most part Nashville's developers are doing a fairly decent job in the city. The one good thing about having a ton of empty parking lots and abandoned buildings in the city is that there is a whole world of potential for new development.

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What does downtown living offer, that the suburbs don't?  So a young couple move into a loft in downtown and partake in the night life and restaurants.  One may have a job that they can walk or take a short bus ride to, while the other hops in the gas guzzling SUV to get to his/her job in Cool Springs.  Then a child comes along and maybe another.  The big loft seems mighty small now.  They need more space and find they can not afford those nice new townhomes in town, but can get a nice house with a yard, in where else, Cool Springs.  So the commute is reversed for both, except now 2 cars are needed.  This is all hypothetical.  People live wherever they live for there own reasons. I still thinks it's jobs and the inability of both partners having a job in the same area.  Will this change?  I don't see it happening.  What types of jobs are in downtown?  Banks come to mind and the lawyers and others that cater to banks.  What else?  How about Healthcare companies?  I would say some are located in DT but most are not.  Archectural firms.  Government (jeez almost forgot them).  Corporate relocations.  Well, Nissan's American HQ went to Cool Springs and there gigantic factory is in Smyrna.  LP (Louisana Pacific) moved here and bought naming rights to the stadium.  Where is there corporate HQ.  I haven't a clue.  People visiting ask what does the LP stand for in the stadium.  Until the types of jobs encompass more variety, we will live where it makes sense.  This mass migration back to the city will be a long slow process.  I am not optimistic.  900,000 more people are all not going to move to downtown.

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Louisiana Pacific's offices are located downtown in the Bank of America building.

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What does downtown living offer, that the suburbs don't?  So a young couple move into a loft in downtown and partake in the night life and restaurants.  One may have a job that they can walk or take a short bus ride to, while the other hops in the gas guzzling SUV to get to his/her job in Cool Springs.  Then a child comes along and maybe another.  The big loft seems mighty small now.  They need more space and find they can not afford those nice new townhomes in town, but can get a nice house with a yard, in where else, Cool Springs.  So the commute is reversed for both, except now 2 cars are needed.  This is all hypothetical.  People live wherever they live for there own reasons. I still thinks it's jobs and the inability of both partners having a job in the same area.  Will this change?  I don't see it happening.  What types of jobs are in downtown?  Banks come to mind and the lawyers and others that cater to banks.  What else?  How about Healthcare companies?  I would say some are located in DT but most are not.  Archectural firms.  Government (jeez almost forgot them).  Corporate relocations.  Well, Nissan's American HQ went to Cool Springs and there gigantic factory is in Smyrna.  LP (Louisana Pacific) moved here and bought naming rights to the stadium.  Where is there corporate HQ.  I haven't a clue.  People visiting ask what does the LP stand for in the stadium.  Until the types of jobs encompass more variety, we will live where it makes sense.  This mass migration back to the city will be a long slow process.  I am not optimistic.  900,000 more people are all not going to move to downtown.

Well taken, but all in all the forces that drove suburbanization are either subsiding or have reached natural limits.  The outer suburbs of large cities--or even mid-sized ones like Nashville--are so far out that they are truly inconvenient in terms of access to either the downtown or the other suburbs.  The percentage of households with children continues to decline.  The amount of time children spend in unsupervised outdoor play continues to decline. 

 

The percentage of meals eaten in restaurants, and the percentage of people who consider trying new restaurants a primary form of entertainment continues to rise.   The percentage of one or two person households is high and rising.  The perception of the suburbs as safe and the city as dangerous continues to become more nuanced.  The number of old people looking for recreation and entertainment but who don't want to be driving all the time is going up.

 

The racial animosity that drove some flight to the suburbs has been slowly declining for decades.  Cities are recognizing the need to overcome the perception of their schools as inferior (or dangerous), we'll see how that works out but it's definitely something they're working on. 

 

While it's true DT Nashville may not attract every single person added to the area's population, that doesn't mean they want to live on a cul-de-sac an hour's drive from anywhere.  I'd expect denser and better designed suburban development in the future (with dense, walkable town centers selling at a premium), a massively larger DT population, and densifying infill in the areas within 5-6 miles of DT.  It seems like in the past Nashville didn't even try to compete with Williamson and the others.  I'd like to see us fight for every bit of the coming growth.

Edited by Neigeville

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The one place that tried to build a nice neighbohood that included stores, restaurants and more, is Lenox Village on Nolensville Rd.  It has some density to it with condo's, town homes, single family houses and apartments.  I don't live there but go with friends to some of the restaurants.  It seeems like it will succed and it looks like they are starting to build on the empty lot fronting Nolensville Rd.  I think at one point they expected a Publix to go there.  A full service grocer with a parking garage and apartments on top would be nice in that location.  This could be a model of what you are speaking about as far as future suburban development.

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^^^regarding Lenox Village. I also think this is a good way to develop in the 'burbs (granted, its been several years since ive been there). The only thing I think they missed is to encroach upon Nolensville Rd. a little more. Don't get me wrong, they have many of the businesses facing the street, so they worked towards it. However Nolensville is still a high speed highway. I would like to see them install several crosswalks and add some traffic calming devices to slow the roll through that stretch. I like it though.

Edit: a future transit hub would be a nice addition also.

Edited by nashvillwill
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^You are correct about the block where the stores and restaurants sit back from the road with a parking lot in front.  The block that has the Pie in the Sky pizza place is right up to Nolensville, unfortunately the entrances are in the back, where there is a parking lot.  Agree a transit hub would be good.  Nolensville certainly could use some traffic calming.  I see it as a beginning that developers could learn from.  What works and what doesn't.  The developers took some empty suburban area and turned it into something a little different than what you would normally see out in the burb's.

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Well taken, but all in all the forces that drove suburbanization are either subsiding or have reached natural limits.  The outer suburbs of large cities--or even mid-sized ones like Nashville--are so far out that they are truly inconvenient in terms of access to either the downtown or the other suburbs.  The percentage of households with children continues to decline.  The amount of time children spend in unsupervised outdoor play continues to decline. 
 

I think you make some very good points here, Neige. But there are a few things I disagree, or somewhat disagree with.

I do think that the forces that suburbanization have slowed, but I don't think they have stopped. There are still plenty of examples where suburbanization continues, especially right here in Nashville. One thing that I do think has changed, even in the suburbs, is the heightened awareness of land use. No, it's still not perfect by any means (in fact, a long way from it), but I think a lot of suburbs around here are realizing that smarter land use is the way to go for the future. While they are still certainly auto-centric, suburbs have to consider building more dense developments as the amount of open and usable land decreases (or the city becomes so large area-wise that it becomes more difficult to provide city services). Concerns about watersheds, pollution, and traffic are also driving development. I do believe that the old model of "you live here, you work there, and you shop over there" is starting to come to an end. It simply creates a traffic nightmare. Flooding concerns have also been heightened, notably after our historic flood...and as more development stretches farther and farther down the interstate -- and the interstates become harder to widen -- and with gas being as expensive as it is -- all of these things contribute to both the city and the suburbs wanting to work on a viable mass transit system.

I think your last two points are pretty valid, though they do not necessarily equate to people choosing cities over suburbs from this point forward. Some people would still like to have their space and do not have a positive view of urban development like we do on here.

The percentage of meals eaten in restaurants, and the percentage of people who consider trying new restaurants a primary form of entertainment continues to rise.   The percentage of one or two person households is high and rising.  The perception of the suburbs as safe and the city as dangerous continues to become more nuanced.  The number of old people looking for recreation and entertainment but who don't want to be driving all the time is going up.

Restaurants can be traveled to anywhere. I don't think that is necessarily a big advantage for the city...though in my opinion, the concentration of quality restaurants is certainly higher in the city. But the burbs do have some very good ones on their own. Especially in Williamson County.

I do think the perceptions of the crime dynamic in the city/suburbs is changing. But unfortunately in Nashville, the inner ring of suburbs -- the ones that tend to have more crime -- are actually part of the city of Nashville. In some cases (with people I have talked to) it's the perception that it's more of a "Davidson County" problem than it is that the suburbs are no longer the safe havens they once were. However, there is an increased awareness, even in the suburbs, that a lot of the inner city areas aren't so dangerous, as they once were. I know quite a number of suburbanites that absolutely love downtown, East Nashville, Germantown, Midtown, etc etc. But, at least as of now...they love to visit. I don't know if we have quite reached the tipping point of many of them wanting to live there.

 

The racial animosity that drove some flight to the suburbs has been slowly declining for decades.  Cities are recognizing the need to overcome the perception of their schools as inferior (or dangerous), we'll see how that works out but it's definitely something they're working on. 
 

I think that the racial animosity is down, for sure. But some of the fear-based stereotypes still continue to this day. In the last decade, Davidson County did manage to lose 3% of the white population. While not huge, I think it's still very evident that more whites are leaving the city than entering it. However, there have been some very interesting changes in the inner city makeup, and large demographic shifts where white populations are largely increasing. I'm not sure what to think of it, exactly. On one hand, it points to the popularity of urban living rising and the decrease of the fear-based ethnic stereotypes in some areas -- but on the other hand, I suppose that a lot of Nashville's "Nashville" suburbs are seeing some level of flight and that most of these areas do not offer anything that most other out of county suburbs offer (or offer less, in many cases).

While it's true DT Nashville may not attract every single person added to the area's population, that doesn't mean they want to live on a cul-de-sac an hour's drive from anywhere.  I'd expect denser and better designed suburban development in the future (with dense, walkable town centers selling at a premium), a massively larger DT population, and densifying infill in the areas within 5-6 miles of DT.  It seems like in the past Nashville didn't even try to compete with Williamson and the others.  I'd like to see us fight for every bit of the coming growth.

I agree with this. And honestly, I'm quite surprised that Murfreesboro hasn't embarked on a program to revitalize their town center (not commercial -- residential. The commercial seems to be doing OK). Murfreesboro has the benefit of having a much larger grid with sidewalks than any other suburb or exurb around Nashville. Not all of it can be "urban" development...but certainly walkable and fairly dense by southern suburban standards. I think Murfreesboro is really dropping the ball with that.

Nashville should see a very big increase in core population over the next couple of decades (assuming trends continue). Right now, we have a quite small downtown population, but some healthy 4,000-10,000 density in a lot of the adjacent hoods. The core, if properly developed, could easily hold 15,000 density, but that's quite a ways off. The downtown Census tract (which includes downtown, SoBro, the Gulch, and a good little chunk of Midtown) only had a population (2010) of 5,916 (density of 3,132.6, area of 1.89 square miles). To achieve 15,000 density in that specified area, there would need to be 28,350 residents...which might seem massive compared to what we have now...but when you look at the number of large, empty lots in those areas, I believe it is certainly achievable. That would be 22,434 new residents (not counting any gains since the 2010 Census) and probably somewhere in the range of units 12-14,000 new units (just a guess). That would take forty 300 unit buildings. It's a tall order, but achievable in time with good vision.

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"Restaurants can be traveled to anywhere. I don't think that is necessarily a big advantage for the city...though in my opinion, the concentration of quality restaurants is certainly higher in the city. But the burbs do have some very good ones on their own. Especially in Williamson County."


 

What I find to be interesting is that many of the independent restaurants in the city are opening outposts in Cool Springs and other locations.  I understand that the businesses see a growth opportunity, but I wonder how much of their crowd was driving in to the city to go to the original.  If those people can now just stay in WilCo and go to the one in Cool Springs, is that diluting their audience?  At some point, there is less and less reason to come in to the city for restaurants if a facsimile can also be found in the suburbs.

 


  
 

Edited by bwithers1

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What I find to be interesting is that many of the independent restaurants in the city are opening outposts in Cool Springs and other locations.  I understand that the businesses see a growth opportunity, but I wonder how much of their crowd was driving in to the city to go to the original.  If those people can now just stay in WilCo and go to the one in Cool Springs, is that diluting their audience?  At some point, there is less and less reason to come in to the city for restaurants if a facsimile can also be found in the suburbs.

I have thought the same thing...but one of the conclusions I made is that Williamson is never going to be able to replicate the cool or hip factor that you find in some of the cozy Nashville hoods. So there is a draw for that. Other things I thought about were the ease of getting to the restaurants -- some of them have some fairly serious parking issues, which could be frustrating for those driving 10-20+ miles to eat at such a place. The third factor would be the crowd. In some cases, the restaurants are quite crowded, and they really need to expand...whether that be in terms of physical size of their current location, or expanding to other locations.

On top of this -- the city itself isn't small. There are plenty of residents here to support independent restaurants. I don't think they are *heavily* dependent on the burbs to get their business, especially since a number of them are sort of neighborhood establishments. The worrisome thing would be if people living in the city (but not especially close to the restaurant) opted to start dining in the burb's facsimile restaurant due to ease of access/parking.

The thing I always worry about when an independent expands is whether the second location (or third) could sink them financially. The restaurant business is notoriously volatile, so the owners have to be very smart about any sort of expansion plans.

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