IHateCoolSprings

Undo Cool Springs

25 posts in this topic

Question, how could we undo Cool Springs and get those corporate headquarters to relocate near (or in) the Nashville core instead of in Cool Springs? After all, a lot of them used to be in Nashville to start with unitl they migrated out to Cool Springs. I would love to just put Cool Springs out of business.

(And yes, I am posting this in part to meet the silly requirement that this site has that a new user has to have posted 10 times in order to be a full member, but still, a good question.)

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As more people begin to move back into the city and a lot of these companies realize that it is highly uneconomical to be in the suburbs, they'll return. I love how everywhere people are beginning to move back into the city's core. Here in Memphis its happening too. It makes for an all around better life in the city.

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I'm a fan of urban development and infill, but I'm also a fan of economic growth and activity. Clearly, for some companies locating in Cool Springs was felt to be in their best interest. In a perfect world it might be easy to think that development in Nashville either occurs in the urban core or in the 'burbs, but in reality the decison these companies may be making is between the suburbs of Nashville or the suburbs of another major city. If Cool Springs doesn't exist maybe Nissan stays in California or decides to locate in Dallas or Tampa or any of another 30 or 40 cities.

Williamson County and Nashville/Davidson County really are symbiotic in many ways, and the "us vs them" war harms both more than it helps either. Williamson County and Davidson County both provide a population base and lifestyle that supports the services and amenities each city/county has.

In the long run, I agree with you that development will begin shifting back into the urban core of Nashville, but I think Cool Springs will continue to thrive as it has already developed a critical mass of corporations, income, wealth, and housing stock that could probably survive on its own. The areas that will likely decline are places like Hendersonville, Mt Juliet, and Lebanon as gas prices increase. There isn't a significant employment base in these areas to support their populations, so commuting into the urban core (or to Cool Springs) must continue even as gas prices increase. It's in these areas that I foresee development slowing and returning to Nashville.

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I'm a fan of urban development and infill, but I'm also a fan of economic growth and activity. Clearly, for some companies locating in Cool Springs was felt to be in their best interest. In a perfect world it might be easy to think that development in Nashville either occurs in the urban core or in the 'burbs, but in reality the decison these companies may be making is between the suburbs of Nashville or the suburbs of another major city. If Cool Springs doesn't exist maybe Nissan stays in California or decides to locate in Dallas or Tampa or any of another 30 or 40 cities.

Williamson County and Nashville/Davidson County really are symbiotic in many ways, and the "us vs them" war harms both more than it helps either. Williamson County and Davidson County both provide a population base and lifestyle that supports the services and amenities each city/county has.

In the long run, I agree with you that development will begin shifting back into the urban core of Nashville, but I think Cool Springs will continue to thrive as it has already developed a critical mass of corporations, income, wealth, and housing stock that could probably survive on its own. The areas that will likely decline are places like Hendersonville, Mt Juliet, and Lebanon as gas prices increase. There isn't a significant employment base in these areas to support their populations, so commuting into the urban core (or to Cool Springs) must continue even as gas prices increase. It's in these areas that I foresee development slowing and returning to Nashville.

I think this is a great post. I know this is urban planet, and is focused on urban development, and not suburban development...so I'm not surprised to come across some of the "suburban hater" attitudes. I don't blame people who rag on suburbs for their poor land use and contribution to traffic snarls (via the inability to create adequate public transportation). I think a lot of people on here are urban utopian idealists...and that's OK...because I think that's not a bad thing to strive for. But again, that is idealism. Whether you like it or not, "undoing" Cool Springs would be cutting off our nose to spite our face. While most of us hate to hear of corporate headquarters moving from Nashville/Davidson County to Cool Springs, at the very least, the money is staying close by. While it may have a negative effect on Davidson County, it's not nearly as bad as it would be if the HQs moved out of the metro altogether.

As a culture, many Americans moved away from the inner cities during the auto age...because they could spread out, and they could get themselves away from some of the nasty slums that were created along with the growth of cities. For a long time, businesses remained in town...but eventually, that changed as well. Some corporations moved to the suburbs because it suited their employees. They no longer had to worry about parking or waiting in long lines at the elevator. Suburban office parks allowed them to have much larger floor footprints, making it easier to manage. Most shopping moved to the suburbs as well, for many of the same reasons: more space.

Of course, now we are seeing some of the drawbacks to those decisions. Poor planning and terrible traffic being two of the biggest concerns. But traffic would be bad if those things were in the city as well (though I think public transit would be a bit better off).

But back to Cool Springs specifically. I think Hey Hey hit the nail on the head calling it a symbiotic relationship. Cool Springs would not exist without Nashville, obviously. It would likely still be farmland without Nashville's growth over the past 20-25 years. In turn, if Nashville didn't have attractive options for corporate business, many operations here would have likely left, and many others would have never come. In effect, Cool Springs may have actually helped Nashville weather some of the corporate relocation storm of the past 30 years, keeping a lot of corporate talent and money close by. How does that effect Nashville? Well, I would venture that we probably wouldn't have two pro sports franchises with tens of thousands of fans dumping money into the downtown area many times per year (not specifically Cool Springs, but suburbia in general). While there was a big lull in the 80s and into the 90s, downtown has really come around...and (hopefully) having weathered this storm, it is in prime position for development (we're already seeing it). It might not be happening as fast as we would like, but we are on much better footing than a lot of our peer cities in that regard.

What's done is done. We can't take it back. Without Cool Springs, and similar developments, Nashville wouldn't be what it is today, for better or worse.

And we shouldn't point the finger at them for creating this mess. We played a part in it. Look around Nashville. Outside of the core and inner city neighborhoods, it's suburbia. Sprawling developments, office parks, malls, and the lot. Antioch/Hickory Hollow, Bellevue, Hermitage, Rivergate...horrid planning and land use. And that's US. It would be one thing if all that was created back when that was unincorporated county land, before the Metro government...but it's not. We can't honestly sit here with a holier than thou urbanist attitude towards our bretheren from other counties when we have that kind of reputation in our own backyard.

Moving forward, it is vital for all of the local governments to work together to create a stronger region. We can't just separate ourselves off from the group anymore. We are way too interdependent for that to be a sane decision. I am encouraged by some of the progress and planning from the RTA...but I think the slow economy has definitely hampered implementation. In the end, residents and businesses should be free to choose where they locate. Hopefully creating a stronger bond between all of our cities will make all of them attractive options for the right people.

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Interesting replies - I'd like to know if Portland, OR, which I guess is somewhat known for good city planning, has a Cool Springs.

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Nice topic! One example for Portland might be Beaverton(only abt 9 miles from downtown) home of Nike HQ's...but don't think they have a Galleria like Cool Springs(more of an edge city) which is 14 miles from Nashville.

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Interesting replies - I'd like to know if Portland, OR, which I guess is somewhat known for good city planning, has a Cool Springs.

Kind of hard to compare the two, really. Very different cities.

But to put it briefly, yeah, they have office park/chain store hell, too. Cool Springs isn't a unique phenomenon.

Portland is a nice place...but I found it a little overrated.

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Look around Nashville. Outside of the core and inner city neighborhoods, it's suburbia. Sprawling developments, office parks, malls, and the lot. Antioch/Hickory Hollow, Bellevue, Hermitage, Rivergate...horrid planning and land use. And that's US. It would be one thing if all that was created back when that was unincorporated county land, before the Metro government...but it's not. We can't honestly sit here with a holier than thou urbanist attitude towards our bretheren from other counties when we have that kind of reputation in our own backyard.

Back in the '60s men were the breadwinners and had a lot more say in purchasing a house. They liked to measure the homestead in acres and have an attached garage where the T-bird could get its engine blueprinted mere feet from the kitchen. Driving to work from Madison or West Meade was just a damned good reason to own the T-bird. That's how we got the post-WWII suburbs. Retail followed the women to the suburbs, naturally. But as women joined the workforce they have had ever more say, and today probably have more input in buying a home than the husband. Now house shopping it's all about schools and shopping, restaurants and parks. And a safe-feeling environment in which to go jogging in at 6 am. Ergo, Cool Springs et al. I'm still anticipating a massive shift of workspace to the suburbs where workers live, just like retail did 40 years ago. That would solve the commuting issue once and for all.

If you want to see urban living thrive, sell it to working women, mothers and housewives. Men will follow. Maybe I'm missing something, but dense city developments and mile-high skyscrapers seem to be more a guy's game.

In a more serious vein, we've gone over census projections on this forum before, and they are bleak. The Nashville MSA is projected to grow by 900,000 by 2035, but with only about 150,000 projected growth in Davidson County. If DavCo's growth was 500,000 of that 900,000 (which it should be) then we wouldn't need anything from Cool Springs! The reality, however, is that out of the projected 2.6 million living in the MSA by 2035 only 750,000 will reside in Nashville-Davidson County. That leaves almost two million people residing in the surrounding counties! Nashville will continue to trend older and poorer, and increasingly opportunity will not be found in a downtown skyscraper but a suburban office park or manufacturing complex. Cities are first and foremost creatures of economic activity. The 'burbs are here to stay.

What's Nashville's plan to reverse the trend? That's right - kill every development planned for Davidson County that isn't going downtown. Nashville should have a plan for a population of at least one million, and be able to show any visitor, any corporate officer, where new infrastructure will be built, new housing locations, old subdivisions to be densified into urban nodes, and public transportation connecting the nodes - the whoile shebang. Sadly, it can't seem to look past landing the next professional sports franchise.

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A bit off topic, but I don't find Bellevue to be horrid planning and land use. It's a suburb. There are many, many apartment complexes in Bellevue. Single-family homes tend to be on half acres in old areas and less than a quarter acre for new - much better than the standard acre of the prior decades. Then there's that huge condominium development, River Plantation, that certainly lived up to its name. Retail in Bellevue is clustered in three distinct areas, unlike the endless storefronts along main arteries in Nashville. And all that had to fit withing fairly rigid topography of hills, rivers and flood plains. All of the main roads within Bellevue were country roads to begin with, so there wasn't really an opportunity for wholesale road planning from a blank slate. As a suburb it's OK, but being so close to WilCo its developers were blindsided by the pace of growth in the adjacent county.

Better to ask how much of the tax money coming from Bellevue has been reinvested in Bellevue? I see a walking trail along the Harpeth done recently. A couple of the bridges have been rebuilt (probably with state money). They have a nice outdoor sports complex, but if I'm not mistaken the land was donated. They won't see a decent library until a private developer builds one for free. It doesn't even have a bleeping high school. Oh, but if that money for a high school and a library and walking trails and tar to bind together the last remaining pieces of asphalt in Bellevue was only spent on some new marquis development downtown - oh, what a fine city we'd be then!

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Interesting discussion. I have been an advocate of cities for decades. I never felt comfortable at home in the suburbs, in fact the Brookings Institution released the following back in 2011 about crime rates in the suburban areas:

"A Brookings Institute report shows that the difference between crime in the suburbs and cities has drastically decreased, and argues that the current drop in crime rates weakens the correlation between ethnic groups and crime.

In the 100 largest metro areas, violent and property crime between 1990 and 2008 decreased the most in cities.

"The gap between city and suburban violent crime rates declined in nearly two-thirds of metro areas. In 90 of the 100 largest metro areas, the gap between city and suburban property crime rates narrowed from 1990 to 2008. In most metro areas, city and suburban crime rates rose or fell together."

"Within metropolitan areas, older, more urbanized, poorer, and more minority communities have benefited the most from these trends, narrowing the disparities between cities and suburbs and underscoring that crime is not a uniquely urban issue, but a metropolitan one."

I don't think the suburbs are the utopia that people once thought that they would be. In some case, I actually feel safer in the city.

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It's well known that some suburbs have gone downhill over the past few decades, just as gentrification has lifted up many urban enclaves. There is now much poverty in suburbia compared to 1990. Naturally, if you add Antioch's crime to Crieve Hall's and divide by number of their total inhabitants you will see an overall increase in per-capita crime from 1990 through 2008. But that doesn't make Crieve Hall any less safe than 20 years ago. And nobody has labled Antioch a utopia.

"...and argues that the current drop in crime rates weakens the correlation between ethnic groups and crime."

Ethnic groups have been moving into suburbs for years. Rising crime rates in suburbs doesn't weaken the correlation between ethnic groups and crime unless one assumes everyone in the suburbs is white and middle class. In Antioch the higher crime rate corelates to a change in ethnic makeup.

"In the 100 largest metro areas, violent and property crime between 1990 and 2008 decreased the most in cities."

The years 1998 through 2008 are notable for the sheer number of people America has locked up, especially all those "non violent" drug users and sellers from disadvantaged ethnic groups. Clearly, that translates to an decrease in crime in high crime, heavy drug-traffic areas of town. But it hasn't make those bad parts of town utopias, either. And hwen we run out of money for incarceration, all those non-violent drug-dealing folks are going to go home.

"The gap between city and suburban violent crime rates declined in nearly two-thirds of metro areas. In 90 of the 100 largest metro areas, the gap between city and suburban property crime rates narrowed from 1990 to 2008. In most metro areas, city and suburban crime rates rose or fell together."

Don't confuse "narrowed" with "parity" in the above report. If per capita crime was 100 times worse in the city (not saying it is), ALL of the above from the Brookings report could still be true; i.e. if crime used to be 200 times worse in the city then crime rates would have indeed narrowed. If carjacking went from 4 to 8 in the suburbs and from 200 to 400 in the city over the same period, then yes the suburban and urban crime rates rose together.

Somewhere online there is an interactive map of crime in Davidson County. It is what it is. I hope you feel safe wherever you chose to live.

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It's well known that some suburbs have gone downhill over the past few decades, just as gentrification has lifted up many urban enclaves. There is now much poverty in suburbia compared to 1990. Naturally, if you add Antioch's crime to Crieve Hall's and divide by number of their total inhabitants you will see an overall increase in per-capita crime from 1990 through 2008. But that doesn't make Crieve Hall any less safe than 20 years ago. And nobody has labled Antioch a utopia.

"...and argues that the current drop in crime rates weakens the correlation between ethnic groups and crime."

Ethnic groups have been moving into suburbs for years. Rising crime rates in suburbs doesn't weaken the correlation between ethnic groups and crime unless one assumes everyone in the suburbs is white and middle class. In Antioch the higher crime rate corelates to a change in ethnic makeup.

"In the 100 largest metro areas, violent and property crime between 1990 and 2008 decreased the most in cities."

The years 1998 through 2008 are notable for the sheer number of people America has locked up, especially all those "non violent" drug users and sellers from disadvantaged ethnic groups. Clearly, that translates to an decrease in crime in high crime, heavy drug-traffic areas of town. But it hasn't make those bad parts of town utopias, either. And hwen we run out of money for incarceration, all those non-violent drug-dealing folks are going to go home.

"The gap between city and suburban violent crime rates declined in nearly two-thirds of metro areas. In 90 of the 100 largest metro areas, the gap between city and suburban property crime rates narrowed from 1990 to 2008. In most metro areas, city and suburban crime rates rose or fell together."

Don't confuse "narrowed" with "parity" in the above report. If per capita crime was 100 times worse in the city (not saying it is), ALL of the above from the Brookings report could still be true; i.e. if crime used to be 200 times worse in the city then crime rates would have indeed narrowed. If carjacking went from 4 to 8 in the suburbs and from 200 to 400 in the city over the same period, then yes the suburban and urban crime rates rose together.

Somewhere online there is an interactive map of crime in Davidson County. It is what it is. I hope you feel safe wherever you chose to live.

If (when) I move back to the Nashville area, I will probably choose to live in Williamson. Not because I hate Nashville (I love it!)... but because Williamson has more bang for your tax buck. The existence of Cool Springs is all about the free market taking up the slack where the competition failed (Nashvile). Not coincidentally, the rise of Williamson, Sumner (and to some degree Rutherford) and even Wilson, started in the 1970s. This was at a time when Metro was under court order to bus children across the county to their assigned schools. And suddenly, the focus of education in the county was NOT on actually educating the children who lived there. This is the legacy, and where you will abuse (politically) your power, there will be competitors to pick up and capitalize on the opportunity. Nashville has awakened, but it has legacy problems. Just today, I read about the Julia Green school "controversy" (whether to expand or not). Nashville's problems are unique to urban centers... all around the country. But the effect has been both detrimental and helpful. As such, I am convinced that Williamson County as a center for executive housing has helped Nashville far more than it has hurt the city proper. If not for Williamson County (or even Sumner and Rutherford), Nashville would probably be very much like Louisville, which has struggled between its city/county populations... and has has a tough time trying to convince prospective companies (i.e. it's always about where the executives want to live) to move there. Yes, there has been "sponging" of corporations from Davidson to Williamson (and it will continue to Wilson and Sumner)... but Nashville needs to be the "alternative" to their suburban lifestyles. That's my biggest beef with the decision of Mayor Dean to go with Bus Rapid Transit.... instead of actual rail. To put down rail would be yet another piece of the puzzle in building the core infrastructure that corporations would look at as an alternative to Williamson/Sumner/Wilson/Rutherford/et.al. Davison needs to be the "URBAN ALTERNATIVE", but so far, there doesn't seem to be the will to go "All Out!".

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Williamson County grew because of tax breaks that the Davidson County could not give. Furthermore, the Maryland's sold their farm off 40+ years ago when Nashville still had a vibrant downtown. They sold at what now would be cheap prices. The same holds true for the Cool Springs area. At one time in 1983 the only business in the area was the original corporate headquarters for Service Merchandise Company. Raymond Zimmerman got the land cheap. At one time senior management wanted him to locate in the mostly vacant L&C Tower which at that time could be purchased for 5 million. It recently sold 20 years later for 35 million, and Service Merchandise is out of business.

The reason sprawl areas grow is because county officials will sell out to big interests so they can get land cheap by promising jobs and tax revenue. Most of these jobs are low paying jobs. For every executive in Maryland Farms, there are a thousand making entry level wages. Since they need to increase the tax breaks to pay for schools, roads, etc, sometimes they end up buying private land and then reselling it cheap. They give tax breaks to land businesses, and the cycle continues.

One look through the real estate pages shows 500+ homes in the $500,000+ range in Williamson County that are for sale, short sale, and foreclosure. So much for life in the suburbs as being great.

There is a fallacy that Nashville Davidson County is in competition with Maryland Farms and Cool Springs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nashville has the Titans, Predators, Vanderbilt, Belmont, David Lipscomb, The CMA, and many other entities that further determine the growth of Nashville.

It's short sighted and naive to think Karl Dean has any real issue with Williamson County. Visitors spend billions every year in Nashville in tourism dollars, and this is more money than Williamson County will see in a multitude of years. I know businesses in Maryland Farms that stagger when they close the end of business because traffic is so bad. It has taken me an hour to drive from Granny White Pike to Franklin Road at 5 pm before, and I don't envy that. I don't envy any area that relies on the automobile, and you don't see Williamson County with effective public transportation either.

There is a misconception that Nashville wants what Cool Springs has. We don't want the miles and miles of surface parking lots, flood plains, traffic, thousands of fast food restaurants, and buildings that have no character and no history. Williamson County with the exception of Downtown Franklin has no character and no history. It's a Capitalist nightmare of greed, land misuse, and blatant disregard for the environment. Its full of carbon emissions and SUV's that get 8 miles to the gallon. No thank you!

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There is a misconception that Nashville wants what Cool Springs has. We don't want the miles and miles of surface parking lots, flood plains, traffic, thousands of fast food restaurants, and buildings that have no character and no history.

Unfortunately, you have just described what most of Nashville is. Granted, some people are working to change that, but not enough. Nashvillians, even many East Nashvillians, are just as guilty as any suburbanite of driving their cars a few blocks to the grocery store or neary restaurant, rather than walking there. And the miles of surface parking lots are full as are the drive-through lines at the thousands of fast food restaurants. Yes there is room for independents in Nashville as well as the chains, but the chains far outnumber the independents here.

The quality of the schools in the suburban areas is a huge deal for families. Yes, there are lots of young people in the city with toddlers, but once the eldest gets to be 4, see where they are living. And yes, lots of home sales in the city are to suburban empty nesters. But the fact is that you can live in the suburbs and still drive in to the city to see the Titans, the Predators, the Symphony, or eat at any of the trendy restaurants and still get back to your home in the suburbs where crime is low and your kids go to good schools. That is a huge thing to overcome in terms of getting families to move into the city.

I am fortunate enough to both live and work in Nashville, but even I have to own a car to get to my job. And I hate to say this, but I know a lot of East Nashville people who work downtown and still drive there even though a bus goes right past their house. It's hard to say if that would change if the new BRT were in place, because the existing BRT bus is pretty darned convenient already.

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Looks like a further push has already started. The exodus of Cool Springs...

Thompson's Station lands second corporate headquarters

Tiny Williamson County town prepares for growth, on its own terms

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120507/WILLIAMSON12/305070021/Thompson-s-Station-lands-second-corporate-headquarters?odyssey=obinsite

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Williamson County grew because of tax breaks that the Davidson County could not give. Furthermore, the Maryland's sold their farm off 40+ years ago when Nashville still had a vibrant downtown. They sold at what now would be cheap prices. The same holds true for the Cool Springs area. At one time in 1983 the only business in the area was the original corporate headquarters for Service Merchandise Company. Raymond Zimmerman got the land cheap. At one time senior management wanted him to locate in the mostly vacant L&C Tower which at that time could be purchased for 5 million. It recently sold 20 years later for 35 million, and Service Merchandise is out of business.

The reason sprawl areas grow is because county officials will sell out to big interests so they can get land cheap by promising jobs and tax revenue. Most of these jobs are low paying jobs. For every executive in Maryland Farms, there are a thousand making entry level wages. Since they need to increase the tax breaks to pay for schools, roads, etc, sometimes they end up buying private land and then reselling it cheap. They give tax breaks to land businesses, and the cycle continues.

One look through the real estate pages shows 500+ homes in the $500,000+ range in Williamson County that are for sale, short sale, and foreclosure. So much for life in the suburbs as being great.

There is a fallacy that Nashville Davidson County is in competition with Maryland Farms and Cool Springs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nashville has the Titans, Predators, Vanderbilt, Belmont, David Lipscomb, The CMA, and many other entities that further determine the growth of Nashville.

It's short sighted and naive to think Karl Dean has any real issue with Williamson County. Visitors spend billions every year in Nashville in tourism dollars, and this is more money than Williamson County will see in a multitude of years. I know businesses in Maryland Farms that stagger when they close the end of business because traffic is so bad. It has taken me an hour to drive from Granny White Pike to Franklin Road at 5 pm before, and I don't envy that. I don't envy any area that relies on the automobile, and you don't see Williamson County with effective public transportation either.

There is a misconception that Nashville wants what Cool Springs has. We don't want the miles and miles of surface parking lots, flood plains, traffic, thousands of fast food restaurants, and buildings that have no character and no history. Williamson County with the exception of Downtown Franklin has no character and no history. It's a Capitalist nightmare of greed, land misuse, and blatant disregard for the environment. Its full of carbon emissions and SUV's that get 8 miles to the gallon. No thank you!

I agree with a lot of what you are saying. Nashville shouldn't be wanting what Cool Springs has...not at all. That's one of the reasons I opposed May Town. I know May Town would be largely different from Cool Springs...but it would essentially have the same effect...drawing thousands of jobs and residents away from the central core. We already have a number of office parks around town...around the airport, near Grassmere, out in Hermitage, in the area bordering Brentwood, etc. Building a new office park would keep the money in county, but I would rather concentrate on making Downtown, SoBro, The Gulch, and West End more attractive for office growth. In order to do that, we need to make downtown more attractive...by being more accessible to commuters as well as core residents. Improve the interstate connections downtown, as well as the exit ramps (perhaps add left hand exit lanes on the downtown side of the loop to ease some of the merging traffic from I-65), improve the primary roads and surface streets in town. Add more public parking....garages (I would like to see a ban on large scale surface parking in the core -- at the very least, let's not be adding more), syncronize the lights in town to improve traffic flow, and for god's sake, let's get to work on a better public transit system.

As for things like the sports teams...that is a huge advantage the city has over the suburbs right now. While there are a few nightlife spots here or there in the suburbs...and plenty of restaurants...there's no doubt where the entertainment center of the region is. I think we're fortunate that we haven't taken the route that some cities have with suburban stadiums. That's not to say it can't ever happen here...but I think they are definitely safe for the time being. I also credit the arrival of the Preds and Titans for helping spur economic activity in the core, and keeping it far more active than it would be without them. Sporting events and concerts bring in a lot of out of county patrons, who not only spend their dollars on tickets, but on food/drinks and hotel rooms. That's a tremendous advantage, and something that nowhere else in the region can compete with right now, or in the near future.

And yes, as traffic gets worse, I do think that will benefit Nashville more than anywhere else in the end...but we have to diligently work on making Nashville as attractive as possible, so young professionals and the businesses they work for have an attractive spot they can relocate to in town. A big complaint in the past has been to how urbanites want to move to the city, but there simply weren't enough options for them. Now we're starting to change that. We need to keep pushing that. Last I checked, I think the loop only had about 10-11,000 residents. We need to at least triple that. I think we're on the right track...but we have a long way to go.

A lot of the 475 square miles of Nashville is suburban (or even rural, especially to the north and west)...and we have a small but growing urban core...with a lot of potential. Only about 200,000 people live inside the Briley/Thompson Ln/Woodmont/White Bridge loop (TN 155). That's the most urban part of the city...and we need to work on increasing the density so it is able to support viable public transportation...light rail or street cars would be nice...not just busses.

Some people (especially families) are going to always choose the suburbs over the city. So in a sense, you're right. We don't need to worry about that. We're not in competition for those people. We need to adequately provide an urban alternative, instead of most of the city being forced to adopt a suburban lifestyle.

Unfortunately, you have just described what most of Nashville is. Granted, some people are working to change that, but not enough. Nashvillians, even many East Nashvillians, are just as guilty as any suburbanite of driving their cars a few blocks to the grocery store or neary restaurant, rather than walking there. And the miles of surface parking lots are full as are the drive-through lines at the thousands of fast food restaurants. Yes there is room for independents in Nashville as well as the chains, but the chains far outnumber the independents here.

The quality of the schools in the suburban areas is a huge deal for families. Yes, there are lots of young people in the city with toddlers, but once the eldest gets to be 4, see where they are living. And yes, lots of home sales in the city are to suburban empty nesters. But the fact is that you can live in the suburbs and still drive in to the city to see the Titans, the Predators, the Symphony, or eat at any of the trendy restaurants and still get back to your home in the suburbs where crime is low and your kids go to good schools. That is a huge thing to overcome in terms of getting families to move into the city.

I am fortunate enough to both live and work in Nashville, but even I have to own a car to get to my job. And I hate to say this, but I know a lot of East Nashville people who work downtown and still drive there even though a bus goes right past their house. It's hard to say if that would change if the new BRT were in place, because the existing BRT bus is pretty darned convenient already.

Schools are the big issue. And a sensitive one. On one hand, we have a wildly successful magnet school program with two of the most elite schools in Tennessee. On the other hand, our regular schools are a mix of 'OK' and 'has major problems.' It's politically incorrect to focus entirely on the good schools, and let the bad or mediocre ones fail. Not saying we need to do that...but there needs to be a way for parents in this city to be able to assure that their kids can go to a good school. Personally, I'm an advocate for having kids work to get where they want to be...not just have a luck of the draw lottery decide their fate. A good bit of this responsibility lies on the parents, too. I don't think you can just ship your kid off to school (daycare) and expect the school to be responsible for their success. There needs to be reinforcement at the home level. But that's a social issue...not one that can simply be fixed by budgeting more money towards schools, or hiring good teachers. Some kids simply don't want to be there.

Pride is a key issue. We need to restore the pride in our education system. Unfortunately, I can't think of any politically acceptable method of accomplishing that. I would say, however, that neighborhood schools are better than bussing. Our high school clusters look like a pie chart. I know a lot of that is to make them more diverse...but at the same time, I think it ruins the sense of community within the school district.

Looks like a further push has already started. The exodus of Cool Springs...

Thompson's Station lands second corporate headquarters

Tiny Williamson County town prepares for growth, on its own terms

http://www.tennessea...dyssey=obinsite

This was only a matter of time from happening. With the opening of 840, that interchange with I-65 becomes extremely attractive. Kind of funny that it's happening in Thompson's Station, though, a city incorporated to stop the evil growth from Spring Hill. I guess they couldn't help themselves. Guess it's only a matter of time before they land a massive theme park/hotel/entertainment complex from some crackpot out of town developer. [/sarcasm]

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One look through the real estate pages shows 500+ homes in the $500,000+ range in Williamson County that are for sale, short sale, and foreclosure. So much for life in the suburbs as being great.

That may be true, but a $500,000 house is "normal" in Williamson County. The median sales price in much of the county is half a million bucks, so having 861 (as of today) houses for sale at or above the median home price in a county of 190,000 people isn't that bad at all. Also, there are essentially no foreclosures in Williamson County at this point. Having just gone through a house search in Nashville we initially looked for foreclosures and then quickly stopped since there wasn't really a great supply.

I separate Williamson County out from the other surrounding counties because I think its future is significantly different. Williamson County has a much more positive outlook simply because of the wealth and income levels there. Nothing in the metro area comes close to approaching the levels it has. The school issue is the main driver, and unfortunately one that my family will be forced to face in the coming years. We have a house in the urban core of Nashville now, but when our daughter reaches school age we will likely relocate. Regardless of people's opinion on urbanity and neighborhoods, when their children's education and safety at school is at stake (whether true or simply perception) they will choose to move to a better and safer school district 90% of the time if they can afford it and decide against private schools.

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There are thousands of families living in East Nashville near the urban core and they find educational opportunities that fit their children's needs. I don't want to see an exodus from the core. Many I have known did that, and then they eventually moved back to the core. Crime is just as bad in the suburbs as I stated earlier in the Brooking's Institution piece.

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Williamson County grew because of tax breaks that the Davidson County could not give. Furthermore, the Maryland's sold their farm off 40+ years ago when Nashville still had a vibrant downtown. They sold at what now would be cheap prices. The same holds true for the Cool Springs area. At one time in 1983 the only business in the area was the original corporate headquarters for Service Merchandise Company. Raymond Zimmerman got the land cheap. At one time senior management wanted him to locate in the mostly vacant L&C Tower which at that time could be purchased for 5 million. It recently sold 20 years later for 35 million, and Service Merchandise is out of business.

The reason sprawl areas grow is because county officials will sell out to big interests so they can get land cheap by promising jobs and tax revenue. Most of these jobs are low paying jobs. For every executive in Maryland Farms, there are a thousand making entry level wages. Since they need to increase the tax breaks to pay for schools, roads, etc, sometimes they end up buying private land and then reselling it cheap. They give tax breaks to land businesses, and the cycle continues.

One look through the real estate pages shows 500+ homes in the $500,000+ range in Williamson County that are for sale, short sale, and foreclosure. So much for life in the suburbs as being great.

There is a fallacy that Nashville Davidson County is in competition with Maryland Farms and Cool Springs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nashville has the Titans, Predators, Vanderbilt, Belmont, David Lipscomb, The CMA, and many other entities that further determine the growth of Nashville.

It's short sighted and naive to think Karl Dean has any real issue with Williamson County. Visitors spend billions every year in Nashville in tourism dollars, and this is more money than Williamson County will see in a multitude of years. I know businesses in Maryland Farms that stagger when they close the end of business because traffic is so bad. It has taken me an hour to drive from Granny White Pike to Franklin Road at 5 pm before, and I don't envy that. I don't envy any area that relies on the automobile, and you don't see Williamson County with effective public transportation either.

There is a misconception that Nashville wants what Cool Springs has. We don't want the miles and miles of surface parking lots, flood plains, traffic, thousands of fast food restaurants, and buildings that have no character and no history. Williamson County with the exception of Downtown Franklin has no character and no history. It's a Capitalist nightmare of greed, land misuse, and blatant disregard for the environment. Its full of carbon emissions and SUV's that get 8 miles to the gallon. No thank you!

Not exactly. Growth started accelerating in the 1970s long before tax incentives... and culminated with Cool Springs. Before 1990, that area was cow pastures. The schools have been better than other counties for decades... and when the mix of office and family amenities was in the offing... that's when things took off. It's as simple as that. In comparison, metro Nashville has a lot of legacy problems (not just schools), including a reputation for corruption (have you read about the election commission?). Etc.... etc... etc. Like I said, I will very likely move to Williamson... or maybe Sumner on the lake.

Edited by MLBrumby

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I agree with a lot of what you are saying. Nashville shouldn't be wanting what Cool Springs has...not at all. That's one of the reasons I opposed May Town. I know May Town would be largely different from Cool Springs...but it would essentially have the same effect...drawing thousands of jobs and residents away from the central core. We already have a number of office parks around town...around the airport, near Grassmere, out in Hermitage, in the area bordering Brentwood, etc. Building a new office park would keep the money in county, but I would rather concentrate on making Downtown, SoBro, The Gulch, and West End more attractive for office growth. In order to do that, we need to make downtown more attractive...by being more accessible to commuters as well as core residents. Improve the interstate connections downtown, as well as the exit ramps (perhaps add left hand exit lanes on the downtown side of the loop to ease some of the merging traffic from I-65), improve the primary roads and surface streets in town. Add more public parking....garages (I would like to see a ban on large scale surface parking in the core -- at the very least, let's not be adding more), syncronize the lights in town to improve traffic flow, and for god's sake, let's get to work on a better public transit system.

As for things like the sports teams...that is a huge advantage the city has over the suburbs right now. While there are a few nightlife spots here or there in the suburbs...and plenty of restaurants...there's no doubt where the entertainment center of the region is. I think we're fortunate that we haven't taken the route that some cities have with suburban stadiums. That's not to say it can't ever happen here...but I think they are definitely safe for the time being. I also credit the arrival of the Preds and Titans for helping spur economic activity in the core, and keeping it far more active than it would be without them. Sporting events and concerts bring in a lot of out of county patrons, who not only spend their dollars on tickets, but on food/drinks and hotel rooms. That's a tremendous advantage, and something that nowhere else in the region can compete with right now, or in the near future.

And yes, as traffic gets worse, I do think that will benefit Nashville more than anywhere else in the end...but we have to diligently work on making Nashville as attractive as possible, so young professionals and the businesses they work for have an attractive spot they can relocate to in town. A big complaint in the past has been to how urbanites want to move to the city, but there simply weren't enough options for them. Now we're starting to change that. We need to keep pushing that. Last I checked, I think the loop only had about 10-11,000 residents. We need to at least triple that. I think we're on the right track...but we have a long way to go.

A lot of the 475 square miles of Nashville is suburban (or even rural, especially to the north and west)...and we have a small but growing urban core...with a lot of potential. Only about 200,000 people live inside the Briley/Thompson Ln/Woodmont/White Bridge loop (TN 155). That's the most urban part of the city...and we need to work on increasing the density so it is able to support viable public transportation...light rail or street cars would be nice...not just busses.

Some people (especially families) are going to always choose the suburbs over the city. So in a sense, you're right. We don't need to worry about that. We're not in competition for those people. We need to adequately provide an urban alternative, instead of most of the city being forced to adopt a suburban lifestyle.

Schools are the big issue. And a sensitive one. On one hand, we have a wildly successful magnet school program with two of the most elite schools in Tennessee. On the other hand, our regular schools are a mix of 'OK' and 'has major problems.' It's politically incorrect to focus entirely on the good schools, and let the bad or mediocre ones fail. Not saying we need to do that...but there needs to be a way for parents in this city to be able to assure that their kids can go to a good school. Personally, I'm an advocate for having kids work to get where they want to be...not just have a luck of the draw lottery decide their fate. A good bit of this responsibility lies on the parents, too. I don't think you can just ship your kid off to school (daycare) and expect the school to be responsible for their success. There needs to be reinforcement at the home level. But that's a social issue...not one that can simply be fixed by budgeting more money towards schools, or hiring good teachers. Some kids simply don't want to be there.

Pride is a key issue. We need to restore the pride in our education system. Unfortunately, I can't think of any politically acceptable method of accomplishing that. I would say, however, that neighborhood schools are better than bussing. Our high school clusters look like a pie chart. I know a lot of that is to make them more diverse...but at the same time, I think it ruins the sense of community within the school district.

This was only a matter of time from happening. With the opening of 840, that interchange with I-65 becomes extremely attractive. Kind of funny that it's happening in Thompson's Station, though, a city incorporated to stop the evil growth from Spring Hill. I guess they couldn't help themselves. Guess it's only a matter of time before they land a massive theme park/hotel/entertainment complex from some crackpot out of town developer. [/sarcasm]

Too many people are still looking at things as Nashville vs. suburbs. The proverbial rising tide (suburbs) can lift all the boats (including Davidson). But there is no mistaking the fact that the growth rate of Davidson is far less than the surrounding counties. Now, even in total pop growth, Williamson and Rutherford are getting quite close to Davidson. Sumner's growth is accelerating.

There are thousands of families living in East Nashville near the urban core and they find educational opportunities that fit their children's needs. I don't want to see an exodus from the core. Many I have known did that, and then they eventually moved back to the core. Crime is just as bad in the suburbs as I stated earlier in the Brooking's Institution piece.

Competition is a great thing. As Davidson wakes up to the competition that exists just beyond its borders, then it too will see an incentive to improve its services. Win-Win!!!

Edited by MLBrumby

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Again, none of the quotes you presented from that Brookings report support your thesis that crime is just as bad in the suburbs as in the city. Can you post an exerpt that says so conclusively?

Help me out - If Brentwood and Cool Springs are the suburbs, and if "inside the Briley/Thompson Ln/Woodmont/White Bridge loop" is the city, then what do we call the area in Davidson surrounding the city (downtown, urban core, Walhalla, however one likes to refer to it) where fully two thirds of Nashvillians live? Personally, I call it the red-headed stepchild. No, downtown Nashville is not in competition with Cool Springs. However, suburban Nashville-Davidson IS. It's loosing, and, again, it has no advocates. It simply reposes in ever-more advanced states of disrepair and outdated/overtaxed infrastructure. It's only hope is private development that is enticed to invest in improving surrounding, ancient infrastructure as a condition for development.

You can't just go around hating Cool Springs. You have to compete by implementing a better alternative. And the way for Davidson County to compete with all comers is to revert to separate city-county governments and separate city-county schools. That would take the wind out of WilCo's sail.

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Too many people are still looking at things as Nashville vs. suburbs. The proverbial rising tide (suburbs) can lift all the boats (including Davidson). But there is no mistaking the fact that the growth rate of Davidson is far less than the surrounding counties. Now, even in total pop growth, Williamson and Rutherford are getting quite close to Davidson. Sumner's growth is accelerating.

Growth rate is essentially meaningless when you look at the huge disparity between the total population of Davidson and surrounding counties. The growth rate for Davidson was 11.5% from 90-00, and 10% from 00-10. While not a huge percentage number, that's a very healthy rate...3rd among the big 4 counties, and only slightly behind Knox in overall percentage (but with more than 19,000 more in actual number).

In numerical growth, yes, Williamson is inching closer to Davidson...but it has never passed it. Rutherford grew by 80,581 from 00-10 compared to Davidson's 56,790 over the same period. In fact, Rutherford has beaten Davidson in numerical growth every decade over the past 3 Censuses, the only county in the state to do so.

So in the case of Rutherford, yes, they are beating us in growth. Not so in the other counties. Yes, they are growing at a much higher rate...but honestly, do you want to see Davidson growing at a 25-30% clip? 30% growth would mean 188,000 new residents. In 10 years. No thanks. I'd rather stick to around 10-12% growth for the time being.

As for Sumner...numerical growth saw a slight bump between 90-00 and 00-10 (27,168 vs. 30,196), but an overall decrease in percentage (26.3% vs. 23.1%).

Here are the top 10 counties in Tennessee in raw growth over the past 20 years (1990-2010):

1) Rutherford - 144,034

2) Davidson - 115,897

3) Williamson - 102,161

4) Shelby - 101,314

5) Knox - 96,477

6) Montgomery - 71,833

7) Sumner - 57,364

8) Hamilton - 50,927

9) Wilson - 46,318

10) Sevier - 38,846

Obviously, the largest share has been going to the suburbs...but it's not like Davidson's growth has been anything close to stagnant. Still 2nd in the state over the time period...and based off of the most recent Census estimates, 1st in the state, and accelerating. We'll see if it holds.

Crime is just as bad in the suburbs as I stated earlier in the Brooking's Institution piece.

This is just flat out wrong. I mean, there are a lot of faults you can post about in regards to suburbs...but (especially) specific to Nashville, this is not one of them. Crime has risen in the suburbs...but so has population growth...on a massive level. Still, crime is nowhere near the level it is in the city. I'm not going to even bother pulling the statistics, because that's one of the most ridiculous statements I've ever read.

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The most telling part for me is that 6 out of 95 counties are in middle Tennessee. Time to finally get the commuter rail in place!

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The most telling part for me is that 6 out of 95 counties are in middle Tennessee. Time to finally get the commuter rail in place!

I definitely agree with that. And busses and shuttles need to be integrated into that system. With I-24 being the constant nightmare that it is -- and only getting worse, there definitely needs to be an alternative to the interstate. And express coaches aren't going to cut it.

I think the RTA has a good vision, but we need to get the ball rolling. I know there are obviously some issues with getting federal funding, because the clowns in Washington can't balance a checkbook, but we need to go ahead and get the groundwork laid now, before it gets so bad that it has a (more) negative impact on the region.

I know Wilson Co. is the trial line...and a real budget pincher as far as spending...but of the bigger suburban counties, it's the one that should naturally have the lowest ridership, due to a lower population. Murfreesboro/Smyrna/La Vergne/Antioch and Gallatin/Hendersonville/Rivergate/Madison really need to start a line now.

I don't know if Williamson will work especially well right off the bat...but eventually the traffic problems are going to force the issue.

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A major part of the problem I'm sure is with CSX and them wanting ungodly amounts of $$$ for use of their rails. Just read up on the whole SunRail ordeal in metro Orlando that is finally under construction.

A line to the Boro is very logical and in my opinion highest priority because the line is heavily populated except through the areas between Antioch and La Vergne and again between the Nissan interchange in Smyrna and Thompson Lane in the Boro and that the population growth is highest in this corridor..

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I think a Williamson rail line would be 2nd or 3rd in line (no pun intended) next to Rutherford. The line could work well for both in and out commutes (Williamson to Nashville and vice versa since I am sure some people live in Nashville and work in Cool Springs, etc) and until LRT is established the line could support special events. I know many Predators fans come from the Williamson area. The traffic on 65 south of town is only going to get worse and the widening is only a small bandage on the problem.

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