Nashville city leaders have proposed giving Church Street Park to a downtown developer, but not everyone is in favor of the idea.
Mayor David Briley will consider alternatives to a controversial land-swap plan led by developer Tony Giarratana that would have allowed him to build a tower on Church Street Park.
“Mayor Briley recognizes that there have been concerns regarding this process to date,” Briley spokesman Thomas Mulgrew said Tuesday in a statement. “Therefore, the Mayor is willing to look at all available options – including issuing a (request for proposal) – moving forward.”
The contentious deal would turn the park at Sixth and Church over to Giarratana — where he has proposed what would be the city’s tallest building — in exchange for his parking lot next to the Morris Memorial building at the corner of Third Avenue and and James Robertson Parkway.
The park has long been a point of contention for the community because it is a gathering place for homeless people.
Briley and Giarratana had proposed swapping a nearby parking lot site for Church Street Park. Giarratana would build a condo tower at the Church street site, the city would convert the parking lot into a park, using $2 million from Giarratana. The mayors office said Giarratana sought a 65-story tower.
Giarratana had said he would invest up to $5 million to commercialize Anne Dudley Dallas Boulevard, which runs by the Church Street Park, and to create a dog park.
Metro had not taken up the proposal but the Metropolitan Board of Parks and Recreation narrowly approved the plan in early November with a 4-3 vote.
Giarratana confirmed to the Tennessean on Tuesday he was recently informed that Metro would issue a request for proposal for the property. He estimated the land-swap proposal he offered was valued “conservatively” at $12 million and would generate $3 million in new, annual property tax revenue.
“The proposed swap elegantly addresses several important and lingering and compounding issues, such as on-street homelessness, accessible urban public space, and Metro cash flow, not to mention adding additional residential units and residents in a stunning new tower,” Giarratana said in an emailed statement. “We stand ready to execute the transaction but were recently informed that Metro intends to issue a request for proposal for the park parcel.”
Briley’s shift on the deal was first reported by The Nashville Business Journal.
Opponents of Mayor David Briley’s deal to turn Church Street Park — at Sixth and Church — over to developer Tony Giarrantana for a 65-story residential tower say it should be given a chance to remain a public space. (Photo: Larry McCormack / The Tennessean)
Critics of the land-swap deal include the Hermitage Hotel, which owns most of a block facing the park, and the Nashville Civic Design Center. Hermitage Hotel manager Dee Patel has said the hotel would have wanted an opportunity to weigh in on decisions or to purchase the park, rather than allowing one development group to determine the park’s future.
Both the Hermitage Hotel and the civic design center have said there could be other alternatives for the park that could benefit the city — beyond the status quo or a condo tower.
As part of an initial proposal for the swap, Briley had hoped to build a services center and 100-unit apartment building for the homeless on Metro-owned land at the intersection of Second Avenue and Gay Street.
Briley told the Tennessean on Monday that the housing facility is no longer connected to the swap. However, he said his administration was “days away” from issuing a request for proposals to create the already announced 100 permanent supportive housing for those experiencing homelessness in Nashville.
Reach Jamie McGee at 615-259-8071 and on Twitter @JamieMcGee_.
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