Creating Places: A Citizen Observer's Look at Nashville's Built Environment

Writer's Note: William Williams' interest in the manmade environment dates to 1970, at which point the then-young Williams started a collection of postcards of city skylines. The collection now numbers 1,000-plus cards. Among the writer's specific interests are exterior building design, city district planning, demographics, signage, mixed-use development, mass transit and green/sustainable construction and living. Williams began his Creating Places column with The City Paper in February 2005. The column in its original form was discontinued in September 2008 and reinvented via this blog in November 2008. Creating Places can be found on the home page of the website of The City Paper, at which Williams has worked in various capacities since October 2000.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Creating Places: 2009 Review, Part II

We resume with some random 2009 successes and disappointments regarding Nashville's manmade environment.

Major success: Deaderick Street overhaul.

Overlooked semi-success: The painting of three non-descript stucco buildings (those home to the Hampton Inn and Electronic Express, both on West End Avenue, and that home to the Ramada Inn in the shadows of LP Field). The buildings remain, obviously, architectural insignificant. But a facelift courtesy of some fresh paint has helped a tad. Similarly, the new-look Holiday Inn and McDonald's (both on West End) are nice improvements compared to their previous iterations.

Minimal success and a missed opportunity: TDOT's alteration of Hillsboro Road between I-440 and Graybar Lane. Traffic flows better and a sidewalk segment was added along the east side of the road at Woodmont Boulevard. Retaining walls and bus bench pads look nice and provide some functionality. Still, a full sidewalk spanning the east shoulder of Hillsboro would have been huge. Hundreds of folks live in the apartments and condos along that stretch and could have used a sidewalk to stroll to Green Hills on a nice day. Though acquiring the land for a sidewalk might have been tricky (and expensive), this was a lost opportunity. At the minimum, TDOT should have installed curbs on both sides of Hillsboro.

Painful losses: The quaint old-school building home to Mario's and located in Midtown burned to the ground. Furthermore, the vintage brick buildings along Church Street (catty-corner from the Downtown YMCA) and in the block bordered by Second, Third, Demonbreun and Malloy were demolished. LifeWay owned the former, while Giarratana Development owned the latter. There was a day when downtown and Midtown boasted a sea of cool old buildings. That day is long passed.