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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Creating Places: Green Hills Sidewalk

On a positive note for those of us who want to see more sidewalks throughout Nashville, the Metro Public Works Department is installing a sidewalk in Green Hills on the north side of Glen Echo Road between Benham Avenue (visualize the library) on the west and Belmont Boulevard on the east. Currently, right-of-way is being cleared to make room for a retaining wall, with stormwater infrastructure to follow. Actual work on the sidewalk should begin in about six weeks and require another six weeks to complete. The price tag is $1 million. Of note, a segment of this stretch of Glen Echo (and on the road's south side) features an unattractive and somewhat unsafe (given its minimal elevation) asphalt sidewalk that was likely constructed in the 1950s. I assume it will go and, we hope, be replaced by a curb.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Creating Places: 28th Avenue Connector

Mayor Karl Dean and various civic movers and shakers held a formal groundbreaking today for the much-anticipated 28th Avenue Connector (aka the 28th/31st Avenue Connector) and I do trust the festivities were quite exciting. All sarcasm aside, the project is a big deal on various levels, including price tag ($18 million), connectivity (always good for place-making) and the potential for spurring development. With the latter, however, I don't anticipate "pedestrian-oriented" development such as boutique shops and speciality eateries. In the end, the connector likely will be used by motorists and eyed by those who develop office buildings for medical entities. That's not a bad thing – but for community leaders to predict expansive and varied infill, as they have the past two years, seems a bit overly optimistic.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Creating Places: West End buildings

Driving along West End Avenue yesterday during the early evening, I caught a quick glance at the hideous building home to Electronic Express and shuddered. The color scheme, lack of detail, excessively large (and jarringly red) signage and overall lack of quality materials render this building a piece of junk that has no business on the city's most high-profile street. In fact, the EE building might be West End's most foul structure. Another "fine" example of a nasty building on the street is the cheaply built strip center across from Vanderbilt University and home to Office Depot (on a positive note, the Pinkberry signage has nicely enlivened the east side of the building). With this in mind, I am going to soon create a ranking of the five to 10 ugliest buildings — those that most need to be razed and replaced — on West End between 17th Avenue and Interstate 440. I will not include the structures that house fast food eateries as all — save for, perhaps, the new-look McDonald's — are no more attractive than the human excrement that results from the consumption of the poison these places serve.

More to follow.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Creating Places: Random Observations

A few quick hits as I watch the Oklahoma City Thunder pound the Memphis Grizzlies — clearly deflated and disheartened after their three-overtime loss Monday night in the Bluff City:

* On-site work on Southern Land Co.'s 2300 Elliston Place is slated to begin by July. And a new name and rendering are forthcoming.

* The new gymnasium at Christ the King on Belmont Boulevard is looking very attractive. Conversely, the building to be home to Nordstrom (similar to the gym in that its exterior is essentially void of windows) is very bland.

* I'm very impressed with the exterior materials, shapes, colors and signage for Kayne Prime in the Gulch. Very tasteful.

* The lawn and garden lot in 12South now sports a sign for a proposed building. I spotted for the first time today and, given I was driving, did not get the details. The sign image suggested the building, if it materializes, will be mixed-use.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Creating Places: Westin Part II

Word on the street is that Denver-based Sage Hospitality Resources is looking at SoBro for its long-proposed Westin Hotel project, previously slated for Broadway between Second and Third avenues.

More to follow.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Creating Places: Germantown update

The past three or four times I've driven past the work site for The Square at Fourth and Madison, I've seen no construction activity. If anybody has an update, please provide.

Here is the project's website:

Creating Places: Polar Cold Storage Buiding

Demolition has officially started, as Atlanta-based TriBridge is prepping the site for Eleven North. The company says the first building (the two will house 302 apartments) will be ready for occupancy in April 2012. I can't see that, but August of that year does seem reasonable.