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.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Creating Places: A Grand gesture

In an interesting development, Nashville-based high-end ground transportation company Grand Avenue announced today it will donate $85,000 to support Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee's efforts to promote effective mass transit in the region.

I note "interesting" in that Grand Avenue is a private company, while the future of mass transit in the area likely will be driven by the public sector. But Grand Avenue President Carl Haley is a smart man. I conducted an in-person interview with him recently and quickly realized he "gets it." Haley knows that public and private alternative forms of transportation — in this part of the country, "alternative forms of transportation" means just about anything other than a private vehicle — can work hand in hand. If Nashville offers a strong and vibrant mass transit system, Grand Avenue's sleek, comfortable (and often luxurious) buses, vans and limos can both supplement that system and garner business from it. The argument, very simply, is that the more folks who get from Point A to Point B in some manner other than the use of their private vehicles, the more receptive they become to using any form of mass and/or alt transit. in steps Grand Avenue.

Yes, Haley is a businessman who stands to make money if his company benefits from a community that is much more receptive, then is currently the case, to alternative modes of transportation. Maybe I'm giving him too much credit for being benevolent. But my chat suggests the man does sincerely like mass transit and thinks it would be cool if Nashville was more like Portland than, well, Nashville. He could fold Grand Avenue tomorrow and still want bus rapid transit, a modern street car, WeCar, motor scooters, bikes and Segways filling our streets — instead of massive single-occupancy vehicles.

So I commend Haley and hope the classy folks at Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee make good use of the $85,000.


  1. I would expect to see this type of news in another section of the City Paper.

    Do you work in PR for Grand Avenue?

  2. Be carefule what you aspire to, and be happy for what you have.

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