Sunday, March 6, 2011

Shaking off the dust...

It's been almost two years since our last post.

And there are plenty of reasons as to why this blog has been abandoned for so long...

First off, I am the sole author, and playing dad to two baby boys and running a design business out of my home has not allowed me to devote the time I once did to this effort.

Secondly, as a result of the stagnant economy, there hasn't been much development or investment along Charlotte, or anywhere else for that matter. But slowly and surely, progress is starting to crop up like the daffodils that are just starting to peek through the thawed ground.

There is much to discuss - and while most of this may be old news to most, I find it important to recap the progress that's been made thus far as well, as a few set backs.

Here are some of the biggest stories affecting Charlotte Avenue over the past two years...

The catastrophic flood of May 1, 2010 will live in the memories of Nashvillians for a long time to come. Lives were lost and countless homes and businesses were devastated in what was probably Nashville's worst natural disaster to date. Richland Creek, which crosses Charlotte Avenue near 53rd Avenue, swelled well beyond it's banks and even filled a stone quarry in a matter of hours a few miles north. Many homes and businesses along the creek's floodplain were pummeled by the flood waters. Thankfully, most businesses along Charlotte have since recovered and the hope is that the flood will be a sign to any future development near the creek to be thoughtful and sustainable.

Anchoring the far west side of Charlotte, Nashville West continues to thrive with the addition of a new Hill Center that includes a Publix and Bank of America. A new park, and a plethora of new restaurants and retail shops have opened up including, Buffalo Wild Wings, NY Pie, IHOP, and Firehouse Subs to name a few. Chik-Fil-A plans to open a location along Annex Avenue by late summer, which would be the first stand alone location of the popular fast food chain to set up shop in Nashville proper (There are "mini-Chik-Fil-As" in the AT&T building downtown as well as on the campus of Lipscomb University).

Nashville made the police at the West Precinct happy when it purchased the former Ford dealership at 5500 Charlotte Avenue with plans to build a new and improved headquarters and DNA lab. Unfortunately, the May flood inflicted damage on the property which will more than likely delay the initial grand opening of September 2011. A demolition permit was recently issued, and work has begun on the site. However, as a result of the flood and the property's proximity to Richland Creek, the revised plan no longer includes the DNA lab.

The Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ lot at the corner of 46th and Charlotte Avenues now sits vacant as the dozers finally descended upon the historic structure and left nothing behind. The property is still for sale and whatever happens on this corner will no doubt define the future of the corridor.

The Great Escape, long a favorite haunt for comic book collectors and vinyl purists, recently left its home in Midtown and took up space in the Richland Creek shopping center. The space is much larger and I have to imagine the rent is much better as well. Definitely a positive development for the area.

One negative development (in my opinion), has been the unwelcome arrival of Ava's Adult, an adult oriented retail shop that opened up in a strip center across from Morrow Road. The owner has every right to be there (however it is rumored that the Council will try to revise city codes to prevent such a business from opening up so close to schools/churches/parks in the future), but it's the eye sore billboard that sits above Charlotte that has really drawn the ire of many neighbors. Neighborhood efforts to lease at least one side of the billboard with a "Welcome to West Nashville" message were unsuccessful.

The long awaited 28th Avenue/31st Avenue Connector that will link West End and Charlotte Avenues made it into Mayor Dean's budget for this year. The concept plans call for a "complete street" that includes sidewalks, a planting strip and bike lanes. Also included in the plan is a storm water park and gateway monuments. For more details on the plan, you can visit the page that Public Works has created here. There have been no indications of when this project will begin and how long it will take to complete.

However, there is speculation that this overdue project will jump start the revitalization of Charlotte Avenue. (see related stories from Nashville Business Journal here and here.)

In the wake of the Connector announcement, development in the medical district continues to show promise. Some buildings that have already been completed are Charlotte 2300 Professional Center (pictured above) and 1914 Charlotte Medical.

Health Care REIT recently secured a total of 16 acres adjacent to the planned connector and plans to construct a multi-building, mixed-use development. See story from Nashville Post here.

Around the same time of this announcement, local health care giant HCA made headlines in a land swap with Nashville that will result in a brand new public health center along Charlotte.

From Nashville Post:

"Under the agreement, HCA will finance and supervise the construction of a new 104,000-square-foot public health facility to replace Metro’s outdated Lentz Health Center. When the development is complete, HCA will turn over the new building and its 3.5-acre parcel of land to the city in exchange for the Lentz Center property, which is located adjacent to HCA’s Centennial Medical Center."

Read rest of story here.

The West Nashville Farmers Market will be entering its second full season this May after a pilot program started at Richland Park in the summer 2009. The popular market runs from May through October and is every Saturday from 9-12 pm. It is definitely a positive force for change as it has breathed new life into Richland Park and maybe been a sign to potential developers along Charlotte, that if you build it...they will come.

There are a few other things on the horizon that could spell a bright future for Charlotte Avenue. I'll do my best to keep you informed as more details emerge. Thanks for reading.

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