A much-debated $18 million pedestrian bridge that could become a destination itself will soon connect the Gulch and SoBro.
Mayor Karl Dean’s bridge uniting downtown Nashville’s two hottest neighborhoods for walkers and cyclists is cleared for construction after clearing final approval in the Metro Council on Tuesday.
The council voted 30-7 to approve acquiring land where the 700-foot bridge would connect south of Cummins Station and between the Velocity condominiums and Pine Street Lofts in the Gulch. Land acquisition will cost about $1 million.
Construction could begin next summer on the bridge. It probably will open in the fall of 2016.
“Economic activity happening in the Gulch benefits the entire city, and a pedestrian bridge that links the Gulch to downtown will only help continue that momentum,” Dean said in a statement.
“This vote helps us invest in infrastructure to keep our city connected, and I appreciate the Metro Council moving this project forward.”
The bridge, designed to increase walkability between two growing areas severed by railroads, looked in doubt when council members last spring balked at using general tax revenue to bankroll its costs. They voted 30-2 then to defer it indefinitely. Several had bemoaned that the project represented another big-ticket project downtown while neighborhoods in other parts of the county are in need of sidewalks and other infrastructure.
Dean’s administration, though, scrapped that financing plan and put forth a new one that relies on tax-increment-financing — property tax revenues generated by seven Gulch properties would pay for the bridge by 2022.
His administration also committed $17 million in new sidewalk projects countywide in this year’s budget and pledged more dollars will go toward the same thing in the next budget.
In the end, that combination swayed just as many votes as at its derailing in the spring. Those who voted against it were council members Charlie Tygard, Steve Glover, Emily Evans, Carter Todd, Larry Hagar, Bruce Stanley and Robert Duvall.
In other business Tuesday, historic preservationists scored a victory, with the council voting down a plan that could have led to a makeover of the historic Trail West store building on Lower Broadway.
At issue is a block of property at Broadway and Third Avenue South still unprotected by the rest of the area’s historic overlay, as a way to accommodate a Westin Hotel proposed in 2007 but never built.
Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, who represents downtown, had proposed an ordinance to extend the historic overlay to include this block, but at the last minute had sought to exclude the Trail West property at 217-219 Broadway. There, broker Marshall Karr, who recently purchased the property, is eyeing a three-story, open-air structure anchored by a steakhouse.
Gilmore’s amendment to exclude the Trail West building from the overlay, however, failed by a 14-20 vote. Later, Gilmore’s motion to withdraw the legislation, which could have enabled the demolition of the building, failed as well by a 12-21 vote.
“Historic preservation is what makes downtown Nashville great,” said Councilwoman Emily Evans, who sought to protect the Trail West building. “It is the golden goose. Let’s not kill it.”
Ultimately, the legislation was deferred indefinitely. Gilmore said she would seek a consensus before bringing something back to the table.
Reach Joey Garrison at 615-259-8236 and on Twitter @joeygarrison.
About the bridge
The pedestrian bridge will feature a soaring 200-foot tower visible across downtown, 30 multistrand stay cables and raised park space along its entire surface.
Written by Joey Garrison
Article from Tennessean