Metro unveils protections for Music Row – The Tennessean
The Metro Planning Department is proposing a first-of-its-kind Music Row Code that would fight back against the demolition of historic buildings and encourage new developmentÂ that keeps the famous corridor a thriving place for music-related businesses.
The ambitious proposal comes 16 months after the department took a timeout on new development for Music Row and after about nine months of community meetings about a new land use policy.
The proposal would preserve historic buildings on Music Row by making it more difficult to tear them down and replace them with non-music business developments.
Under the plan unveiled in private conversations with Metro Council members on Monday, Music Row would be divided into four sections, each with different height and setback requirements. A community meeting to unveil the proposedÂ code was held Monday night.
Proposals to tear down buildings considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places would need approval from a new Music Row design review committee under the proposal, according to Planning Executive Director Doug Sloan.
That committee would give consideration to whether the zoning proposal enhances the fabric of Music Row. Months of public meetings revealed that the communityâs top priority is to keep Music Row as a music business corridor. The boundaries extend from the Demonbreun Hill roundabout to Wedgewood AvenueÂ along 16th AvenueÂ SouthÂ and 17th AvenueÂ South.
Preservationists published a report last year identifying 66 buildings worthy of placement on the National Register. The first of those properties, publishing house and recording studio House of David, is on the brink of being added to the list.
The proposal unveiled Monday would not give out demolition permits without approval from the new design review committee. Any building knocked down without the proper approval would be subject to a one-year construction freeze, according to the proposal.
And even proposals to tear down buildings not considered eligible for the Historic Register would need approval from the design review committee, though there would be less stringent qualifications for getting the proper approval in those cases.
The Music Row Code would need Metro Council approvalÂ âÂ another drastic difference from what had been in the works. It was previously believed that the department was working on land use guidelines related to height, density and setbacks.
Sloan said the goal is to give teeth to the land use policy that has been months in the making.
âOtherwise, weâre just saying, âPretty please donât do this,âÂ â Sloan said.
The planning commission is scheduled to hear the proposal at a public hearing Aug. 11.
âThe planning department will request that the council take the additional step of creating a new zoning district to address what weâve heard throughout this process of envisioning what Music Row is going to look like in the future,â Sloan said. âWeâre asking this new zoning district speak not only to the preservation of the history on Music Row, but also to new development thatâs going to occur âÂ to allow the flexibility of new development, but make sure itâs done in a way thatâs respectful to the National Register sites that exist on Music Row today.
âBut putting it in the zoning code, as opposed to just a policy, it will be enforceable in every development.â
The department would like feedback who should be on the new design review committee, Sloan said. He said he believed community stakeholders such as property owners, music business executives and representatives from the universities that own multiple Music Row buildings, Vanderbilt and Belmont, would make sense to serve on the committee.
In JanuaryÂ planning officials unveiled height restrictions for new developments on Music Row that range from three stories at the south end of the corridor near Belmont, then increasing to fiveÂ and then eight stories for most of the Row. Properties near the Demonbreun Hill roundabout may go up to 20 stories under the proposal.
The department also plans to suggest setback requirements of between 15 and 20 feet for most of Music Row. There will also be a call for infrastructure upgrades to the sidewalks, streetscape, lighting, parking and alley system that is so integral to Music Row, according to Metro planner Stephanie McCullough.
The fate of Music Row has been of great interest since 2014 when a Brentwood development company purchased historic RCA Studio A with plans to demolish the complex in favor of condos. The community fought the plans and preservationists, led by businessman Aubrey Preston, stepped in to buy the building and save it from the wrecking ball.
Music Row is bordered by Midtown, the Gulch and Belmont neighborhoods, making it some of the most desirable real estate in the city.
In addition to the planning department’sÂ land use proposal, two Music Row organizations and local preservationists recommendedÂ earlier this year the creation of a cultural industry district, which would be the first of its kind Tennessee.
The cultural industry district would allow local nonprofits to apply for low-interest loans and implement other preservation tools with the goal of saving Music Rowâs famous buildings.
Tourism will also play a crucial role, with the National Trust for Historic Preservation working with the Music Industry Coalition to create a new walking tour app for smartphones.
Metro Council would need to pass legislation to create the cultural industry district.
Reach Nate Rau at 615-259-8094 and follow him on Twitter @tnnaterau.