Nashville Mayor Karl Dean announced Tuesday major developments on city-owned property along the Cumberland River downtown.
The mayor's announcement, made from the top of the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge, includes repurposing the former Thermal Transfer Plant as a 12-acre civic park, including an amphitheater, green space and greenways, and a new 4.5-acre park in front of LP Field to include new green space, pedestrian and bike paths, and easy access to the river for boaters. The new park and landing will connect with the 6-acre Cumberland Park south of the pedestrian bridge.
"By making our riverfront a destination, it creates energy and excitement in the city," Dean said at the press conference. "On the east bank, we are adding green space and improving access to the water for people to canoe, kayak and row. On the west side, the Thermal site is the last great vestige of open space in downtown Nashville. I can't think of a better use for such beautiful green space than an iconic park that all Nashvillians will be proud of and enjoy."
The master plan envisions transforming the west riverfront into a civic park for residents, downtown workers and visitors for events and daily enjoyment. The tree-lined promenade would visually connect the riverfront and provide a shaded path from Korean Veterans Boulevard north to Church Street. Eighteen-foot flood wall markers would line the promenade, providing places for temporary walls to slide in between the markers if the river was at risk of flooding, a mitigation measure recommended in Metro's Unified Flood Preparedness Plan.
Metro already owns the property involved in the west and east bank redevelopment and has funds in place to move forward, according to the mayor.
The West Riverfront Master Plan grew out of the SoBro Master Plan, which recommended making use of the Thermal site as a civic space. A request for proposal for a final design of the first phase of the west bank redevelopment will be issued this week, which will focus on the flood wall promenade and Thermal site.
The Metro Council previously approved approximately $35 million in three previous capital spending plans for riverfront redevelopment on the west bank. Additionally, MDHA recently transferred about $7 million in federal flood aid to west bank redevelopment, which will be used to help build the flood wall. Significant portions of construction on the west bank could be completed in 2015.
Redevelopment of the Thermal site will include connectivity to the existing 6.5-acre Riverfront Park. Major components envisioned in the Thermal site include:
The Green: This 1.5 acre green event lawn would be about three-and-a-half times the size of the green at Public Square. Conceptually, it could accommodate a soccer field and be a place for picnics and Frisbee games. It is envisioned to be flanked by a series of gardens and an urban dog park.
Bowl: This 3.5 acre expanse of green space would accommodate an outdoor performance venue and be available to residents for daily enjoyment on non-event days. The amphitheater is envisioned to have capacity for 6,500, including removable seating for 2,500. Progressive banking on the slope allows for greater visibility to the stage and the city skyline. It could accommodate performances from the Nashville Symphony and host the existing uses of the site, which have included the city's July 4 celebration, the CMA Music Festival and the Zac Brown Band's Southern Ground Music and Food Festival.
Greenways: A mile of new greenway weaves in and around the entire site and would extend the Rolling Mill Hill Greenway to the Riverfront Greenway, which already connects all the way to MetroCenter. The new greenways would be the final connector to create a two-mile continuous walking/biking path loop connecting downtown to the east bank and back, using the Woodland Street and Shelby Pedestrian Bridge.
On the east bank, construction is expected to begin this fall for the park and river landing. According to the mayor's office, the design phase on the landing has been completed and a request for proposal will be issued shortly.
Metro Council previously approved $6 million in the FY 2010 capital spending for the project. This investment would be part of approximately $30 million in east bank redevelopment that includes the Bridge Building and Cumberland Park.
The riverboat landing park will bring to life a section of the riverfront in front of LP Field by constructing a new, flat upper park containing trees, green space, a plaza, moveable chairs and tables and pedestrian and bike pathways that will connect to the Bridge Building and Cumberland Park. It will provide new open space for temporary athletic fields, tailgating, special events, festivals and daily use as a place for recreation.
A lower park will provide a flatter, gentler slope to the river's edge to improve access to the water for boaters. It will include seating areas, new trees, picnic areas, a meadow garden and an uninterrupted view of downtown. A concrete landing mat will accommodate canoes, kayaks and crew teams. There will also be docking space for the General Jackson and other large boats and a floating dock for smaller motorized boats. An attractive plaza will be built beneath Ghost Ballet.
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