Following an unprecedented meeting last night which gathered several of Nashville’s most prominent real estate developers, representatives for the group of land moguls called a press conference this morning to announce that Nashville is now facing a “critical shortage” of historic buildings to destroy and replace with condominiums and tourist businesses.
“At the current rate of consumption, we estimate that downtown Nashville’s rich supply of charming, late 19th/early 20th-century buildings to destroy and replace with condos will be fully depleted within three years” announced Seth Jacobsen, a spokesperson for the Davidson Urban Monuments and Building Annihilation Specialists Society. “Put simply, we are running out of beautiful, old structures full of character to tear down. Nashville’s natural cache of history and architecture is, let’s face it, a non-renewable resource and completely exhausting that resource is not an option we can afford to contemplate. We must begin, and begin now, to consider issues of sustainability and discuss alternative demolition sources, or else there won’t be any historic buildings left for our children to demolish and replace with soulless, plastic and steel atrocities of their own.”
The meeting and subsequent press conference come hot on the heels of yesterday’s news that the Trail West Building, built in 1900, had been demolished overnight despite developers Steve Smith and Al Ross not having a formal demolition permit and the building’s presence on the National Register of Historic Places. The building had been deemed unsafe and too expensive to rehabilitate into the planned steakhouse and live music venue that Smith and Ross intend to build on the now-leveled lot. The pair of developers and real estate owners have extensive experience working with and rehabilitating aging structures downtown; they own and developed the Honky Tonk Central attraction on Broadway and Fourth Avenue, and recently added a rooftop space to their arguably most famous property, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.
Public reaction to the removal of the Trail West building has been largely negative, fueling peoples concerns in an ongoing discussion about whether or not Nashville is totally losing its identity and destroying the very character and feel that are drawing new residents in droves. “Of course they to do this waited until Ben Folds was busy promoting a new album” noted Jules Barsmith, an area resident who has fought for the preservation of several downtown structures. “They knew that if Ben was busy promoting and touring, they’d be able to slip this past him. The rest of us just weren’t fast enough to keep it from happening, and this is where it gets us.”
Meanwhile, the developers continue to express concern not over the loss of history or Nashville identity, but of dwindling opportunities to continue removing it.
“Truthfully, I’m worried about what comes next” the 40 year old Jacobsen told reporters. “Downtown, Music Row, East Nashville, the States… they’re all getting to the point where there’s nothing older than me left to tear down. We’ve been too hasty, and soon, what will we have left to demolish? If we don’t start rationing our supply of Nashville history immediately, we’ll have to start tearing down Reagan-era buildings soon, and where’s the sense in that?! But then again, what other choice will we have? I mean, it’s not like there’s just a giant hole the size of a city block on West End just waiting to be developed where we could be building something instead.”
Photo of the Trail West site found at http://wkrn.com/2015/09/21/trail-west-building-on-broadway-demolished/