One year after bombing, Downtown Nashville focuses rebuild on residents

Civic leaders say Second Avenue needs to put Nashvillians first

Second Avenue in Downtown Nashville after the bombing on Christmas Day, 2020. (Getty)
Second Avenue in Downtown Nashville after the bombing on Christmas Day, 2020. (Getty)

A little more than a year after the bombing of a stretch of Second Avenue in Downtown Nashville by a man tangled up in conspiracy theories, the leadership there is hoping to transform the area into a G-rated paradise.

The New York Times is reporting civic leaders there hope to counter the area’s boisterous districts — which can be as loud and crowded as Manhattan’s Times Square — with a walkable gateway to the nearby Cumberland River featuring shade trees, oversized sidewalks and plenty of places to shop, eat and live.

“Something that is more family-friendly, more Nashvillian friendly,” Ron Gobbell, who is the manager of the revitalization effort, told the publication.

Part of that goal is to ensure the area isn’t just for tourists, and it becomes more of an Elm Street rather than a Bourbon Street.

Nearby, there are already plans for a mixed-use development for software giant Oracle, which is setting up shop in the town. Called River North, it will take up 65 acres on the Cumberland River will be turned into a new, mixed-use neighborhood just north of the Downtown area on the other side of the river.

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Nashville, now Tennessee’s largest city, has already experienced a Dowtown transformation comparable to that of New York’s Crossroads of the World — with its pool halls and sex shops being replaced by star-owned bars, restaurants and luxury hotels.

That’s led to a boom in tourism. In 1998, just two million tourists visited the area. That number jumped to 15 million just before the pandemic struck.

With that in mind, Mayor John Cooper told the newspaper he wants to “seize the moment” and ensure reconstruction benefits city residents, and not just out-of-towners.

He noted that affordable housing in the area has been a top priority, and that millions of dollars have been set aside to improve such developments in the city’s core.

[New York Times] — Vince DiMiceli

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