Since the founding of the Nashboro settlement in the late 1780s on a small bluff above the water’s edge, the Cumberland River has been an important economic and social focal point for the City of Nashville. From that early beginning to the present day, the river continues to play an important role in the daily lives of Nashville residents and visitors.
Nashvillians chose to reclaim and re-embrace their downtown waterfront under the administration of former Mayor Richard Fulton. Construction of Riverfront Park in the 1980s was a watershed moment in the City’s commitment to riverfront redevelopment, with transformation of the west riverbank terminus of Lower Broadway into today’s epicenter of citywide celebrations and entertainment events, including the 4th of July fireworks extravaganza and the annual Country Music Association (CMA) Music Festival.
Transformation of the downtown riverfront’s east bank took a major leap forward in the mid-1990s under the administration of former Mayor, and current Governor, Phil Bredesen with reclamation and conversion of an underutilized industrial area into the new home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.
Continued downtown riverfront revitalization picked up significant momentum under the administration of former Mayor Bill Purcell as evidenced by many riverfront amenities that we see and enjoy today, including the East Bank Greenway, the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge, the Ghost Ballet art sculpture and the Public Square.
Under current Mayor Karl F. Dean’s administration, the long-term goal of reclaiming and redefining Nashville’s downtown waterfront continues with enthusiasm. In September 2008, Mayor Dean turned to MDHA to oversee and administer the waterfront redevelopment program. The Mayor’s vision is to transform Nashville’s downtown waterfront into vibrant and dynamic mixed-use centers that provide new entertainment, cultural, shopping, working, living and learning opportunities for local residents and visitors.
The Nashville Riverfront Concept Plan, jointly funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Board of Parks and Recreation, represents a community-based vision for long-term revitalization of the City’s downtown waterfronts. The Plan calls for environmental clean-up and remediation of targeted brownfield sites, the introduction of additional parks, trails and water recreation facilities along the river’s edge, and the eventual development of mixed-use urban neighborhoods on the eastern banks of the Cumberland River. The ambitious 20-year redevelopment vision of that planning document provides a framework for the potential infusion of more than $1.4 billion in new private investment capital into the local economy with the transformation of more than 190 acres of underutilized industrial land into sustainable mixed-use development complemented by new cultural and entertainment venues serving local residents and visitors from around the world.
The early phases of the Nashville Riverfront Concept Plan embody an ambitious construction program of 19 riverfront enhancement projects that would add new public parks, open space and recreational amenities in and around the general vicinity of existing Riverfront Park. The “New Riverfront Park Plan” would effectively double existing public park land along the downtown waterfront with expanded recreational boat docking facilities, music performance venues, waterfront parks, boardwalks, overlooks and piers. The historically significant Nashville Bridge Company Building (NABRICO), strategically located at the foot of the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge, would be renovated utilizing sustainable construction practices to accommodate uses that complement and contribute to the ongoing revitalization of the riverfront. Other environmental enhancement projects would include the re-establishment of wetland areas along the river’s edge and retrofitting portions of existing parking lots serving LP Field (home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans) with “permeable grass” parking surfaces and the introduction of additional shade trees to enhance game-day tailgating experiences.
On June 9, 2009, the Metropolitan Council adopted a new six-year Capital Improvement Budget that includes up to $54 million for riverfront redevelopment as recommended by Mayor Karl F. Dean. As part of that budget adoption process, the Metro Council also approved the 2009-2010 Capital Spending Plan authorizing an initial infusion of $30 million to construct the first series of waterfront park and recreation projects recommended by the “New Riverfront Park Plan.” Funded east-bank projects will include a 7.5-acre Adventure Play Park, renovation and adaptive reuse of the historic Nashville Bridge Company (NABRICO) building, and construction of a one-acre River Lawn.
Cumberland Park Construction
Construction continues on the new east bank play park, the first phase of the New Riverfront Park Plan to be implemented along the downtown waterfront. Hardaway Construction Corporation of Nashville, the general contractor, planted the first trees in late-May. Construction of Cumberland Park is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2011.
New Riverfront Park Schematic Design
Hargreaves Associates, the project architect, has completed schematic design updates to the 2007 New Riverfront Park Plan.Those plans have been filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and are currently making their way through the environmental review and permitting processes.
Phase One Renovation of the Bridge (Formerly Nashville Bridge Company) Building
The 2007 New Riverfront Plan Concept Plan recommends that the former Nashville Bridge Company Building, located immediately adjacent to the new play park, be renovated and adaptively reused in a manner that both complements and contributes to that park and the revitalization of the overall downtown riverfront. Key elements of the building renovation program include structural reinforcement and restoration of the historic building itself; modernization of its associated building systems to LEED Platinum standards; provision of public restrooms; a Metro Parks staff office and concession facilities to serve the east riverbank area; and the introduction of stairway and elevator towers to connect the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge deck directly with the riverbank below. The project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2011.
For more information on MDHA’s Waterfront Redevelopment Program, contact Josh Eames, program manager, at
email@example.com or at 615-252-8497.