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Can Nashville’s Music Row Be Saved from Demolition?

Once home to dozens of studios and music industry businesses, Nashville’s Music Row put the city on the map—and is now in danger of being wiped off the earth.

Washington, DC (June 3, 2019)—The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Nashville’s Music Row to its 2019 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

The annual list spotlights what the organization considers to be important examples of the nation’s architectural and cultural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. Over 300 places have been listed in the 32-year history of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In that time, fewer than five percent of listed sites have been lost.

In a written statement accompanying the list, the organization observes that despite Music Row’s critical role in the identity, economy and culture of the city, and Nashville’s international reputation as Music City for more than 60 years, vital pieces of its historic fabric are being lost to growing pressure from Nashville’s rapid pace of development. That trend is most famously — but certainly not only — evidenced by the narrowly avoided demolition of RCA Studio A.

Nashville’s Music Row Named A National Treasure

Studies and surveys by the National Trust and Metro Nashville’s Planning Department have repeatedly affirmed the community’s strong desire to preserve the historic character of Music Row. Yet demolition activity has continued unabated, the statement continues. Since 2013, there have been 50 demolitions on Music Row. Many of these have pushed out small, independently owned music businesses within low-rise historic buildings to make room for new high-rise luxury apartments and offices that have no provisions or set-asides to serve the music industry. Most of these demolitions — 64 percent — were for new development permitted by Specific Plan (SP) re-zonings.

The Metro Planning Department recently released its draft Music Row Vision Plan and is accepting public comment on the plan until June 3. Metro Nashville will hold elections August 1 for mayor and members of Metro Council, making this a critical opportunity for citizens and fans of Music Row nationwide to voice their support for ensuring the community and character that makes Music Row a one-of-a-kind cultural district endures for generations, says the statement.

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The National Trust and its partner Historic Nashville, Inc. are urging the public to join them in asking the Metro Planning Department and Metro Nashville’s elected officials to make key changes to the draft Music Row Vision Plan and to enact the creation of new preservation tools including:

· Discontinue Specific Plan exemptions that ultimately encourage demolitions;

· Eliminate recommendations for increased building height allowances anywhere in the Music Row area;

· Designate Music Row as a Cultural Industry District in recognition of its unique role in Nashville’s economy and its worldwide significance

· Provide support to create a non-profit entity to promote and preserve Music Row that would manage a revolving fund to preserve significant properties for use by music businesses; provide financial options (such as low or no-interest loans) to music businesses for expansion, rehabilitation, retention, and innovation, and promote Music Row to attract new music businesses.

National Trust for Historic Preservation •