The Music City MIRACLE: GROWTH AND REDEVELOPMENT OF NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: Nashville Has Been Known as Music City and the Country Music Capital of the World for Decades. A More Recent Designation Has Nashville Ranked among the Top 25 Most Populous Cities in the USA, with a Population Increase of More Than 10 Percent since 2010. (1) with Rapid Growth, Infill Is Occurring at a Swift Pace, and Infill Happens on Brownfields

By Middlebrooks, Paula | Public Management, December 2019 | Go to article overview

The Music City MIRACLE: GROWTH AND REDEVELOPMENT OF NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: Nashville Has Been Known as Music City and the Country Music Capital of the World for Decades. A More Recent Designation Has Nashville Ranked among the Top 25 Most Populous Cities in the USA, with a Population Increase of More Than 10 Percent since 2010. (1) with Rapid Growth, Infill Is Occurring at a Swift Pace, and Infill Happens on Brownfields


Middlebrooks, Paula, Public Management


Increasingly, brownfields redevelopment has become an important part of economic development and community revitalization strategies across the country. Brownfields are properties which may contain real or perceived environmental contamination that hinder their redevelopment or re-use. Many brownfields are under-utilized or abandoned facilities with a history of manufacturing. Other common types of brownfields include old mills and factories, junkyards, former dry cleaners, railyards, mine-scarred lands, and abandoned gas stations.

Brownfields exist in towns of all sizes. While not all municipalities and rural areas have experienced the growth that Nashville has, the potential for brownfields redevelopment is nonetheless abundant everywhere. These idle properties can be a burden on neighbors and threaten public health, local economies, and communities. The cleanup and re-use of these properties can have significant social and community benefits, in addition to economic and environmental benefits, as illustrated by the following case studies.

Case Study: From Bridges to Climbing Walls

Located along the east bank of the Cumberland River, adjacent to downtown Nashville, the Nashville Bridge Company was originally founded as a bridge builder in the 1890s. In 1915, the company converted to shipbuilding, and by the 1960s, it was said to be the world's largest builder of inland barges. The facility closed in 1996, when it was decided a new stadium tor the Tennessee Titans would be built on a portion of the property. However, the closure left the riverfront portion of the property sitting vacant.

Under the New Riverfront Park Plan, it was determined that new public parks, open space, and recreational amenities would be added along the downtown riverfront. (2) In 2008, due to the historical uses of the property, environmental site assessments were conducted utilizing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4 Targeted Brownfields Assessment assistance. Additional assessment and technical oversight by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Remediation (TDEC-DoR) were completed using EPA 128(a) brownfields funds. The assessments identified several areas impacted by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), lead, and arsenic that required cleanup. The TDEC-DoR and the Metro Parks and Recreation Department worked cooperatively to develop and implement plans that incorporated a combination of soil removals, engineered caps, and institutional controls to address environmental concerns and provide for safe reuse of the property.

Today, the Cumberland Play Park is an innovative play space for children and families located on the east bank of the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville. It is a portion of an overall revitalization project on approximately three miles of land on both the east and west bank of the river. The park includes local stone climbing wall, sand play areas, garden mazes, outdoor seating, meandering paths, and other interactive play areas.

Adaptive reuse, water harvesting for irrigation, and improved biodiversity were also included in this brownfield redevelopment project. Each year, one million gallons of stormwater are captured and reused for irrigation. Over 1.6 acres of meadow and riparian grasses were restored. There is also an outdoor amphitheater that can accommodate 1,200 people. The historic Bridge Building, originally built in 1908 for the Nashville Bridge Company, has been restored and is now home to a MetroParks office and event space, and has earned the highest rating for sustainable buildings (LEED-Platinum) by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Case Study: From Landfill to Solar Power

A 37-acre tract of land, located approximately seven miles northeast of downtown Nashville, was formerly known as the Due West Landfill. After serving as a municipal landfill from approximately 1958 to 1973, and covered with rock excavated from the construction of Interstate 65, the land sat vacant. …

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The Music City MIRACLE: GROWTH AND REDEVELOPMENT OF NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: Nashville Has Been Known as Music City and the Country Music Capital of the World for Decades. A More Recent Designation Has Nashville Ranked among the Top 25 Most Populous Cities in the USA, with a Population Increase of More Than 10 Percent since 2010. (1) with Rapid Growth, Infill Is Occurring at a Swift Pace, and Infill Happens on Brownfields
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