Planning Commission Backs Nashville MLS Stadium Mixed-Use Development

Nashville MLS stadium rendering

A proposed mixed-use development adjacent to a planned Nashville MLS stadium cleared a hurdle Wednesday, when the planning commission recommended rezoning for the project. 

The push is on to finalize agreements for the Nashville MLS stadium, which is proposed for a site at The Fairgrounds Nashville and will house an MLS expansion team that was awarded in December of last year. As part of the project, the team’s ownership is seeking to construct a mixed-use development on a 10-acre site adjacent to the stadium.

Rezoning will be required to accommodate the development. The Nashville Metro Council will ultimately have to weigh in on the issue, but the rezoning received the recommendation of the Nashville Metro Planning Commission on Wednesday. After hearing plenty of public testimony both for and against the proposal, the planning commission took two unanimous 6-0 votes relating to the development, including recommendation of a new Specific Plan. This is a boost to the mixed-use development aspect of the proposal as it heads toward Metro Council consideration. More from the Tennessean:

The new Specific Plan would allow up to 900 units of housing, buildings that are five stories tall and 350,000 square feet of retail, office and other non-residential uses. The 30,500-seat stadium would be built on the highest elevation of the fairgrounds, the west side of the property.

In addition, the plan calls for a reworked road network in and around the 117-acre fairgrounds property, including a Wedgewood Avenue extension from Rains Avenue to intersect with Craighead Street. Benton and Rains avenues would also be extended the site of the future private development.

Separately, the commission voted to recommend that the council amend the South Nashville Community Plan from an open space category to a community center category.

Although neither vote is binding, the project cleared a key hurdle because it allows the rezoning ordinance to pass with a simple majority when it goes to the council. Had the commission voted against the rezoning, it would have needed 27 votes.

The mixed-use development has been a controversial component of the Nashville MLS stadium project, with some questioning whether the ownership group should be able to profit from leasing public land. The club, however, has countered that the development will provide a better gameday experience.

Last November, the Metro Council approved $225 million in bonding for a new MLS stadium at The Fairgrounds Nashville. That was a major accomplishment for the Nashville MLS expansion bid, led by John Ingram, and ultimately played a part in the league’s approval of Nashville’s pitch in December. However, the issuing of those bonds is contingent upon the completion of several stadium-related agreements that still need to be finalized. Nashville mayor David Briley’s administration is filing four pieces of legislation with the council–including the lease for the development, the demolition of existing buildings on the stadium site along with the implementation of a $1.75 ticket tax, rezoning, and $50 million in general obligation bonds for related expenses such as infrastructure improvements and new fairgrounds buildings. The administration is working to have final approval of those proposals by September 4.

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