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VOL. 38 | NO. 11 | Friday, March 14, 2014

Sidco, Radnor Yards area has rich WWII history

By Tim Ghianni

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Longtime Nashville real estate broker Ray Tarkington – “I’m in my 70s,” he allows – is one lifelong Nashvillian who is fascinated by the transformation potential of Sidco Drive.

He has financial stake in it, as his property interests down there include, for example, the old Fur Vault that is becoming the new hangout of Nashville Pickers.

And, besides that, he has his “side business” – Mister T’s Patio – down the road a bit heading toward Harding Place. It’s among the most visible of landmarks from Interstate 65 for anyone driving toward the city.

Tarkington

“I’m in the real estate and patio business, too,” says Tarkington, whose Tarkington-Harwell LLC office is at 1705 Division Street, “right below the roundabout on Division.”

“We manage some properties down there that I have been familiar with,” he says, when the subject of the Sidco Drive resurgence is brought up.

His financial interest is almost matched by his historical affection for the area.

“I guess you know the history. It’s real interesting. It rolled out of World War II, where it used to be the center where all the soldiers and everything came in for their training. And the classification center.”

All of the land from Thompson Lane to the railroad tunnel beneath Sidco was used for this Army facility, according to the real estate broker and patio furniture mogul.

“They’d sent all the troops in by train and put them in the classification center. They would then be sent to the European conflict, over there.

“I understood that for a time they kept some prisoners (of war) down there.”

Instead of sprawling manufacturing plants and the like, the landscape was crowned by Quonset huts filled with soldiers and military offices. He figures the only real remnant of that land and its well-armed original use is the National Guard complex.

“When World War II was over, the city got involved in there … and they turned that over into an industrial area.”

Tarkington knows the Sidco Drive industrial park has seen better days. But, as for the best, well that’s to come.

“I see some development possibilities. It’s a strong, viable retail real estate area and kind of a distribution-type area. It is moving away from what you would consider manufacturing, though I still see some manufacturers there.”

Like the businesspeople interviewed for the accompanying story, he attributes the beginning of the resurgence to the construction of the Armory Drive exit from Interstate 65. The lack of that interchange doomed the old 100 Oaks Mall, but is playing well toward the Sidco rebirth.

“We are seeing kind of resurgence because of the new Vanderbilt Medical Center down there, and we are seeing some of the used-to-be industrial warehouses moving more to being retail-type outlets.

“We’ve seen property values escalate in there.”

He sees parallels to what is happening all over his hometown.

“Pockets in Nashville are becoming revitalized. That’s the positive thing about Nashville is that some of the old sections, in other cities, they just let them decay and keep decaying.”

Here, those sections, like this former military site where GIs were prepared to kill Hitler, are reclaimed from that fate.

“It’s a right exciting city from a standpoint of what’s happening here.”

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0