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VOL. 39 | NO. 20 | Friday, May 15, 2015

Next mayor must solve traffic, education woes

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“Traffic is getting worse by the day.” I must have heard that complaint six times last week. Those exact words.

Perhaps some road construction coupled with Vanderbilt’s graduation complicated the situation, but that seems to be the feeling here.

One normally optimistic community leader says he fears the traffic woes will provide the death knell to Nashville for all of its “it”ness. It matters not how delectable the cuisine or courteous the denizens if no one can get to them.

Most in real estate feel this is the most important issue facing the city, with public education a close second. Safety, economic development, parks, greenways, the arts, the music scene, restaurants and the overall vibe are as good as noted in all of the publications that tout the city’s greatness.

But these two can kill us, and that has the real estate community worried.

Both of these issues have seemed irreparable. While all three of Nashville’s most recent mayors – Phil Bredesen, Bill Purcell and Karl Dean – have had detractors, most felt they all performed very well over a period now spanning 24 years. All are brilliant and driven and represented the city well. And to the man, education was a priority, yet we flounder.

There are many on both sides of the charter school issue, but one thing is certain: Some are delivering good results for a demographic that usually does not perform well.

At a recent gathering, Mayor Dean cited scores that revealed some charter schools were outperforming some Williamson County schools. There remains the “what happens to the rest of us?” question.

All three saw mass transit as an issue, yet locals feel “traffic is getting worse every day.” Retrofitting a mass transit system into this city, with its narrow, winding, disjoined streets, seems impossible.

The past three mayors have accomplished the unthinkable, but they have left a couple of opportunities for their successor. The next mayor must get these two right.

Sale of the Week

For years, the area north of Charlotte Pike, just across the street from Sylvan Park, was known as “The Nations,” a misnomer since the streets are named for states, not countries.

Its sister community, Sylvan Park, had seen its popularity increase in the mid-1980s and had become the neighborhood of choice for the group that would be branded cultural creatives.

While Sylvan Park was blossoming with renovations, The Nations was festering and stigmatized.

“They won’t deliver pizzas over there” was the oft-proclaimed summation of the safety issues confronting the area. Even the street names of its sister Sylvan Park were more exciting and safe, with thoroughfares such Utah conjuring Salt Lake images, Nevada and its Las Vegas, the slopes of Colorado Avenue. The community even boasts its own Park Avenue.

Meanwhile, across Charlotte the street names are more blue and industrial: Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky and Louisiana.

The Wilson Group, now affiliated with Parks, decided to rebrand The Nations as “Historic West Town,” a name that has led the charge to its redevelopment.

Its resurgence is reminiscent of Nashville’s sister city, Belfast.

In a visit there in 2007, then Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell noted: “When I was here three years ago, I witnessed a city filled with optimism. Today, I see a city overflowing with confidence.”

And so it went with The Nations. And now the builders and developers are flocking to the Nations’ borders.

Ironically, there are longtime Nations dwellers who have begun a “Bring back The Nations” movement, as they are proud of its heritage. When Steve Reigle of Benchmark Realty listed the property at 5507B in Realtracs, he designated the neighborhood as “Historic West Town/Nations.” And the house, listed for $350,000, sold in two weeks.

In an interesting twist, Reigle described the walls as being 10 feet tall.

Most Realtors and builders alike refer to the ceilings as being 10 feet tall and, to his point, Reigle is correct. The ceilings are 10 feet off of the ground, but it is the walls that are 10 feet tall.

This 2,078-square-foot structure has three bedrooms and two and one-half baths.

Half baths should be two-thirds baths since they have sinks and toilets, lacking only the bathing area. Perhaps Reigle will adopt that two-thirds bath thing next time.

In another clarification procedure, he boasted that the exterior walls are constructed of “fiber cement” rather than the term Hardy board or Hardie plank that had become synonymous with the material.

The correct spelling of Hardie is Hardie, as it is named for its creator, James Hardie, not the adjective hardy, although that is an accurate description of the product.

Professor-turned-Realtor Margot Dermody of Fridrich and Clark Realty represented the seller.

Dermody is a cutting-edge Realtor, a cultural creative herself, and has a stable of interesting clients.

Her buyer will inhabit a craftsman style with a custom shower in the full bath that has tile floors. The rest of the house has hardwood floors, and the kitchen has the stainless steel appliances that now adorn all of the granite topped counters.

Richard Courtney is a real estate broker with Christianson, Patterson, Courtney, and Associates and can be reached at Richard@richardcourtney.com

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