Music Row should be designated a “cultural industry district” by Metro government according to an ambitious new proposal from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the local Music Industry Coalition.
The designation would pave the way for Music Row neighbors to band together to create a nonprofit organization, Music Row Investment Trust, which could then pursue preservation tools including low-interest loans to purchase and rehabilitate historic buildings.
A neighborhood in Tennessee has never been designated a cultural industry district before.
The National Trust and the Music Industry Coalition, which was created in the wake of the near destruction of historic RCA Studio A, will release their recommendations along with an 85-page supporting report on Monday.
The goal is to keep Music Row a vibrant neighborhood where music business is conducted and records are made. Music Row has already been named a national treasure by the National Trust.
Two years ago, Studio A was nearly demolished in favor of condos before preservation-minded philanthropists stepped in to save the building. And developers have been circling Music Row for years, until the Metro Planning Department took a timeout on zoning for new developments in 2015.
“We believe designation of the Music Row cultural industry district is essential to build new programs and policies that honor Music Row’s historical legacy, recognize the music industry’s impact on Nashville’s economy and help to plan for its future,” said David Brown, chief preservation officer and executive vice president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Last year, the National Trust partnered to release a report that detailed the historic value of Music Row. That report found 200 active music businesses and 66 properties worthy of preservation.
Preservationists have already moved forward on adding the House of David recording studio and publishing house to the National Register of Historic Places, a precursor to potentially protecting more historic buildings on Music Row.
MIC and the National Trust have already unveiled their recommendations to Metro officials, including the Planning Department and Metro Councilmen Freddie O’Connell and Colby Sledge, whose districts encompass the corridor.
In prepared remarks to The Tennessean, Planning Department executive director Doug Sloan called the new recommendations and report “a vital step in planning an appropriate future for Nashville’s most iconic neighborhood.”
O’Connell was also complimentary of the recommendations in prepared remarks.
Earlier this year, the Planning Department released its own initial zoning and land use recommendations, including height and density requirements for buildings on Music Row.
Land use on Music Row has always been complicated because, although some of the buildings are steeped in music history, the properties would fetch more money on the open market as condos or other mixed-use developments.
“Last year's decision by the (Metro) Planning Commission to pause rezoning in Music Row gave us a citywide moment to consider our own identity,” O’Connell said. “We have taken full advantage of that moment to capture the stories that make us Music City while developing the policies that I hope help Nashville remain Music City for a long time to come through simultaneous preservation and enhancement of Music Row.”
The new report, authored by National Trust senior field officer Carolyn Brackett and economic strategist Randall Gross, also spelled out incentives and other economic enticement tools that Metro and the state could pursue to help keep music businesses thriving on Music Row. Those suggestions included job tax credits, sales tax exemptions and parking and infrastructure incentives.
The recommendations included developing a more comprehensive tourism strategy to bring visitors to Music Row's famous recording studios and record label offices. Work on that front is ongoing with tourism leaders and other stakeholders.
“The intent behind putting forth these recommendations is to help give neighborhood property owners and other stakeholders who care about the future of Music Row some additional tools that could protect the value of their investments, while ensuring that Nashville’s unique creative culture continues to thrive and grow,” said MIC president Mike Kopp, who is pop rocker Ben Folds’ co-manager.
Rau, Nate. "Sweeping New Protections Urged for Nashville's Music Row." The Tennessean. May 15, 2016. Accessed May 16, 2016. http://www.tennessean.com/story/money/industries/music/2016/05/15/sweeping-new-protections-urged-nashvilles-music-row/84378046/.