Sep 22, 2021 - Economy & Business

Scoop: Plans shared to rebuild Nashville Christmas bombing site

Police officers survey damage of buildings on historic Second Avenue in Nashville.
Police officers survey damage on historic Second Avenue in Nashville following a bombing on Dec. 25, 2020. Photo: Alex Kent / Getty Images

Owners of the Second Avenue buildings blown apart by the 2020 Christmas Day bombing in Nashville are sharing a new vision for their properties that would recreate the original vibe of the area using bricks and iron salvaged from the debris.

Why it matters: Preservationists and city leaders have publicly feared the bombed-out brick buildings would be replaced with a parking lot or bland glass structures that don't match the rest of Second Avenue.

  • In a letter to the Metro Historic Zoning Commission, the Callen family, which owns four buildings on Second Avenue, pledged to rebuild a structure that honors the legacy of Nashville's first-ever historic district.
  • The family will unveil detailed plans, including renderings, at a Planning Commission meeting this afternoon.

Context: The future of Second Avenue has been the subject of intense concern and debate since a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in an RV that obliterated the block.

  • The Callen family initially sought a demolition permit, but withdrew that request after pushback from the Historic Commission, which must sign off on it since the buildings are located inside the historic district.
  • Working with downtown preservation nonprofit The District and the Historic Commission Foundation, the property owners were able to save bricks, cast-iron columns, stone lintels, window hoods, building cornices, and other materials.
  • As a compromise, the property owners are requesting a "selective demolition permit" so that badly damaged portions of the buildings can be rebuilt "safe and strong," according to the letter.

What they’re saying: Andre Callen and Heather Coleman, the family's representatives, wrote in the letter that, "We now want to move forward with a new vision for the site that will honor its history, creating something that seamlessly blends in with this iconic row of historic buildings and feels as though it has always been part of the fabric."

  • "We want to create a structure that will contribute to the success of this neighborhood far into the future."

State of play: In order to rebuild, the family will need special zoning approval from the Planning Commission.

  • The property owners also plan to pursue the historic zoning commission's property tax abatement program.
  • "We will explore the possibility of working with the MHZC to reconstruct the Second Avenue facades to match their original construction if it is determined to be financially feasible and practical," the family said.
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