Dec 21, 2021 - News

Nashville's "year of roller-coaster feelings"

Workers survey the bombing recovery of Nashville's second avenue in June 2021.
Workers survey the bombing recovery in June 2021. Mark Humphrey/AP

Volunteers sifted through charred rubble in October to save bits of wreckage left behind from the Christmas Day bombing that decimated a swath of Second Avenue.

  • Their work salvaged more than 2,000 bricks that will be used to restore the historic buildings at the heart of the city.

Why it matters: That painstaking effort — which included support from local preservation nonprofits The District and the Metro Historical Commission Foundation — is emblematic of the collaboration that defined the first year of the recovery, Metro Historic Commission executive director Tim Walker tells Axios.

What they're saying: Betsy Williams, a Second Avenue building owner who narrowly escaped the blast, has confronted waves of sadness, anger, gratitude and frustration while facing the early phases of recovery.

  • "It's been a year of rollercoaster feelings."

But she praised a united front of support from the city and the mayor's office.

  • "We all have to work together in order to see what we want to see come out of that street," Williams tells Axios. "It's an important area for Nashville."

The latest: The Callen family, which owns the four most-badly damaged buildings, initially believed a complete demolition would be necessary.

  • Working with the city, the family is now pursuing instead a plan to demolish portions of the buildings while rebuilding with the recovered materials.
  • The city hopes to ultimately improve Second Avenue and tie it to a newly revitalized riverfront.

The big picture: In addition to the salvaging effort, Walker tells Axios he's encouraged by property owners pursuing the use of a new tax incentive, created by Metro Council earlier this year, to provide tax abatements to help cover the cost of renovating historic buildings.

  • Walker says as many as four buildings damaged by the blast could use the incentive, which was pushed by Metro Councilmember Jeff Syracuse. The initial round of applications is on track to be considered in mid-2022.
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