Nov 1, 2023 - News

Creative campus plan pitched for Shelby Park naval building

An aerial of a refurbished building on the Nashville riverfront.

A rendering showing the plans for a refurbished Shelby Commons. Image: Courtesy of Friends of Shelby Park

A creative partnership between two prominent nonprofits seeks to transform the long-vacant U.S. Naval Reserve Training Center building in East Nashville into a creative campus.

Driving the news: Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms and the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville are working together on the project, which is called Shelby Commons.

  • Mayor Freddie O'Connell will discuss the collaboration at an event Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Shelby Commons represents a win for the city's preservationist community. It also brings badly needed creative space and adds another community asset on the rapidly developing East Bank of the Cumberland River.

Details: Metro committed $2.5 million toward the project as part of then-Mayor John Cooper's capital spending plan in January. The total budget is $10 million, with the two nonprofit partners embarking on a fundraising campaign to help pay for the rest.

Amenities: The renovated naval reserve building will feature park amenities, including:

🍽️ A new restaurant and market;

🚻 Public restrooms;

🛍️ Recreation-focused retail;

🛶 And affordable kayak and bike rentals. (Recreational use of the river has been increasing recently.)

Space: The project also calls for a new event venue, coworking space for arts nonprofits, an artist studio and additional creative space for artists of all disciplines.

  • The quirky old building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, will serve as administrative space for the Friends of Shelby and Arts & Business Council teams.

What they're saying: "Access to affordable and dynamic space where artists can develop and present their work has long been identified as a top priority by Nashville's artistic community, and is imperative in fostering the world class creative environment our city is known for," Arts & Business Council executive director Jill McMillan Palm said in a statement.

What's next: Metro Council and the parks board will need to approve the project.

  • Stakeholders also want input from the public. Metro Councilmember Clay Capp will host a community meeting about the plan at 9am on Dec. 9 at the Shelby Bottoms Nature Center.
  • You can register for the meeting and learn more about the project at the Shelby Commons website.

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