Apr 18, 2024 - News

East Bank could be "template" for future Metro developments

A rendering showing proposed green space on the east bank.

A rendering shows plans for the East Bank. Image: Courtesy of Metro Planning

With the East Bank development agreement official, Mayor Freddie O'Connell and The Fallon Company took a victory lap Wednesday, touting the creation of a new urban neighborhood.

Why it matters: The East Bank plan calls for hotels, retail space, affordable housing, a day care center and new streets lined with bike lanes, sidewalks and a transportation hub.

The intrigue: Fallon executives kept a low profile, mostly avoiding media interviews, while Metro Council considered legislation for the development deal.

Zoom out: Fallon CEO Michael Fallon tells Axios the Boston-based company is picky about the markets it enters.

  • "We like to make really big bets," Fallon says. "We're really selective. We like larger scale mixed-use projects that are longer term and require vision and require a lot of stakeholder relations and patience."
  • The East Bank project also closely mirrored the Fan Pier waterfront redevelopment project in Boston, which Fallon has been working on for about 20 years.

Zoom in: Large economic development deals in Nashville have typically come hand-in-hand with political rancor and resistance from the city's progressive wing. (Think about Geodis Park, the Oracle headquarters at River North and the new Titans stadium.)

Yes, but: The East Bank agreement sailed through council in part because the plan included many of the elements progressives sought with earlier development projects.

  • Fallon signed a memorandum of understanding with the Laborers' International Union of North America Local 386. Of the 1,550 housing units, 695 will be affordable. The deal also calls for a day care center, public green space and a ban on short-term rentals.

The bottom line: Metro Council's unanimous approval of the deal gives an early legislative victory to the new O'Connell administration.

  • O'Connell tells Axios he learned on the campaign trail and during the debate around the Titans stadium "people were feeling like our overall public investment strategy was not meeting the needs of the community."

The big picture: O'Connell said the East Bank deal offers "a template to do the same kind of work across the city."

  • "There are a lot of things we can take from this deal and make sure communities across Nashville really do start to realize these benefits," he says.
  • A similar model could be applied to the old Hickory Hollow mall, which figures to be the administration's next priority.

Inside the room: Metro Councilmember Zulfat Suara tells Axios the East Bank agreement was more collaborative compared with earlier development deals.

  • "In the past, we didn't get a contract to look at until the deal was done. But in this case, the community was involved and the council was involved. I met with [chief development officer] Bob Mendes and with Fallon several times," Suara says.
  • The deal reflected the priorities raised in those conversations with council members and residents, she says. Suara says she appreciated that the deal focused on housing and that Fallon worked with the labor union.

What's next: The first buildings to be constructed will be a hotel near the new football stadium and a residential tower, which will have approximately 300 affordable units.

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