October 28, 2021
It's Thursday! Have you shared your recommendations yet for next week's Axios Nashville playlist?
☔ Today's weather: We're heading into a few days of rain. The high is about 65.
Situational awareness: State Sen. Brian Kelsey, who is facing a federal indictment, announced he would temporarily step down as chair of the Senate Education Committee.
Today's newsletter is 959 words — a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: The future of juvenile justice
After years of pleading, Nashville's juvenile justice complex is on the cusp of an upgrade.
- Mayor John Cooper included $30 million for a new complex in his newest capital spending plan.
Why it matters: The juvenile justice center on Woodland Street opened in the 1990s and has run out of space to meet basic needs. The infrastructure has been in dire shape for years.
- "We have literally made courtrooms from closets," Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway tells Axios.
- Raw sewage sometimes flooded hallways and courtrooms, Calloway told council members in January.
Flashback: The complex, which includes a connected courthouse and detention center, has been on the city's shortlist for major investments. Funding pushes stalled in 2015 and 2017, according to The Tennessean.
- A 2019 escape exposed flaws in the building design and management that allowed four teenage detainees to enter the unsecured courthouse after-hours and run out the front door.
The latest: Cooper's plan includes funding to buy land for a new 14-acre campus off Brick Church Pike.
- "That has been years in the making," Cooper tells Axios. "I feel a little bit guilty I'm the person who gets to announce it."
What's next: It will take about three years to finish the new campus, according to Calloway.
- The initial wave of funding covers land acquisition and early architectural and engineering work. Metro General Services is determining the total cost, but Cooper says the long-term benefits make the price tag worth it.
What they're saying: "All of the things that we need, this will be the difference," Calloway says. "This is going to be a game-changer on everything we do."
- Calloway says more space will allow for a 24-hour assessment center to get help for runaways and other delinquent youth who legally cannot be held in lock-up.
- Officials currently have to send them home to wait hours or days for support.
- The added space would also improve security around the detention center and make room for delinquent youths to be separated during intake from juveniles accused of serious crimes. The two groups currently have to share the same area.
2. $2.5 billion riverfront development
Ewing Properties unveiled plans for a $2.5 billion mixed-use development on the north bend of the Cumberland River off West Trinity Lane.
- It's the latest iteration of a project eight years in the making, but this time the plans are being rolled out with the crucial support of Metro Council member Kyonzte Toombs.
Why it matters: The development, called the Riverside, represents a massive investment in northwest Davidson County.
- Plans call for three distinct public parks totaling 25 acres, plus 5 million square feet of residential, commercial and retail spaces, the developers announced in a press release.
What's happening: Ewing Properties, led by CEO B. Edward Ewing, has pursued the project for several years. After previous stops and starts, including the unveiling in 2017 of development plans featuring bridges, Ewing this time worked behind the scenes to garner community support.
- There aren't plans for a bridge as part of the initial version of the project.
- "We are planning the Riverside to be a new, waterfront gateway North of the river — a place that welcomes all residents and visitors to embrace local culture and celebrate the riverfront lifestyle of Nashville's future," Ewing said in a press release.
What she's saying: Toombs singled out the community benefits of the Riverside, which is situated on a hilltop overlooking the river with a panoramic view of the Music City skyline.
- "I've reiterated my vision to not only create a diversity of housing options but to create enough rooftops to attract the amenities that the community wants — retail, dining, and entertainment," Toombs said in the release. "The Ewing project presents an opportunity for that vision to come to fruition by bringing the amenities that residents have been requesting for years."
3. Titans creep up power rankings
The Titans moved up only one spot, to ninth overall, in the latest Axios Sports NFL Power Rankings.
The latest: After narrowly beating the Bills, the top-ranked AFC team in the Axios rankings, the Titans dismantled the defending AFC champion Chiefs last Sunday.
- Despite being undervalued in the rankings, the Titans are tied for the best record in the AFC after seven weeks.
What's next: Sportsbooks predict another nail-biter Sunday for the Titans, who on DraftKings are one-point underdogs on the road against AFC South rival Colts.
4. The Setlist
Ryman Hospitality purchased a city block in Austin, Texas headlined by the famous "Austin City Limits" music venue. (Austin American-Statesman)
The Tennessee Department of Correction depleted its overtime budget less than five months into the fiscal year. (The Tennessean)
Native American activists want archaeologists to search the Oracle site before construction moves forward. (WPLN)
5. Protecting our trees
Mayor Cooper on Wednesday announced legislation that would create a dedicated fund to preserve trees.
Why it matters: Cooper's bill seeks to protect a robust tree canopy amid a parade of construction reshaping the city.
- The legislation would pull 1% of revenue from development-related items such as building permits to support tree maintenance and restoration.
- The fund would have an annual cap of $2.5 million and would be reviewed by June 2023 to determine if it should continue.
Driving the news: Cooper's announcement cited a report saying Nashville lost nearly 1,000 acres of tree canopy from 2008 to 2016, largely due to development.
6. 🎄 Christmastime is near
Speaking of trees, the parks department is looking for a 30-to-40-foot-tall Norway spruce for the city's Christmas celebration.
The winning Christmas tree will stand in Public Square Park, covered by thousands of LED lights.
- If you are willing to donate a tree that happens to fit the bill, you can reach Metro Parks' horticulturist Randall Lantz at 615-862-8400 or [email protected].
Workers will cut it down, grind the stump and plant a replacement.
🎹 Nate is proud of his 7-year-old son for starting piano lessons on Wednesday. Combined with his other son learning the trumpet, Nate is inching closer to his lifelong dream: a family ska band.
🍔 Adam is embarking on an epic quest to secure a limited-edition prime rib burger at The Continental. Stay tuned.