Metro Council Passes Hickory Hollow Plans On 1st Reading
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The first reading of a bill that would start the process of approving three leases for space at Hickory Hollow Mall turned into a two hour public hearing and debate in Metro Council Tuesday night.
There was talk about not passing the bill on first reading, but ultimately, the bill was passed 32 to 7.
The bill got an impromptu public hearing with 37 speakers that lasted for an hour and a half, with council debating the issue after that.
"We're not in the business of bailing people out. We're not Washington, D.C.," an audience member told council.
The council voted on the plan that will spend millions of tax dollars to redevelop part of the Hickory Hollow Mall. The city would move a public library, recreation center, health clinic and an expo hall into places where stores have moved out.
The debate touched on many topics, from closing the flea market and raceway to the need for a community center in that part of the county, to council protocol - the discussion was all over the place in an unprecedented metro council meeting.
Bill number BL2010-793 dealt specifically with three lease agreements for space in Hickory Hollow Mall to house proposed Metro operations.
"I've spent 30 years in real estate. When I showed these leases to people in commercial real estate, they laugh," according to Councilman Michael Craddock.
Many members of council had issues with the bill, but said they would vote for it on first reading so the process of dealing with those issues can be worked on as it makes it way through second and third reading.
Bill number BL2010-770 that would have forced Metro to keep the fairgrounds open came up for its second reading Tuesday night. The bill's sponsor deferred it indefinitely until issues with the bill could be worked out.
Earlier in the day, a group called "Concerned Citizens of Antioch" rallied in the Nashville Public square to protest the city's plan.
Protestors said moving the fairgrounds would take years of tradition and history away. Folks were getting drivers to honk in support of their stance against the fairgrounds moving.
Opponents call the plan a waste of taxpayer money and say it's just an attempt to bail out the developers of the Hickory Hollow Mall.
"The Mayor is abusing the taxpayer by striking this deal," said Metro Council member Michael Craddock.
On the other hand, The Hickory Hollow Action Partnership, made up of homeowners and merchants who are around the mall, also rallied and said the mayor's plan is a great idea.
Mayor Dean and other supporters believe the mall is vital to the Antioch area and adding public facilities to the neighborhood would help Hickory Hollow and its neighbors.
"I think by investing in this mall, bringing in city organizations and government activity, it's going to be a big shot in the arm to the area," said Dean. "This is a good deal for the city."
The bill will go through many revisions before it ever goes for another reading.