Land Swap With State Could Mean End of Metro's Ben West Building - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Land Swap With State Could Mean End of Metro's Ben West Building

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by Chris Cannon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Ben West Building once housed the Nashville Library, but if a land swap is approved with the State of Tennessee, the building will be demolished.

The building on the corner of Polk Avenue and Union Street was built 47 years ago and most recently served as the temporary home for Metro City Hall back in 2006.

The Ben West has sat empty for more than six years.

"It's really off the Metro campus, there's really no other Metro facilities around it," said Metro finance director Rich Riebeling, "We've had various departments look at it, but the cost to renovate that building is pretty high."

Representatives from the State of Tennessee approached city leaders about acquiring the property and the idea to exchange properties came about.

"Essentially we're going to take properties of equal value. give the state some property they want, that the city really doesn't need and they're going to give us property," according to Riebeling.

Metro would acquire a portion of the property at the former Tennessee Preparatory School campus on Foster Avenue.

The Nashville School of the Arts campus is located on that property. Metro currently pays the state $400,000 a year to lease that facility.

"And I think schools likes it, because they've been reluctant to put any money into the School for the Arts because they've had a year to year lease and now they'll have a permanent home for that," Riebeling said.

Metro would also acquire the building know as the "Old High School" on the TPS property. The city would in turn lease that property to charter school STEM Preparatory Academy.

The charter school is currently located on Nolensville Pike.

"The faculty and staff have done such a great job," said Metro Council Member Sandra Moore, "They're growing and they need a lot more space, so this will be an ideal opportunity."

Both properties are worth approximately $7 million, but Metro will also have to demolish the Ben West Building as part of the deal.

"That's part of the arrangement to get to like values is that Metro will tear the building down and make it a surface parking lot, which the state can use for its needs now, and long-term I can see it potentially building something there," Riebeling said.

Metro Council members would have to approve the land swamp before anything could happen at the two properties.

Email: ccannon@newschannel5.com
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