Could development threaten Arcade's historic status?

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Posted at 5:41 PM, Feb 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-14 06:36:00-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Development is coming to the downtown Nashville Arcade, but could it diminish the site's historical nature?

While business owners lament the loss of their leases in the building, new renderings show a bright, updated structure inside and out of the Arcade.

The renderings show promise in a beloved piece of downtown that's seen fewer people and empty storefronts in recent years.

But for Historic Nashville, it doesn't give a clear picture of the arcade's future role in the city.

"The plans that I'm seeing could be anything, to be honest," said Brian Mansfield, president of Historic Nashville. "All I have seen thus far are the renderings that have been out there for several weeks and it's hard to tell exactly what the plans are."

In 1973, the arcade was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A title it's held through nearly five decades.

Mansfield said, depending on the nature of renovations, the building could lose that designation.

"What that basically means, it is considered a place worthy of preservation. It's a common misconception that it provides some protection. It really does not," he said.

With a large number of business owners told their leases won't be removed, some fear what's next for the arcade.

Robert Lowe, property manager for the building, said he understands its historical significance.

However, Mansfield said he isn't sure which way the development may go.

"There are ways to restore the Arcade that would enhance that. There are also ways to restore the Arcade that would cause it to be delisted from the National Register," he said.

Losing the National Register of Historic Places designation doesn't bring any penalties, according to Mansfield. He just feels it would be disappointing to the people of Nashville and confirm some fear that modern development has control over the city.

"You want to do something that brings it back to the height of its popularity. You also want something that keeps it popular for what it is rather than turning it into something completely different," he said.