House Fire Victim Faces Property Predicament

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - An East Nashville musician has faced some pushback from the city of Nashville after an electrical fire significantly damaged it last June.

Todd "Toddzilla" Austin lost his home, a 1964 Corvette convertible and seven cats after the fire at 1621 Forrest Avenue in the Lockeland Springs-East End neighborhood.

After consulting with his contractor and insurance company, he hoped to build a replica of his home from its foundation but the nearly 100-year-old home is an historical overlay.

The Metropolitan Historic Zoning Commission (MHZC) staff recommended Austin salvage nearly one-third of his home and then rebuild

Austin claimed saving part of his home will cost him an extra $100,000 rather than reconstruct the entire home he's lived in for 22 years.

"I don't think the historic overlay was intended to push out a long time resident who suffered a tragedy. It's to preserve the character of the neighborhood and the people who live here are part of that character too," he said.

MHZC staff disapproved Austin's application to fully demolition his house but issued a permit to demolish the rear of the home where the fire damage was evident in September. 

"The problem is if I can’t do it the way they want I’m probably going to be forced to sell my property the way it is and walk away from my home for over 20 years," he said.

Todd said he understood the legal issues but believed there is a moral issue as well claiming no one in Nashville would mourn the loss more than him and he earned the right to rebuild in a way he can afford.

An online petition to allow Austin to build his home the way he would like has received more than 8,500 signatures.

Austin plans to speak at the next Historic Zoning Commission meeting on November 15 at 2 p.m. in the Howard Office Building on 700 2nd Avenue South.

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