Mayor may face another fight on convention center front - WKRN News 2

Mayor may face another fight on convention center front

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Metro Development and Housing Agency said Thursday it has successfully negotiated relocation packages with seven of the 14 businesses that stand in the way of the proposed Music City Center.

The others face eminent domain action by MDHA, which would potentially be a court-ordered relocation of the businesses at a price tag dictated by the agency.

MDHA Development Director Joe Cain said Thursday the agency "continues to negotiate" with the remaining businesses, and it would use eminent domain "only if necessary" to meet a January 1, 2010 deadline.

The deadline is important because it would keep the project on a timeline to be completed by 2013.  That is as long as Nashville Mayor Karl Dean receives funding approval later this fall from the Metro Council.

Earlier this year, the Council appropriated $75 million for MDHA to relocate the 14 businesses in the "footprint" of the proposed convention.

The individual relocation packages that MDHA is offering includes property price, demolition, utility removal, environmental cleanup and other costs associated with moving.

The so-called "footprint" of the Music City Center is a downtown area rectangle, south of Broadway, behind the Sommet Center.

It borders Demonbreun on the north, Franklin and Shirley streets to the south, 8th Avenue to the west and 5th Avenue to the east.

One of the businesses facing relocation is teen recreation center Rocketown.

"We really want to stay in the downtown area, I think that is an essential element of who we are," Rocketown's executive director ReGina Newkirk told News 2 Thursday.

She said the board is "still negotiating" with MDHA to move out of the way for the convention center.

"We are certainly supportive of that but we also want to be sure our needs are met, and more importantly kids have a place to go," said Newkirk.

Not so diplomatic is Metro Councilman Michael Craddock.

"I don't know what I can do as a councilman except be absolutely disgusted at the process," he said while walking in front of the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, another one of the 14 businesses that would be relocated.

"These are hardworking, taxpaying business people and we are going to seek to take their property and that's not right, it's not the American way," he added with a wave of the hand at the area affected.

Craddock has long been an outspoken critic of the project, which is likely to depend on a tourist hotel-motel tax to pay for the $600 million center.

Mayor Dean is still grappling with a second element of the project, a 1,000-room hotel attached to the center.

He considers it "vital" to the success of the convention center but has not yet determined the hotel's financing.

Together, the convention center and hotel approach a $1 billion price tag.

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