Convention center approved, plans move forward - WKRN News 2

Convention center approved, plans move forward

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Minutes after the Metro Council Tuesday night approved the financing plan for the Music City Center the focus turned to conventions.

The project's top supporter, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, is already counting down to the city's first convention in the new 1.2 million-square-foot facility.

He said, "1,130 days, if you're keeping track, and I am keeping track, and so will you, so we need to get started."

The council voted 29 in favor and 9 opposed to the controversial project.

Councilman Michael Craddock voted against the center and after the vote, held up rain buckets used in Metro classrooms that can't afford new roofs to make his point.

"The Bordeaux Enhanced Option Elementary school had to put these buckets in the classrooms because we can't even afford to put a roof on the school.  How can we sit here and make a decision like this, go against the people?" he asked.

Opponents of the project had hoped for a public referendum to vote on whether to build the proposed $585 million convention center, but that resolution failed.

Kevin Sharp is president of the group Nashville Priorities, which collected signatures of citizens asking for a referendum.

"I think everybody in this city ought to be a little disappointed at the way this went down without giving the people an opportunity to vote which clearly they wanted to do, so yeah it's disappointing," he said.

For supporters of the project and the mayor's office, there's no looking back.

"We'll start moving forward in a positive way starting [Wednesday] morning," said Mayor Dean.

The project's manager said a field office will be set up near the proposed site as early as this week.

Metro still has to buy up some properties through eminent domain and demolish some buildings but the official groundbreaking could come as early as the spring.

The idea of a new or expanded convention center has been on Metro's table since 1999, and has been the subject of numerous studies, task forces, presentations and public meetings.

The facility will sit just south of the Sommet Center in an area bordered by Demonbreun Street to the north, Korean Veterans Parkway to the south, 5th Avenue to the east and 8th Avenue to the west and replace the current convention center on Lower Broadway.

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