BELLE MEADE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Belle Meade neighbors are meeting Wednesday night to voice concerns about the proposed mixed-use development that would level the bulk of the former Belle Meade Theater building on Harding Pike.
The historic marquee and towering sign atop the former theater have served as a landmark since 1940, but as time passed, the building’s purpose evolved.
“There was a Davis Kidd bookstore there for a while, there was the Harris Teeter store,” Irvin Venick said. “It’s had a history since it was closed down as the Belle Meade Theater.”
On Wednesday, Oct. 4, Venick — who settled down in the quaint area of Belle Meade some three decades ago — stood where a gas station was recently leveled.
“We’re sitting right now on some vacant property. This is going to be developed shortly,” Venick explained.
His eyes, however, are mostly focused on what’s to come across the street.
“This is a very, very desirable area, and developers have focused on it, and so there are major changes coming to this, and unfortunately, the infrastructure is not well-structured, well-designed to accommodate it, so those are all things that have to be addressed,” Venick told News 2.
Renderings paint a vision that would demolish the bulk of the former theater and replace it with a six-story, mixed-use building, which would be anchored by Kroger and include more than 200 residential units.
“I think we have traffic concerns that have to be addressed, there are access concerns, there are design concerns, there are historic preservation concerns. It’s not only the sign, but there are still remnants of the old Belle Meade Theater, so there are people involved in historic preservation that have voiced some concern about that,” said Venick.
The development comes on the heels of the controversial Belle Meade Plaza overhaul just down the street. That project includes condo homes, hundreds of rental apartments, a hotel, and retail space.
“There’s a fairly well-known controversy over the Belle Meade Plaza development, and now we have a Kroger development project, and we’re also standing probably a quarter of a mile from one of the busiest intersections in Nashville, so there are obviously traffic concerns that have to be addressed, especially since this project will impact neighborhoods that are on the south side of Harding Road,” Venick explained.
Members of the impacted neighborhood are invited to Wednesday 7 p.m. meeting at Ensworth. Organizers said the goal of the event is getting ahead of the project and being involved in the future plans.
“We want to have an opportunity to have a full and frank discussion among neighborhood residents about what concerns they may have and understand the process so they can move forward and come up with the best project we can possibly come up with,” Venick said.
News 2 reached out to the developers on the Harding Pike project, but they have yet to respond.