Future plan for Watkins College ‘not good use of property’, says councilwoman

Nashville 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s a sale that has been a long time coming, in a district with endless opportunities.

Following a major merge between Watkins College of Art and Belmont University in 2020, Belmont is now selling the former college property at Rosa Parks Blvd. in North Nashville.

City leaders looked toward the sale as a possible opportunity to revitalize the area and bring it back to what it once was.

Belmont recently closed on the sale to a joint venture of affiliates of Nashville-based Chartwell Residential LLC and EJF Capital LLC for $22.5 million.

As previously announced, net funds from the sale of the campus will create an endowment to provide scholarships for visual arts students in Belmont’s Watkins College of Art. The endowed fund is expected to produce more than $800,000 annually for arts scholarships upon maturation.

“I’m happy that Belmont was able to get so much for the land and fund scholarships for those studying the arts,” Metro councilwoman Kyonzte Toombs said of District 2.

Though, she admitted she’s not super thrilled about the future plans for the property.

“The new owner is looking to build 800 units, and I think for that land to be 100% residential project. I think its not a good use for that particular piece of property,” Toombs said. “The Watkins campus is such a large piece of land in Metro Center, so it would be disappointing if again it was 100% residential.”

Toombs said she was hoping for more of an urban feel and plans for a mixed-use development to bring more retail, walkability, and new restaurants to the area.

She added that she has no problem with adding residential space but is looking for a project that benefits the community as a whole.

“There have been a few new businesses on Rosa Parks, and there’s also a restaurant coming soon as part of a new hotel in the area,” she said. “There are some things happening. It’s definitely on a trajectory to move forward and be revitalized and get back to what it used to be. I just want it to be a vibrant place that people can enjoy.”

News 2 reached out to Chartwell Residential LLC and have yet to hear back.

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