NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s been two years since the bombing on Second Avenue that destroyed some of Nashville’s most historic buildings.
News 2 has been following the rebuilding projects and the future plans for Second Avenue, and is now hearing more about the specific project that has a focus on urban renewal and creative placemaking.
The iconic Victorian buildings along Second Avenue were synonymous with the iconic strip until the Christmas morning bombing, but as these structures are rebuilt, architects say it’s important to be intentional with the plans.
“In the hours and days after the bombing, there were a lot of people saying, ‘We’ve got to go back in and rebuild those streets like they are now.’ And several of us said, ‘No, we really need to look at creating a place that’s better than it’s ever been,'” said Cyril Stewart, a principal with LLC/Urban Land Institute.
That’s the idea behind ‘creative placemaking,’ creating places that people want to be by combining art, culture and nature to reignite economic development on Second Avenue. A new report out by the Urban Land Institute helped guide that process, along with input from hundreds of Nashvillians about what they want to see.
“We’re not trying to recreate the past and copy the past, we’re not trying to save the past. We’re trying to create a future that’s better than the past has ever been,” Stewart said.
Now for the creative part – using the entire façade of the AT&T building as a blank canvas for art.
“What if we do a ghost image on that façade, so the AT&T building is now undergoing a renovation? They’ll have a new skin put on it, it’s been completed on the Third Avenue side, it’s wrapping around the south, and will next move on to the Second Avenue side,” said Stewart.
The art will be that of Phil Ponder’s work and the watercolor, “Marketstreet Too”, but in the halftone rendering technique to make it more abstract. It’s an ode to the past, while looking to the future.
“So it becomes a backdrop when you come up from the river,” said Kim Hawkins, the Chair of Advisory Board/Governance Committee, Urban Land Institute. “That’s what your backdrop is, you’re looking at this ghost image on the mural, and I think it really provides such an important note there and will really help draw people really important, not just this was really intended for Nashvillians.”
The art, the outdoor dining, wider sidewalks and new lighting will all help build that connection between the river and Second Avenue, all possibilities that wouldn’t have been possible had the bombing never happened.
“It’s really about place keeping, because the space, the place that we have is so important. We don’t want to forget it. So we’re not making a new one. We’re trying to really keep at and make it better,” said Hawkins.
The mural is set to be finished early 2023.