As Nashville grows, some wonder if city is losing identity - WSMV News 4

As Nashville grows, some wonder if city is losing identity

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Salemtown is one neighborhood where old Nashville meets new. (WSMV) Salemtown is one neighborhood where old Nashville meets new. (WSMV)

While Nashville is experiencing incredible growth, some think the city may be losing its identity.

“Nashville is a small town with a large city feel,” said Fredrick, who lives in Salemtown.

Salemtown is one Nashville neighborhood that’s undergoing an incredible transformation. It’s a place where old Nashville collides with new.

“I honestly think it’s because of proximity to downtown,” said Metro Councilman Freddie O’Connell.

O’Connell represents District 19. He also lives in Salemtown on the forefront of downtown Nashville.

“Not long after we had moved to the neighborhood, somebody found a body, just in a vacant lot,” he said.

Over the last several years, the area has turned from a diverse, low-income part of town to one of the hottest neighborhoods. Empty lots in the area are some of the most valuable pieces of property in Nashville. Decades-old buildings were leveled to make way for cottages that will cost a half-million dollars.

Living in Salemtown comes with a local cost of living estimated 18 percent higher than the rest of Nashville.

“What are we going to do for folks that want to stay in this neighborhood? Because as you can see, all the stuff that’s being built new, I wouldn’t describe any of it as affordable,” O’Connell said.

O’Connell said the neighborhood, and perhaps Nashville as a whole, is losing some of its identity.

“When we moved here, this was a great, diverse neighborhood where you had people of mixed race, mixed income, mixed age,” he said.

At the same time, infrastructure is struggling to keep pace. Neighbors say traffic is one of their main concerns, and O’Connell said an updated public transit system is long overdue.

“If it turns out that Nashville as a city says ‘no’ to funding for transit, then I don’t know what we do with the anger that materializes with more traffic,” O’Connell said.

Another is education. Metro Schools in the immediate area have failing grades when it comes to the “Great Schools” rating system.

“How do we make sure there’s a great school in every community with great teachers in every classroom, with great leaders in every building? We’re still a ways off on that,” O’Connell said.

When it comes to increasing demands on infrastructure, water resources and public utilities are also feeling the strain. In the coming weeks, Chris Miller will be looking at how the city is addressing the growing needs of thousands of new residents.

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