Flea market to move, lose parking spaces in Fairgrounds proposal - WSMV News 4

Flea market to move, lose parking spaces in Fairgrounds proposal

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The proposed layout of the Fairgrounds with a soccer stadium would move the flea market and other buildings to the lower side of the property near Fair Park. (Photo submitted) The proposed layout of the Fairgrounds with a soccer stadium would move the flea market and other buildings to the lower side of the property near Fair Park. (Photo submitted)
A pedestrian bridge over Wedgewood Avenue is being proposed for the Fairgrounds. (Photo submitted) A pedestrian bridge over Wedgewood Avenue is being proposed for the Fairgrounds. (Photo submitted)
Designers review plans for the Nashville Fairgrounds with members of the public. (WSMV) Designers review plans for the Nashville Fairgrounds with members of the public. (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The Nashville Fairgrounds as you know it now will no longer exist if a plan that architects are drawing right now is finalized.

Every single building except the racetrack would be torn down to make room for a proposed professional soccer stadium and private development.

All expo buildings and sheds would be leveled. New buildings totaling 150,000 square feet of air-conditioned space would be rebuilt on the lower edge of the property adjacent to the new Fair Park.

Fair Park is under construction and will include public soccer fields, a greenway and a dog park.

Architects and planners have spent the week fitting the puzzle pieces together after receiving instructions from the Fair Board that the MLS stadium and private development should go at the top of the hill and the flea market and expo buildings should be on the outlying flat acreage.

The tract proposed for the flea market and expo space would be about 17 acres, as currently drawn. There would be 600 parking spaces, as opposed to the 2,500 spaces currently available on flea market days. There are a total of 117 acres at the Fairgrounds.

The soccer stadium footprint includes a 400-space parking area for soccer players, coaches and VIPs.


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The stadium is drawn surrounded by three blocks of what will be privately developed mixed-use property. The uses are expected to include a hotel, restaurants and offices. The city plans to issue a long-term lease to the developer for use of the public land.

Hunter Ghee is one of the architects drawing the soccer stadium and its surrounding mixed-use developments. He is working for the team owners.

News4 asked Ghee about parking on the property. He said that the 10 acres of privately developed land are likely to include parking structures.

"We're not far enough to know how many spaces will be available during event days, but certainly many of them will be,” Ghee said.

Planners hope they will be able to park cars on the new public soccer fields, which are built with reinforced turf. Ghee said more parking might be available inside the racetrack on non-race days.

As designers worked, flea market vendor Suzanne Way asked questions and was angered at the answers. Some of the mixed-use buildings could be five to eight stories tall, she said.

"I don't see charm left," said Way, who said this development appeals not to ordinary people but to the population willing to pay $9 for a beer.

"I feel like there's an elitist feel to everything that's happening. They're taking over this public land and giving it to investors. I'm at a loss," she said.

The designers have added elements to improve walkability and appeal for Wedgewood-Houston neighbors.

Ghee showed a sketch of a new walking bridge that will connect the high point of Wedgewood-Houston to the high point of the Fairgrounds.

The walking bridge would go over Wedgewood Avenue. It would be wooden, painted white, and designed to remind people of the roller coaster that once entertained people at the fairgrounds.

The walking bridge would give residents better access to the site, which Ghee sees becoming a town center of sorts.

There is not expected to be a public parking lot where the walking bridge ends in Wedgewood-Houston. Ghee said the bridge is primarily designed for residents, not people who plan to drive, park and walk across the bridge.

Ghee thought people might be able to park at the school or find off-street parking in the neighborhood.

The plan does not show where a state fair would be located. Architects told News4 the fair might be held in the flea market acreage with the midway being located inside the speedway.

There has been a rift between the board that governs the Tennessee State Fair over where or if the state fair should move to a new location.

Seven years ago, Metro voters approved a referendum that requires the fairgrounds to maintain all existing uses, such as the flea market, expo center, state fair and racetrack. It would take 27 council votes to demolish any building or discontinue a protected use of the property.

There is a private meeting at Fall-Hamilton School on Friday from 5:30-7:30 p.m. for flea market vendors only.

The plans as drawn will be presented at a public session on Tuesday, May 29 from 6-8 p.m. at the Creative Arts Building at the Fairgrounds.

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