Nashville, Tenn. – Today, Mayor John Cooper and the Metro Nashville Planning Department released the draft Imagine East Bank Vision, which showcases ideas to realize the community-driven principles for new neighborhoods on the East Bank including around mobility, access, affordability, riverfront activation, and open spaces.
The Imagine East Bank Study kicked off in February 2021 and over the course of 18 months Metro Planning, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, consultants Perkins Eastman, NDOT, MDHA, and other state and local entities, conducted robust community engagement to envision a future of vibrant, thriving neighborhoods where hundreds of acres of asphalt sit today.
“For the first time in the modern history of Nashville, we have an opportunity to comprehensively plan a core part of our city from the ground up,” said Mayor John Cooper. “This is the largest-ever community-driven planning process ever for Nashville, and the result will be something that protects us from haphazard, piecemeal development and sets the stage for an East Bank that provides transportation solutions, affordable housing, parks, civic space and all the features of great neighborhoods. We are deeply committed to creating an East Bank that serves all of our residents, connecting neighborhoods through innovative transit, reducing traffic and prioritizing affordability as we move into this next phase.”
“So often, in city building, municipalities are reacting in a piecemeal way to private development, but this time is different,” said Lucy Kempf, Metro Planning Executive Director. “With the East Bank we have the opportunity to shape more than 300 acres in our urban core and set community-based priorities that will transform it from predominantly surface parking uses into neighborhoods that connect and serve Nashvillians. This is a more effective way to strategically manage growth.”
A vision is our aspiration for the future – it is meant to reflect the priorities of the community, to highlight strategies to solve certain problems and to give us a picture of possibility. Metro Planning’s visioning goal was to craft a dynamic planning process that supports inclusive and meaningful engagement of all stakeholders in the creation of a forward-thinking, information-driven, and community-led vision for the future of the East Bank.
Four concepts that emerged from community input sessions are used throughout the plan as a framework for the vision. They are:
- Equitable and Affordable East Bank: Advances equity, resiliency, and high quality of life for all Nashvillians through the creation of accessible places to live, work and play.
- Safe & Simple Multimodal Connections: Provides a robust, multimodal transportation system enabling easy and equal access to and through the East Bank.
- Respect for the River: Re-centers the river as a vital community amenity and bolsters resiliency through enhanced flood-plain and stormwater management.
- Neighborhoods for Nashvillians: Creates vibrant, livable, and authentic neighborhoods that prioritize the everyday needs of Nashvillians.
“During the last 20 years, the Civic Design Center has been working to create a vision for the East Bank neighborhood starting with its guiding document ‘The Plan Of Nashville’,” said Eric Hoke, Design Director, Civic Design Center. “We are so excited about the Imagine East Bank Vision Plan as it is a chance to create a community-driven approach to establish our streets as a principal public space, promote smart growth, and strengthen our connection to the Cumberland River.”
“The Imagine East Bank Vision Plan is ambitious in its effort to reimagine an underutilized but well positioned district within our city,” said Kim Hawkins, Founding Principal, HAWKINS PARTNERS, Inc. and ULI Nashville Chair of Advisory Board/Governance Committee. “Its location on the Cumberland River and proximity to our thriving downtown and many established neighborhoods allow the East Bank to become the Great Connector through meaningful open space, a well-balanced, mixed-use district with attainable housing and a strong civic purpose all within a model of resiliency.”
At 338 acres Imagine East Bank is the largest planning study in Metro’s history, which is why robust community engagement, research and analysis were crucial to creating a plan and recommendations that can become a real possibility.
While ensuring these new neighborhoods serve the needs of the Nashvillians who will eventually live, work and play in the East Bank, a vital first step is building the infrastructure to support housing, businesses, quality of life amenities, and robust multimodal options.
Some proposals in the draft vision plan include:
· 1.5-miles of Nashville’s first dedicated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes along the north-south East Bank Boulevard that would provide a vital missing piece to the current system to provide connections to areas outside of our downtown core;
· 5.6-miles of protected bike lanes that provide redundancies that would not be impacted by major street closures and provide connections to bikeways throughout our city;
· Planned space for a Mobility Hub that will complement WeGo’s Central Station and could allow for the opportunity to build housing atop the station;
· Engage Affordable Housing Taskforce and the community to assist in establishing affordability goals for each phase of development to include a mix of income ranges, including goals for deep affordability.
Imagine East Bank proposes an community-led vision that will take years, if not decades, to be fully realized. Many components of the vision are interdependent, requiring careful consideration, prioritization, phasing, resources, and other factors like feasibility or subsequent planning studies.
Metro Planning staff will continue to seek community input for the draft vision through September 16 prior to an informational presentation to Metro Planning Commission on September 8. Feedback can be shared at in-person or virtual open houses, through a survey about the study, at drop-in office hours, or via email. A full list of events can be found at eastbankstudy.nashville.gov.