Henry Menge of FifthGen, a real estate brokerage and investment firm, explains development plans to an area resident next to a poster showing buildings planned on 93 acres.

By Clint Confehr

WHITES CREEK, TN — Residents meeting in the Minerva Cultural Center voted 38-2 against plans for warehouses and retail buildings on Whites Creek Pike at Briley Parkway, group leaders reported.

Joyce George, left, and Racquel Davis, right, are dismayed over plans for warehouses in the northwest quadrant of Briley Parkway and Whites Creek Pike interchange.
Photos by Clint Confehr

However, that’s not a death knell for the proposal, according to Henry Menge, managing director and principal broker at Fifth Generation Property Co., 1814 Hayes St., a commercial real estate brokerage and investment company.

“This is a constituency that … everybody needs to hear from as part of the project,” Menge said. “I’ve had plenty of conversations with people in rooms of a similar size where there are people who are supportive of what we are talking about here.”

It’s a specific plan for up to 920,000 square feet of commercial building space on 93 acres. Davidson County planning commissioners are to consider it during a 4-7 p.m. meeting June 13 in the Howard Office Building, 700 2nd Ave., South.

“I’m struggling to see what the benefit is for a homeowner,” Ben Goldsmith said May 19 at a meeting co-hosted by Friends of Whites Creek, a group that’s applied for tax-free status under IRS rules, and the Haynes-Trinity Neighborhood Coalition.

Menge impressed Luvenia Harrison as “open and honest … [for] coming in and explaining things,” she said. “But … it’s a warehouse and there are concerns about trucks.”

Traffic delay “is my concern,” Harrison said, acknowledging the interchange offers good access to Briley Parkway. “But this is why we moved out here … I’m not against smart growth,” she said, describing herself as “ambivalent.”

An old dairy barn near 636 W. Green Lane is where warehouses and other commercial buildings are proposed. Neighbors say someone’s dumping construction rubble on the land.

Former county planning commissioner Jennifer Hagen Dier led the meeting. She explained zoning codes and Menge described the proposal and zoning.

He said just because people haven’t seen retail services in front of warehouses doesn’t mean it can’t happen. While no specific brand of store could even be described enough to satisfy residents, one of Menge’s drawings shows “Deli” as an example of a business to help shield public view of warehouses.

“There are people who … say we need jobs in this part of town,” Menge said. While it’s locally known as Whites Creek, he said it’s “part of the city overall. The city is growing quickly and we need to be able to accommodate that in an intelligent fashion and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

His point about fast growth furthers the argument that a long-term plan should be changed. The counter point is that this sort of change could lead to other similar changes nearby.

Zack Dier countered Menge’s point that the development would be good for jobs. “We don’t have a jobs shortage,” Dier said. “We have a person shortage” illustrated by historically low unemployment.

His wife, Hagen Dier, said, public opinion “always holds some weight” with planing commissioners, but what Menge describes needs an amendment to the community plan crafted with a community participation program; Nashville Next. During 2014 and 2015, thousands of people participated in the development of a 25-year plan which says residents’ opinions must be considered, especially with a change like this which “is not within the scope of what should be in that area,” Hagen Dier said.

Clint Confehr

Clint Confehr — an American journalist since 1972 — first wrote for The Tennessee Tribune in 1999. His news writing and photography in South Central Tennessee and the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical...