Nashville

Discuss anything urban that's pertinent to our understanding of the USA.
I don't see why the topic needed to be locked. It's still a good discussion. For what it's worth. Nashville's metro area GDP is ranked at 37th while St. Louis' is ranked 21st. Nashville is a little over half the size of St. Louis' population. As someone said, they have the best PR in the nation right now and we arguably have the worst. Ironic that the worlds largest PR firm, FH, is based in downtown STL..
jcity wrote:
I don't see why the topic needed to be locked. It's still a good discussion.


Because the original trolling post was full of lies and inaccurate statements.

jcity wrote:
For what it's worth. Nashville's metro area GDP is ranked at 37th while St. Louis' is ranked 21st. Nashville has a little over half the size of St. Louis. As someone said, they have the best PR in the nation right now and we arguably have the worst. Ironic that the worlds largest PR firm, FH, is based in downtown STL..


Nashville also the definite advantage of being a state capital. If you took that from them they would be knocked down a couple pegs pretty quickly. And on the flip side if St. Louis was the state capital for Missouri I can't help to think things would be very different.
I spent several weeks in Nashville in the first part of 2013. And I've had friends from Nashville visit me in St. Louis.

Here's how I break it down. I envy Nashville's downtown. The state capitol and tourist trade definitely add a vibrancy that frankly our DT does not have most of the time.

However I noticed--and my Nashvillian friends who visited STL concur- we have more vibrant neighborhoods. The West End area around Vanderbilt is nice, but the U City Loop and the CWE are much more urban IMO. Their West End felt more like Brentwood.

Germantown is an historic neighborhood just north of downtown Nash with some beautiful homes, but it's kind of sparse and quiet for being so close to the urban core. It felt much more sleepy than Lafayette Square or Soulard.

East Nashville is a very cool, still sort of gritty gentrifying area that I liked quite a bit. It reminds me of certain neighborhoods in south STL. But again it feels like it empties out pretty quick.

Overall I'm kind of amazed how many people who prefer lively nabes and dense places praise Nashville. Don't get me wrong, I like the place. But there are far better examples of cities with active dense neighborhoods.
I really don't think Nashville and St. Louis are directly comparable. For starters, St. Louis is much larger and is much, MUCH more urban. Nashville really doesn't have any urban bones to speak of outside of its downtown core, from whence the city explodes out like spokes from a wheel along major arterials in suburban style that resembles West County. It doesn't really feel like a big city to me, but more like an overgrown small town. I actually think Memphis feels more urban than Nashville, despite being slightly smaller (if we're sticking with Tennessee cities). That being said, Nashville is doing a fantastic job attracting residents and businesses by marketing itself as a hip, young, confident city with decent amenities and low cost of living. While I think St. Louis definitely beats Nashville in terms of hipness and amenities (and almost everything else, for that matter), we have a self-esteem problem that is costing us a lot of the progress that is going Nashville's direction.
I thought STL and Memphis would be more comparable before moving down here last year. I was surprised at the lack of urban core areas in Memphis. There are pockets of strong urban neighborhoods (Midtown) as well as areas on the rise like South Main, parts of downtown, and along Broad. However there is no comparison to STL in terms of neighborhood density, diversity, and urban bones. The size of the city limits, however, makes "city" living very popular and attractive among a huge economically influential demographic of young professionals with young families in East Memphis. While this is a great area, attractive, incredibly convenient, and "urban" from a Memphis City Limits perspective, it's analogous to Manchester road through Rock Hill or Brentwood. It is not surprising that Nashville's newer, flashy image attracts youth more than the awesome but rough around the edges neighborhoods of STLcity. Agree PR is key to changing this challenging trend.
blzhrpmd2 wrote:
It is not surprising that Nashville's newer, flashy image attracts youth more than the awesome but rough around the edges neighborhoods of STLcity. Agree PR is key to changing this challenging trend.


It would seem, then, that our options going forward are make St. Louis look newer and flashier, or somehow make the "awesome but rough around the edges" look cooler. The latter is probably easier to attain.

But how?
I have a few friends who like country music and they seem to really enjoy Nashville.
moorlander wrote:
I have a few friends who like country music and they seem to really enjoy Nashville.


Commercial country certainly drives the tourism trade in Nashville, but away from Lower Broadway I was surprised by how many other genres of music one can find in the city.
I think the one thing to envy about Nashville is how you have two strong pretty much constant commercial stretches that run for a good distance:
-Broadway out through the Vanderbilt area and makes the turn onto 21st
-Demonbreun and Division

While St. Louis is larger and much more numerous good areas and neighborhoods; they'll all separated. Nashville's are all together.
^That was one of the first things I noticed about STL, how there aren't the big, long strips of commerce in the city. No experience with Nashville, but versus the TC: On Hennepin from 31st St in Uptown all the way through to Central Ave in Nordeast, you have 4 straight miles of commerce that runs from the lakes to downtown to the east bank and U area. Lake Street from the lakes east to the Mississippi is about 5 miles with three distinct but large and mostly continuous commercial strips. University runs all the way from the U in MPLS to downtown SP for almost 8 miles of commerce. There are also significant but smaller stretches along, Minnehaha, Franklin, Nicollet, Lyndale, 50th, Ford, Snelling, Grand, 7th, and a number of others completely within both city limits. You can navigate most areas of the cities and never be far off a heavy commerce street with high business density.

Regarding the neighborhoods being separated, a lot of the carving up of the city seems to be in the area where 64, 70, 55, and the railroad converge along the south edge of the central corridor, which is made worse by FP, the hospital complexes, and SLU, so you have this huge strip of the center of the city that doesn't really have a lot of connective capacity in the first place. Add in how 70 and 55 slice off the riverfront from almost the entire city, and the railroad/industrial strip plus Gravois carves south city in half, and its easy to see why the parts of the city most of us see feels so chopped up. I think that stuff makes it really hard to have long, cohesive commercial strips - you definitely have a lot more edge zones. By contrast, North city has a comparatively cleanly laid out street grid with relatively few interruptions. It has suffered from white flight and now black flight and massive underinvestment for years, but I think the way it is built it has so much more potential to be a big, monolithic stretch of city than SoSTL.
What's sad is that we used to have this. Market, Easton/MLK, Olive, Page, Grand (still to some degree south but not north), Delmar, Gravois, Broadway, all used to be miles of commercial strips that were lost over the years.
Manchester, Gravois, Olive, and St. Charles Rock Road are very similar to several of the previously mentioned Nashville strips of commerce. And having lived in Nashville for a decade, I don't romanticize those commercial strips as much. They have their pockets of ups and downs just as ours do.
I think this is an interesting read. Nashville's population is expected to swell by another 200k in 20 years, and leaders there are considering various options to plan for the growth.

Residents weigh Nashville's future growth

The before-and-after photos, however, are as interesting as the story itself. They show archived Google Street View images from 2007 and compare/contrast them to more recent photos, which include the new Music City Center, the expanded Country Music Hall of Fame, and a LOT of infill in areas such as The Gulch, Germantown, Midtown, and the West End.

I recently spent a week in Nashville and was blown away by the progress I witnessed since my last visit, which was almost 10 years ago when I simply passed through the area. I also bought an interesting book that is next on my reading list, entitled Nashville Rising. It chronicles the rapid growth of Nashville, which had its roots in the 1963 consolidation of Nashville and Davidson County. There have been stops and starts along the way, but now Nashville is clearly in a period of rapid growth and has all of the growing pains associated with it. Meanwhile, we're Mapping Decline.

(Don't get me wrong, I still love it here and think there's no valid comparison between the cities, but it was nice to spend some time in a place with a more upbeat direction for the future. We have a lot to be proud of here, but I don't think we have enough population growth to sustain the positive momentum.) Still, there has been a lot of change in the Central Corridor over the same amount of time as Nashville's metamorphosis, so who knows what the future holds for our area?
Once again it goes back to my contention that major cities that are also state capitals have an advantage. It's not a slam dunk but always helps.

Look at Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver and Austin. In the next tier you can easily put Nashville.
threeonefour wrote:
(Don't get me wrong, I still love it here and think there's no valid comparison between the cities, but it was nice to spend some time in a place with a more upbeat direction for the future. We have a lot to be proud of here, but I don't think we have enough population growth to sustain the positive momentum.) Still, there has been a lot of change in the Central Corridor over the same amount of time as Nashville's metamorphosis, so who knows what the future holds for our area?


Are you saying you think we may slow down with some of our momentum? Actually I think the progress we've been seeing in the Central Corridor and select other parts of the city and region will continue and probably even pick up a bit in the coming years; however, I'm not sure we have enough growth and regional economic conditions to broaden much the lifting of boats.
threeonefour wrote:
We have a lot to be proud of here, but I don't think we have enough population growth to sustain the positive momentum.) Still, there has been a lot of change in the Central Corridor over the same amount of time as Nashville's metamorphosis, so who knows what the future holds for our area?


we haven't actually started to see any population growth yet. but i think we will, maybe even by next census. if the tech/science scene continues to grow our growth could go from zero to impressive pretty quickly.
dweebe wrote:
Once again it goes back to my contention that major cities that are also state capitals have an advantage. It's not a slam dunk but always helps.

Look at Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver and Austin. In the next tier you can easily put Nashville.
.

And Oklahoma City. It also helps to be in the center if your city-state, and not have you downtown out on a peninsula against a formidable barrier like a huge river or Canada.
dweebe wrote:
Once again it goes back to my contention that major cities that are also state capitals have an advantage. It's not a slam dunk but always helps.

Look at Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver and Austin. In the next tier you can easily put Nashville.
.

And Oklahoma City. It also helps to be in the center of your city-state, and not have your downtown out on a peninsula against a formidable barrier like a huge river or Canada such that the city centroid moves away from its downtown.
Oh, sure, go ahead and blame Canada!
urban_dilettante wrote:
threeonefour wrote:
We have a lot to be proud of here, but I don't think we have enough population growth to sustain the positive momentum.) Still, there has been a lot of change in the Central Corridor over the same amount of time as Nashville's metamorphosis, so who knows what the future holds for our area?


we haven't actually started to see any population growth yet. but i think we will, maybe even by next census. if the tech/science scene continues to grow our growth could go from zero to impressive pretty quickly.


The region at large has seen small growth and certainly in the city's central corridor (along with a few pockets elsewhere) we've seen both population growth and redevelopment progress. Also, it seems we have a curious case in South City where a number of nabes like the Tower Grovers seeing significant population decline in the naughts but also decent redevelopment progress and investment.... it would be interesting to know how common that is and also whether these places are now growing. But as you say our potential to spill out throughout the city/region is limited until we get much stronger population growth.
I'd like to know more about Nashville's growth.... I assume they are seeing a decent amount of retirement relocations that we just don't see here. Also, do quite a few young people these days relocate to Nashville without a job in hand and see it as a poor person's LA?
dweebe wrote:
Once again it goes back to my contention that major cities that are also state capitals have an advantage. It's not a slam dunk but always helps.

Look at Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver and Austin. In the next tier you can easily put Nashville.


Agreed. Indianapolis is in the same tier as Nashville. Indy doesn't have the concentration of interesting neighborhoods that St. Louis has, or even Nashville, but it has a really nice downtown. Even smaller capital cities like Little Rock benefit from the activity generated by state government. Downtown Jefferson City isn't the most exciting place, but it's a bit livelier than the downtown areas of Joplin and Cape Girardeau, all of which have between 40k and 50k residents. Springfield, Ill. might have a better downtown if Illinois didn't shift so many state jobs to Chicago or the outskirts of Springfield over the last couple of decades or so.

roger wyoming II wrote:
threeonefour wrote:
(Don't get me wrong, I still love it here and think there's no valid comparison between the cities, but it was nice to spend some time in a place with a more upbeat direction for the future. We have a lot to be proud of here, but I don't think we have enough population growth to sustain the positive momentum.) Still, there has been a lot of change in the Central Corridor over the same amount of time as Nashville's metamorphosis, so who knows what the future holds for our area?


Are you saying you think we may slow down with some of our momentum? Actually I think the progress we've been seeing in the Central Corridor and select other parts of the city and region will continue and probably even pick up a bit in the coming years; however, I'm not sure we have enough growth and regional economic conditions to broaden much the lifting of boats.


The latter part of your statement sums up my outlook for Greater St. Louis. It's not that I think the region can't or won't grow, it's just that I wonder if the positive momentum in the Central Corridor is enough to make up for the stagnation and/or loss of businesses and residents in other parts of the city and the region. The Post-Dispatch just reported that our regional economy barely grew in 2013, just 0.1%, well under the average growth rate of just under 2 percent for U.S. metro areas.

There are some positive signs- as urban dilletante pointed out- the tech/science growth here is very encouraging and could be the start of something much bigger. However, I still think our leadership is much more reactive than proactive, and it doesn't help that many of the names and faces are the same as they were when I moved to St. Louis after college 15 years ago. On a regional scale, I believe the city is the 'it' place, but on a national scale, I don't think we can ever compete with Nashville or Austin in terms of positive attention as well as the influx of new residents in those cities. I hope I am wrong.
^ I wonder how much growth we need to make steady progress if not entirely city-wide, at least in multiple corridors. We have to have realistic expectations, but what would it take to see solid redevelopment spill past Delmar, have some semblance of a viable Northside Redevelopment take root, have Cherokee be not just an entertainment destination but also a solid anchor attracting new residents to surrounding streets, while also seeing even greater progress in the Central Corridor? etc. etc.

Could this be accomplished with an overall growth rate of say a modest .5% or so a year (assuming other parts of the city will continue to stagnate) or would it take more than that? I am optimistic that we can approach something like that in the coming years. but more than that seems too ambitious absent radical change.
roger wyoming II wrote:
^ I wonder how much growth we need to make steady progress if not entirely city-wide, at least in multiple corridors.


The truth is, as a region, we don't need any growth. How much did the region grow when St. Charles county added several hundred thousand residents over the last 3-4 decades? How much did the region really grow in the 50's and 60's when St. Louis county suburbs were booming? The city can grow jobs and population while the region is shrinking. It just has to take those jobs and people from other places within metro St. Louis. This area has the population and economy to support a vibrant city, we've just chosen not to.

This is why I'm not a big fan of the city-county merger or the pro-regionalism push. Realistically, St. Louis is going to continue to be a slow-growth region. I don't see a way to truly revitalize the city without some negative consequences for the suburbs. St. Louis and St. Charles county need to decline in jobs, tax base, and population. North county needs to continue to decay. There needs to be winners and losers. And St. Louis city needs to be able to look out for itself and make sure it's a winner.
RogerWyoming- great question about the Central Corridor growth rubbing off onto adjacent areas. I don't know how realistic it is, but it'd be nice to see more new development spill north of the Delmar Divide, and not just the Northside project. Also, I'd like to see job and retail growth start to catch up with the residential growth downtown. Don't get me wrong, downtown may still benefit as people choose to live there and commute to CORTEX, Barnes-Jewish, SLU and WashU, etc., but our concerns about the viability of downtown with fewer jobs and little if any retail are well documented in the State of Downtown discussion thread.

DanRyan- I don't disagree with your perspective, but I am concerned about the suburbs becoming a drain on the city if the tables begin to turn without any significant population or economic growth. In the late 1990s, when the Peirce Report was published, it was revealed that Greater St. Louis' population grew 35% between 1950 and 1990 while its land usage grew 355% during that time. The city may become successful at snagging businesses, jobs, and ultimately, residents from the surrounding counties, but there are going to be some major headaches (and bills) when it comes time to replace and/or upgrade ageing infrastructure in St. Louis and St. Charles counties.

Meanwhile, back in Nashville, here's another headline from The Tennessean:

Nashville economy officially tops $100B mark

...and while St. Louis' economy grew 0.1%, Nashville's grew 3.6% in 2013. They must be doing something right there!