For those of you following the fair grounds issue, you are probably aware that the city currently has a consultant developing a study on the future of the fairgrounds. The consultants are comparing two options. Option one would be to continue the present use of the fairgrounds but improve and upgrade the site. Option two would be to sell off the property and to develop a planned mixed use development for the site.
The study is not done yet, but I can tell you the outcome. The writing is on the wall and the skids are greased to destroy the fairground.
Option one will show that the fairgrounds area is too small for a really attractive State Fair comparable to other State Fairs and that the cost of upgrading and improving the site is so costly that it will require a major tax payer subsidy to do so. And, preserving it will not enhance the area.
Option two will show a Planned Unit Development with happy, smiling people and green parks and coffee shops and attractive boutique shopping and entertainment and attractive urban housing and maybe a dog park and a play ground and nice lighting and fountains. And it will project that this option will have a tremendous boon to city coffers when it sells off the land to a developer and will enhance and revitalize all of the 2nd and 4th Avenue area and Nolensville Road from SoBro to Harding Place and will greatly increase the tax base.
If those are the options, which will the city choose?
Duane Dominy wants to look outside the box. Could we keep the fairgrounds, keep the current uses, keep the race track and the flea market, and maintain a place to host the gun shows and Christmas Village and the Lawn and Garden show and other events that use the fairgrounds? And, improve and enhance the buildings and grounds and maybe add other attractions? And, it not cost Metro any money, but actually make money for Metro?
Councilman Dominy has introduced a bill on first reading that would require that, "the fair board shall issue a request for information (RFI) to gauge interest from the private sector regarding the future operation of the fairgrounds property," This bill should pass.
I have heard rumors of a group that would present such a proposal to the city. If they could have a twenty-five year lease, they would be willing to invest major dollars in the fairground and keep the fair and existing uses. They also may have plans for a tourist attraction at the site which would give visitors to our city more to do and another place to spend their tourist dollars. There is nothing to be lost by accepting and reviewing proposals. Who knows, there may be more than one group which would like a shot at taking over the fairgrounds and maintain the current uses but enhance and improve the site. Let us see what ideas the private sector has to offer.
If you want to keep the fairgrounds, if you want to see what options the private sector may offer, then please urge your councilman to support Duane Dominy's Bill.
Below is the text of the bill.
An ordinance amending Chapter 2.78 of the Metropolitan Code pertaining to the future operation of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds property.
Section 1. That Chapter 2.78 of the Metropolitan Code is hereby amended by adding the following new Section 2.78.020:
Not later than January 1, 2013, the fair board shall issue a request for information (RFI) to gauge interest from the private sector regarding the future operation of the fairgrounds property. The RFI is to assist the fair board in the identification of potential options to partner with the private sector to make significant capital improvements to the fairgrounds property in exchange for a long term lease of at least twenty-five years with a portion of the revenue generated on the property to be shared with the Metropolitan Government. The RFI should specify that the existing property uses (fair, expo center, flea market, race track and livestock exhibitions) are to remain, and should seek interest from the private sector for the long-term operation of each of these functions.”