Plans involve adaptive reuse of the building, preserving its architecture and original educational purposes and a sweetheart deal that subsidizes the purchase by teachers union.
Metro Press Release, 5/5/2016, NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Metro officials are nearing completion of
“When I found out that TEA, which represents so many of our great public school teachers, was interested in purchasing the property, I was excited about the opportunity,” said Mayor Megan Barry. “This is a win for historic preservation advocates, public school advocates, and the city of Nashville as a whole.”
In the proposal submitted to Metro, TEA plans for the first floor of the building to function as a large auditorium, meeting, and display space for use by students, teachers, and others involved in education. TEA will preserve the second floor theater for similar educational purposes. As part of the deal, TEA will make the Ben West Library Building’s proposed conference and event space available to Metro Schools 50 days each year for meetings and events, plus 12 days extended to Metro.
“We are excited to have a collaborative partnership with Mayor Barry and Metro Nashville to ensure that the Ben West building is preserved in a way that will serve as an important resource for teachers and public schools across Tennessee,” said Jim Wrye, government relations manager with the Tennessee Education Association.
“Once renovations of the building are complete, we will be able to move our annual TEA convention from Franklin to Nashville, which is great for our members and will be an economic boost for the city.”
Terms of the sale of the Ben West Library include: $2 million to the McLanahan heirs in order to satisfy terms of the deed restrictions on the original property. $2 million to Metro Nashville, $750,000 of which will be paid at closing, with $125,000 per year for 10 years. Estimated $8,500,000 in renovations by TEA to create a “state of the art” facility for use by Metro Schools, teachers, educators and Metro. Total preservation of the historic building, with no modifications to height or façade. A total investment of TEA in the amount of $12,500,000. Purchase of the Ben West Library will coincide with the successful closing of the sale of the existing TEA facility at 801 2nd Ave North.