Dean unveils riverfront amphitheater, parks plan

Project costs could reach $40M

Mayor Karl Dean unveiled park projects for both sides of the Cumberland River Tuesday that he says will make Nashville's riverfront a "destination."

Standing halfway across the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge and flanked by conceptual renderings, Dean announced the completion of the West Riverfront Master Plan and the beginning of its design phase. While it will include a flood wall and a new pedestrian promenade — dubbed the We Are Nashville Promenade — the plan is anchored by a 12-acre park at the former Thermal Transfer Plant site that will include green space and an amphitheater. (See renderings below.)

“This is the last great piece of open space in downtown Nashville,” Dean said. “And it sits in the premier location on the edge of our river. Like other great cities that have taken the effort to preserve and plan open space downtown, I believe if done right the Thermal site can be an iconic park that generations of Nashvillians will be proud of and which they can enjoy.”

The concept as envisioned — and described in a release from the mayor's office — would include a a 1.5-acre event lawn that “could accommodate a soccer field and be a place for picnics and Frisbee games.” The amphitheater would have capacity for 6,500 people and could host new events — such as performances from the Nashville Symphony — as well as existing ones like the city's July 4 celebration and the CMA Music Festival. The project would also include a mile of new greenway that would complete a two-mile, continuous path connecting downtown to the east bank and back.

Dean also announced that redevelopment on the east bank will continue with construction of a 4.5-acre park in front of LP Field that will include a riverfront landing for boats as well as new green space and pedestrian and bike paths.

Dean said the projects make “downtown more compelling than it already is.”

“One of the great success stories of Nashville is that over the course of the last 20 years plus, we have as a city successfully invested in our downtown and now it is a thriving downtown where people want to live,” Dean said, adding that he believes the development will make downtown “more attractive for investment” as well.

The mayor put the estimated cost of the project at between $30 and $40 million, but stressed that his administration is not seeking new funds. The Metro Council has approved about $35 million for riverfront redevelopment on the west bank as part of three previous capital spending plans. And last month, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency approved the reallocation of $7.1 million in federal flood relief. The former flood aid will be put toward the construction of the flood wall along the promenade. 

Dean said construction on the east bank will begin this fall. On the west bank, he said final design, which will take a few months, will begin this fall. In the meantime, the city will issue a request for proposals for construction.


And the plans for the east bank landing just north of the Shelby Street pedestrian bridge: