Updated with statements from Avenue Diner's Steve Smith
The Design Review Committee of the Metropolitan Housing and Development Agency will hold a hearing Tuesday morning related to ongoing construction of Avenue Diner, a controversial four-story project to be located at the southeast corner of the Demonbreun Street and Third Avenue intersection that drew scrutiny in June when MDHA alleged the project violated the conditions of its building permit.
The developers — which include the owners of Lower Broad fixtures Tootsie's, Rippy's and Honky Tonk Central — took an existing masonry building to its foundation. On June 12, Metro Zoning Administrator Bill Herbert wrote to the group's attorney, Ron Pursell, saying that the project was approved with the condition that more than 50 percent of the then-existing structure would remain intact. The project's developers then appealed to the Board of Zoning Appeals, rather than the design review committee. BOZA did not take up the matter at its most recent meeting and Metro Codes eventually issued a stop-work order. Tomorrow, the Avenue Diner team will seek the necessary variances to continue work.
Meanwhile, developer Tony Giarratana, who owns the adjacent parcel and has been opposed to Avenue Diner's development, held a "Sound Awareness Concert" midday Monday, presumably to demonstrate the effect of an all-night honky-tonk on SoBro. Below a banner reading "Keep the Honky Tonks On Broadway," powerful speakers thumped music into the August afternoon.
Pursell did not return a request for comment Monday but Tootsie's proprietor Steve Smith distributed a statement in the afternoon insisting that Avenue Diner will not be a live music venue and that its multi-story layout is required because of the small lot size.
"I have been very fortunate to bring Nashville some of the best known honky tonks around the country. Now, I am going to bring a diner to downtown, so everyone has a place to go after their late night activities," Smith said. "There will be no live entertainment or stages in the diner, making it a place for people to enjoy good conversation with a good meal."
In his own release, Giarratana said he is not only concerned about noise and quality of life in the area, but also the ability of Metro to go forward with promised sidewalk widenings and the straightening of Demonbreun with the multi-story diner project in place.
"It seems inappropriate for construction of this project to be allowed to proceed in violation of the DTC," Giarratana wrote in June in reference to the Downtown Code. "If so, it may cause my partners and me to reconsider whether to comply" with plans to slightly move Giarratana projects SoBro and Sheet Music to accommodate infrastructure plans.
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