Several historic commercial buildings downtown receive Metro grants to survive

David Smith
Staff Writer
The historic farm supply building in downtown Nashville was built beside the Cumberland River in 1890 as a three-story grocery store and buggy business and has served many different business pursuits in its 130-year life.
One hundred years after it went from grocery to soda works, to baking powder company, to farm supply store    the iconic structure at 101 Broadway entered the buggy business for a brief number of years. Between 1890 and 1943, the building built by   J.R. Whitemore housed many notable businesses. According to research done by McWatters and his class, Frederick and William Cummins moved their grocery store to the building in 1890, becoming its first tenants. William Cummins later headed an investment group that built Nashville’s first reinforced concrete building, which still bears the name Cummins Station.
A Middle Tennessee State University history professor, who in 1998 painstakingly researched and applied for       a grant to refurbish aged aspects of the 22,500-square-foot space, and that saved the aging piece of downtown’s past, and she got it listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“Office of Economic and Community Development   and the Metro Historical Commission (MHC) are requesting proposals from owners of historic commercial buildings wanting to rehabilitate structures,” said Tim Walker, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Historical Commission. The commission is looking for commercial properties within historic districts that contribute to the architectural character of the district.
The Metro Council approved $150,000 in the fiscal year of 2017 to 2018 as the budget for the program.
“Historic preservation has long since proven to be a successful tool for sustainable economic and community development,” said Walker. “This commercial grant program represents the nexus of cultural heritage preservation, economic development, and architectural conservation, acting as an incentive that encourages the re-use of Nashville’s historic commercial buildings.”
They have also required at least 65 percent of households in the district be at or below 80 percent of the area’s median income.
HonkyTonks_11-9-2017“As Nashville grows, we have the need to be very deliberate about protecting and preserving the rich history of our historic buildings, which tell the story of our city,” said Mayor Barry. “These historic commercial rehabilitation grants will assist local business owners with making much needed repairs and revitalizing the essence of their historic building’s character. Funds will not only provide needed financial support to applicants, but will also help ensure that Nashville’s diverse architectural heritage is preserved.”
According to the mayor’s office, the city intends to make multiple awards. Special consideration will be given to building owners that operate  or lease space for a local small business.
For more information on this grant program and for a copy of the RFP, please visit nashville.gov/Mayors-Office/ Economic-and-Community-Development/ Incentives. aspx
Proposals are due December 31.