Several businesses along Printer’s Alley are being kicked out to make way for a boutique hotel. One resident’s attempt to organize the downtown community against the redevelopment has picked up momentum.
The new owners, including developer Bill Barkley and financial backers Alex Marks and Billy Frist, plan to renovate the old building but displace the tenants, which include Lonnie’s Western Room, Fiddle and Steel Guitar Bar and others.
Kim Brooks, who lives in Hendersonville and works as a spokeswoman for Servpro Industries, says she has many indelible memories from Printer’s Alley. She’s been spending time in the bars there for a decade, and half of that time she worked off and on at Fiddle and Steel as a bartender.
“I actually met my husband there,” Brooks said. “He proposed to me there.”
When Brooks caught wind of the redevelopment plans, she put up the “Save Printer’s Alley” Facebook page, which has garnered more than 7,500 supporters in two days.
“It seems like Nashville is slowly chipping away at what has made Nashville the ‘it’ city that it is and has given it so much personality,” Brooks said. “If we can somehow get a message to these investors, to let them know, that this is not just a building to Nashville — it means so much more to so many people.”
Brooks is hanging up supportive banners and starting to organize meetings with business owners and other residents wanting to hang on to the unique grit of Printer’s Alley. She’s now figuring out how to leverage Facebook “likes” into meaningful pushback.
“We’re not trying to be confrontational about things, but we’re trying to show our support,” Brooks said. “We’ve had people from Australia and Norway respond to us. It really speaks to what the area means to so many people.”
Meanwhile, the developers are pushing ahead with their plans. Because the old building, built in the 1890s, was originally a hotel, it doesn’t need to be rezoned, so there will not be any public hearings on the redevelopment, according to planning officials.
Jay Sheridan, a spokesman for Alex Marks, one of the financial backers of the new hotel, would not comment beyond this statement:
“We’re always looking for opportunities that improve and preserve Nashville. A number of projects are being evaluated, but we are not prepared to release any information at this time.”