African-American Music Museum Gets Top Billing At Downtown Nashville Groundbreaking

Apr 18, 2017

Construction has begun on what will become downtown Nashville’s largest mixed-use development. Known as “Fifth + Broadway,” the 32-story project replaces the old convention center.

The plans have drawn some controversy, and those were acknowledged at the groundbreaking on Tuesday.

The last round of attention for the proposal was when a dispute arose over its design, and whether one of the ground-floor anchors — the National Museum of African-American Music (NMAAM)— would have an entrance and presence facing Broadway, the city’s most iconic street for tourists.

Prominence has been a question, as a staggering amount of space is planned for retail, entertainment, offices, residences, and a hotel. Among the specs for the $430-million development:

  • 235,000 square feet of retail and entertainment;
  • 385,000 square feet of office space accessible at 501 Commerce;
  • 350 apartments, and;
  • 2,000 parking spaces.

While all of that was touted, along with economic impact projections, a hefty portion of the groundbreaking ceremony focused on the museum. San Diego-based developer Dene Oliver said that component is the “heart” of the project — and always has been.

“There has never been a time, in looking at the planning, that we haven’t thought carefully about what is best for the museum and what it’s going to take for it to be successful,” he said.

Oliver said that will now include a museum entrance on Broadway and a facade on 5th Avenue, facing the Ryman Auditorium.

Several leaders aimed high in their descriptions of what they plan to see as a “national class” and even “world class” museum. The event even included a performance by Rashad the Poet, who shared an original composition about the development — looking toward a future that also honors the past.

“Neighbors that look up to 32 stories
While understanding past glories
Up above my head I hear music in the air
There must be a museum somewhere
Right here … ”