NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Downtown Nashville is literally a construction zone. Everywhere you look there are construction sites, cranes and new buildings rising.
The substantial growth downtown is representative of the growth that’s happening all over the city.
In 1965, 780,000 people lived in Nashville and the surrounding seven counties. By 2035, that number is expected to surpass 2.6 million residents as Nashville and Middle Tennessee sees historic growth.
News 2 sat down with Nashville Mayor Megan Barry to discuss the current growth and asked is it citizens, developers or elected officials who decides where this growth goes over the next decade or so.
“Well, I think all of these people and entities have voices,” she said. “I think at the end of the day though, a lot of this community engagement happens, but you have to take conversation to action and I think that is absolutely the responsibility of the mayor to sat this is the vision, this is where we need to go and this is how we are going to get there.”
Mayor Barry says 20 years ago it was forward thinkers who envisioned the Music City Center exactly where it ended up being built. So, what are Mayor Barry’s thoughts for 10 years from now?
“Transit. So much of this is about mobility and about being able to get around and when I say that I don’t just mean things that run on wheels – I mean bikes, I mean pedestrians and that transit infrastructure is really important to Nashville’s overall success,” she said.
While new people, new businesses and new opportunities all go along with growth, it also means more congestion, more traffic and more crime.
When asked if the positives of growth outweigh the negatives, Mayor Barry said, “I think so. You know, I think about how Nashville is going to grow and change over the next 10, 15, 20 years. We are going to be a minority majority city soon. We are already seeing that reflected in the fact that we have 120 plus languages in our schools, and so focusing on making sure those kids are multi-lingual, English proficient, but not losing that first language is going to make us a global economy.”
As growth continues to change Nashville’s skyline, it is also changing neighborhoods and it is making Music City a more expensive place to call home for many who have lived here for decades.
“Well, we worry about that too,” the mayor said. “So, one of the things that we’ve done through our Barnes Fund initiative is to actually allocate dollars to seniors and low income families to stay in their home by helping with repairs because we don’t want folks to leave either. It is so much better for Nashville to keep that diversity.”
And as Nashville continues to grow, there are certain things the mayor hopes Nashvillians don’t lose sight of.
“I want us to stay warm and welcoming. I think that is the base line – everybody to feel safe and be safe in their neighborhoods. I want us to make sure we continue to grow with a purpose and intention and maintain that affordability and what you said earlier that Nashville kind of life where people come here and they feel included and that access to all these opportunities are equitable all across our county,” Mayor Barry said.