Update: On Thursday, the Friends of the William Edmondson Homesite and Garden said Marquette Companies has reversed course on naming its development’s green space after William Edmondson. The nonprofit also says it’s looking forward to “building a partnership” with the developer to teach them about the artist and the work the group does to preserve his legacy.
A Chicago-based developer recently submitted a zoning application to Metro Nashville for a new mixed-use development at 12th Avenue South and I-40, and some local residents are not happy with the plans.
Marquette Companies has proposed a multi-use development with apartments, shops, an outdoor art and history museum along a raised walkway, and a green space with a theme of William Edmondson, a sculptor who lived and worked in the area in the 1930s. The group is calling their development North Edgehill Commons.
But several community groups have submitted letters to the Metro Planning Commission and Marquette Companies requesting a two-month deferral. The Southside New Hope Neighbors Association and Edgehill Village Neighborhood Association suggest that the development could offer positive additions to the area, but they express concerns over traffic, parking and impacts to the character of the community.
Meanwhile, the Friends of the William Edmondson Homesite and Gardens, a nonprofit that has been trying to build a library, art center and museum near the historical site since 2018, wants the project stalled. It is not opposed to potential development, according to Mark Schlicher, vice president of the nonprofit’s board, but it wants the developer to engage with the community and the family of Edmondson. Schlicher suggests the development’s proposed green space appropriates his legacy.
“This seems like, to a lot of people in the community, a way of grafting William’s name on without doing the deep work of truly engaging with the community, basically to ice the cake or grease the wheels of their zoning application,” Schlicher said. “The family was never contacted by the developer.”
The proposed green space would feature a playground, tree canopy and slabs of limestone. The stones are a reference to historical accounts of neighborhood residents dropping off leftover pieces of limestone to Edmondson’s home for him to create new sculptures, according to Tuck-Hinton Architecture and Design, which created the preliminary site plan for Marquette Companies and described the project as a “sustainable live/work/play district.”
The community groups will voice their concerns to Marquette Companies during a public meeting on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. at the Midtown Hills Police Precinct.