A local, historic preservationist nonprofit announced Wednesday that Amazon will invest $50,000 in downtown Nashville’s Church Street Park as part of a revitalization project.
The Historic Capitol Corridor Foundation, established in 2019, originally initiated revitalization efforts at the beginning of the quarantine last year with a $465,000 contribution to the Metro Parks and Recreation Department to launch a six-week pilot project over the summer. The initiative has been approved to proceed with aesthetic improvements, maintenance, programming and security, which are the focal points of Amazon’s funding.
“It is amazing to see Church Street Park completely rejuvenated. After renovations were unveiled this summer, it’s great to see our community gathering here and enjoying this vital public space,” said Courtney Ross, senior external affairs manager for Amazon in Nashville. “We’re committed to ensuring this space stays beautiful for years to come, and glad to support the continued maintenance of the park and programming for our neighbors here in Nashville.”
Amazon's new towers (one is under construction) at Nashville Yards are located down the street from the park.
Mayor John Cooper — one of the most vocal opponents as a councilmember of an earlier proposal to build a tower on the property — buttressed the HCCF’s efforts on behalf of Church Street Park with a commitment to get approval for the project from Metro Council in June so that the overhaul would be complete in time for the centennial celebration of Tennessee’s contribution to the passage of the 19th Amendment in August 2020. By then, though, little had been done to actually revitalize the park, and the HCCF told the Post the work would be complete by October instead.
Some homelessness advocates also argued that the revitalization effort pushed residents out of the space without a plan for their relocation.
In November 2020 — when the park was still fenced off and about half of the original contribution was already spent on irrigation, planters and staff — an HCCF spokesperson said the job would be done by March 2021. Foundation representatives claimed the pandemic was the primary obstacle, though Metro Councilmember Freddie O’Connell, in whose District 19 the green space sits, pointed out that it was not rational to launch the project after the quarantine was in effect if they could not see it through because of it. At the time, O’Connell advocated for a more thorough public engagement process.
Ann Butterworth, HCCF president and chairwoman, said at the time that downtown employees working remotely meant few people would actually be walking by the park, however.
“We are grateful to Amazon for this generous gift and for seeing the value that Church Street Park brings to our city as one of the only green spaces in the heart of downtown,” Butterworth now says via a press release. “It is a vibrant place for people to visit who live, work and enjoy downtown.”
Now thirteen months into the project, Metro Parks has clearly extended its partnership with HCCF beyond what was initially expected when it fielded ideas from local developers and groups about what else could be done with the park.
“We appreciate our ongoing partnership with Metro Parks, the Park Board, Councilman Freddie O’Connell, the mayor’s office, and the numerous stakeholders and partners who are making the park such a great public space,” Butterworth added. “We are excited to welcome supporters, such as Amazon, and look forward to continued momentum.”
The HCCF established its seven-member board of directors in June 2019 when the Metro Historical Commission published an analysis on the impacts of historic preservation, which led Metro General Services to grade a plethora of historic properties and artwork like the art-deco Davidson County Courthouse’s exterior mural.