A Davidson County Chancery Court judge has ruled against plaintiffs related to their attempt to stop two high-profile developments planned for downtown’s Rutledge Hill.
Judge Russell Perkins ruled the specific plan rezoning approved by the Metro Planning Commission was appropriately granted. The ruling will allow the two projects — one by Boston-based The Congress Group and the other by Chicago-based Centrum Realty and Development — to move forward.
Plaintiffs Steven Snyder, Andrew Decker and Gregory Breetz contended the planning commission should not have granted the rezoning. The three own condominiums at Rutledge Hill mixed-used building City Lights and, as part of their arguments, said the future towers for the two projects will block their views, thus potentially diminishing their property values.
Perkins ruled the plaintiffs will be required to pay the defendants’ attorney fees. The ruling is subject to appeal.
The ongoing lawsuit dates to early 2022 when — after the planning commission in fall 2021 granted both The Congress Group and Centrum height modifications for their respective projects — the three neighbors sued the developers and Metro, arguing that the process was improper and that Metro lacked the jurisdiction to grant such height modifications. Davidson County Chancellor Anne Martin denied their request to overturn the decision, ruling that the planning commission had the authority to grant overall height modifications under Metro's downtown code.
The plaintiffs appealed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals, which took up oral argument in November but has not issued a decision. The appeal was recently remanded to chancery court to determine whether the subsequent rezoning of the properties to specific plan zoning renders the appeal moot. A decision on that issue is expected in the coming weeks.
Following the plaintiffs’ appeal, the developers applied for, and were awarded, specific plan zoning for each property. The plaintiffs sued again, this time challenging the use of the specific plan zoning. Earlier this year, the chancery court consolidated the plaintiffs' complaints against both The Congress Group and Centrum, with Perkins recently ruling, as noted, in favor of the defendants.
Relatedly, The Congress Group has now landed three permits to allow for demolition of the nondescript buildings on its site. The permits offer a collective valued of $105,000. As planned, the three towers eyed for the site will rise 36, 32 and 18 stories, respectively, and include condos, apartments and hotel rooms via a project to be called 2nd & Peabody (read more here).
With a main address of 521 Second Ave. S., the nine-parcel site offers about 2.08 acres.
Similarly, Centrum plans a 32-story residential building, a 39-floor residential building and a 29-story hotel (read here). The 3.37-acre property sits at 500 Second Ave. S., across the street from the Congress property.
City Lights is located at 20 Rutledge St., across that street from the Centrum property.
The defendants were represented by the local office of Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough.
Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton represented the plaintiffs. The firm could not be reached for comment regarding a possible appeal.