Funds needed to radically transform an abandoned building in Shelby Park and Bottoms were included in Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s newest $478 million capital spending proposal, announced Thursday.
Two-and-a-half million dollars was requested by District 6 Council Member Brett Withers, who is a vocal supporter of the Friends of Shelby Park and Bottoms. Final budget approval must come from Metro Council.
The friends group in 2021 put together a business proposal to transform the former naval training center into a community asset with retail, dining, restrooms and event space. The total estimated cost of redevelopment is $8.55 million.
“We feel like this is really the domino that is first to fall, and everything else will fall into place,” said Rebecca Ratz, executive director of the Friends of Shelby Park. “We will be working on a more formal campaign now that Metro is on board.”
The building is on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance and unique history. Metro owns the building, but it has sat vacant since 2009. It has incurred damages from flooding, vandalism and years of neglect.
The friends group plans to raise $6 million through private donations, foundation support, sponsors, grants and financing.
According to the business proposal created by the friends group, a full-serve restaurant could offer food and beverage options for visitors to the park.
The large front atrium could host public and private events.
Renderings show picnic tables dotted along a paved terrace in the rear of the building, now overgrown with trees and bushes.
An outdoor equipment retail store could offer kayaks, canoes or disc golf rentals.
“It really is set up in a beautiful way to be a community building,” project architect Tracey Ford said. “It’s like it has been waiting there for us to bring it back to life.”