Nashville can now move forward with the city plan of buy the abandoned Hickory Hollow Mall of Antioch and transform the property into a community center and medical center.
The Metro Board voted 28-3 with four abstentions on Tuesday to approve deals allowing the city to buy two parts of the site for a total of $44 million. The board also approved up to $46 million in general obligations to cover the purchase and a $2 million contingency.
But support for the deal was far from unanimous.
Several board members who abstained or voted against the deal cited incomplete cost estimates for the full construction of the project and the lack of a legally binding agreement with Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which pledged to rent part of the site under a lease that has not yet been concluded. be negotiated.
Mayor John Cooper announced the project alongside council member Joy Styles on March 23. Cooper said he hoped that with VUMC’s lease, the deal would be “essentially self-funding for the city,” but recently released documents show that may only cover debt service. for CUVC space rentals.
Styles said the purchase of the mall would provide much-needed investment in southeast Nashville, providing additional access to health care, jobs and food sources in addition to an Antioch Performing Arts Center. Metro ownership would also give the city and its residents authority over the use of the property.
The mall was renamed Global Mall in 2013, but the space languished for years after a series of private investments failed. The property’s current tenants include Nashville State Community College, the Nashville Predators’ Ford Ice Center, the Southeast Community Center, and the Southeast Branch of the Nashville Public Library.
General Council member Bob Mendes said he voted against the project because it was “not fully cooked”.
“Councillor Cooper, when he was here, there’s no way he voted for this because he’s been charged with an unknown cost,” Mendes said Tuesday.
Cooper’s State of the Metro address will take place at the Southeast Community Center on April 27.
What Metro buys
Tuesday’s approvals allow Metro to assume purchase contract options for two components of the mall site: the 650,000 square foot mall and the 160,000 square foot former Bridgestone building.
Under the first agreement with Public Square LLC, Metro can assume Public Square’s option to purchase the center portion of the mall for $24 million.
Under the second agreement, Metro will pay up to $150,000 to the Joe C. Davis Foundation for the option to purchase the Bridgestone building, in addition to $19.9 million for the property itself.
Several board members bristled at the deal’s accelerated timeline and unanswered questions about the project’s true costs and risks.
Cooper administration officials pointed to the terms of the agreement to purchase the Public Square mall: the closing date of this agreement can be extended twice, but it would cost $250,000 per extension, and the agreement as written would expire after June 28. The Bridgestone construction agreement is valid until June. 20.
Metro documents confirm that the purchase price for the two assets will be around $44 million, but the associated costs are unclear.
VUMC has signed a non-binding letter of intent with the city indicating its desire to lease the mall’s central building and cover renovation costs.
Documents provided to council members indicate that the Bridgestone building – which would not be leased to VUMC – could cost between $6 million and $13 million to “stabilize” and build. Its annual operating costs could total about $7.6 million.
Although VUMC’s lease payments would cover debt service for its space, this may not extend to Metro’s old Bridgestone building, leaving the city responsible for servicing the building’s debt.
Metro is also responsible for parking the site, the cost of which is estimated at $5 million. Cooper’s Newest investment plan included $5.025 million under the “World Mall Master Plan and Implementation” for parking, in addition to $1 million for “infrastructure coordination” at the site.
This does not include cost estimates for additional surrounding infrastructure.
General Council member Zulfat Suara was initially against the deal but eventually voted for it because she considers borrowing money to secure assets with lasting use and value to be “good debt”. While details of the deal are unfinished, she said it’s about whether Metro trusts VUMC.
“If we don’t own this property…we would have to rent to whoever the owner is, or we might not even have the ability to use part of it,” Suara said.
Distribution of votes
Contact reporter Cassandra Stephenson at [email protected] or (731) 694-7261. Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CStephenson731.