There's a lot to love in the area. I'm not kidding, though it may be difficult from time to time to see, because, well, there are A LOT of used tire shops in the area. Some of them in former banks, which is very architecturally incongruent when you can see the tires piled to the ceiling beyond the beautiful glass store front and the columns lining the sidewalk. But hey. You can't lose with architectural columns.
As well, there's no shortage of used car lots ("BUY HERE, PAY HERE!!!!!" "WORLD'S FIRST DRIVE THRU USED CAR LOT!!!!"). And there are plenty of title loan stores and instant cash places. And pawn shops. Plenty.
Beyond these questionable aspects are the cool things. Like the FIRST EVER Krispy Kreme donut shop. Some might want to firebomb the place for having turned donut-making into a Henry Ford assembly line, thus ruining the art of the donut. Not me. Of course...others.
But since we're on the subject, I prefer REAL donuts, like those you can get at The Donut Den in the Green Hills area of Nashville (aka, the RICH AREA). Once in a while a Krispy Kreme donut is OK. Like when they're right off the assembly line. They have that new car smell.
Anyway, there's also La Hacienda, which serves the BEST Mexican food in Nashville. I'm not lying. There's a tortilla factory out back too. I've written about this stuff before, I think, so I'll spare you.
In any case, there's a lot to love. And lots of people are saying (or were saying, anyway) that this area was gentrifying. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But I'll tell you one thing that's really not helping.
The idiots who want to "save our fairgrounds."
Let me get this straight. These people would choose to KEEP a pile of crap Pinto rather than trade it in for a Mercedes? Essentially that's what they're saying.
You know what MIGHT happen if we got rid of those stupid fairgrounds? That piece o' shee (to quote my sister) tire recapping shop, whose lot looks like a biohazard (I swear sometimes I think, "I'm seriously going to call OSHA." I don't even know if OSHA cares about stuff like that, but this Dumpster looks like a nuclear waste site at the end of the day, every day), might actually GET LOST because it sucks so bad, and without the lame race track at the fairgrounds, I'm pretty sure the dude who runs the shop will want to move it closer to...um...where-ever they need a tire recapping shop.
And if we got rid of the nasty fairgrounds, perhaps then some PRODUCTIVE businesses might decide to move in. And maybe property values would increase. Yeah, I know that would increase property taxes, but at least south Nashville wouldn't look like Germany after WWII, for once.
Honestly, I don't know what it is about the fairgrounds that this part of the city would resist the change. It would be an upgrade.
Is the flea-market seriously THAT important to the economy of South Nashville? Is it? Because, you know, the flea-market wouldn't have to die should the fairgrounds disappear. If the flea-market is so necessary and important and beloved, it will survive. It might have to move, but it would survive.
Same with the teeny-bopper races or derby or whatever it is that sounds like a swarm of bees during summer nights.
And, Tennessee, I hate to tell you, but the state fair is kind of crappy. One would think that a state with such a long history (in terms of U.S. history) and so much agriculture would have one of the largest, most kick-butt state fairs in the Union. It should be as wicked-awesome as a musical, like State Fair (that musical has an awesome state fair in it, doesn't it? I've never actually seen it. But with a name like State Fair.....), with people driving all the way from Knoxville just to get a look at the best pig in show. And all that. You would think!
But no. I went to the state fair last year and it was the most dismal affair ever. It was weak. If it was going to wrestle (Greco-Roman style), it would be in the lightest weight class. Like 110, if that. I know. That's like junior high weight. That's how pitiful the Tennessee State Fair is compared to other state fairs.
What fairs am I comparing it to? Well.
I'm from Utah, as you've probably noticed. When I have gone to the state fair in Utah, there was so much to see and do that I couldn't get to all of it in one night. The Tennessee State Fair? Yeah, it took me a half-hour, if that, to see what there was to offer.
Unfortunately, this map doesn't show topographical changes. If it did, you'd just stay home. It does, however, show how small the event is. The gray stuff is parking.
Plus, it's on a dang hill. Several rolling hills, really. So you walk up a huge hill to the two ticket booths (that's all they need--two ticket booths), pay, and walk up more hill, to the six rides. Then you walk past those to the tiny building where canned things are and the displays about honey and whatnot. There's also a little building for the kitschy, fun things, but there are only like five booths there. Beyond that is a children's play-house size building for the farm animal things. Next door to that there are three rides for the kiddies.
I exaggerate. But only by a fraction. It feels more like a tiny county fair. It really is the smallest state fair in the world. I bet Rhode Island has a bigger state fair.
So, you might be thinking, well heck, what about the gun shows? Yeah, what about them? I've gone to the gun show at the fairground twice and both times it was crap. The actual gun show could be hosted in a banquet hall. I'm sure there's a better venue for the gun show. And, if it's so economically fantastic for gun shop owners, it won't die. It will just move. That's how these things work.
Saving a tired, worn out, ugly site for the mere sake of saving it stunts changes that could be much better for the city and its residents economically. Especially when you consider what a large swath of land the fairground consume just by its mere existence. And for the larger part of the year, that land sits there empty, looking like an eye-sore.
I don't really understand why many of the residents around the fairgrounds are so eager to "save" it. I can only guess. And my guess is that they lack vision.
I wish I could go talk to Karl Dean and tell him, "Don't give up, man. Rip those hideous fairgrounds out and put in a park, a shopping center, ANYTHING. Anything would be better."
Maybe if they can move the state fair to a better location (read, not on a couple of mucky hills), the fair can improve. And compete with the awesome Utah State Fair*.
And finally, to demonstrate the stunted thinking of people around Nashville, I refer you to this site that features this quote:
How do I feel personally about the closing of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds? Well, if you don't already know by now, I think it stinks. This wonderful ole place, one that has given Nashvillians so many great memories, family fun, and plenty of racing history is about to be wiped away in the name of progress. To me, progress would be to improve on the existing property in a way that would also preserve its historical value as well as incorporate and blend with the local neighborhood.I would wager that Jan Duke doesn't live in south Nashville, near the fairgrounds. Though I might be surprised, since there are plenty of backward thinking fools in the neighborhood sporting "save our fairgrounds" signs. Anyway, it's nice of Jan to give us her opinion. Maybe she can come live next to the fairgrounds, if she doesn't already, so she can reap all the blessings of the important racing history, with all its joyful sounds.
p.s. The "local neighborhood" has largely been stunted by the presence of the fairgrounds. So, in addition to the few homes in the area, there's the Coke bottling plant, several industrial type complexes, dismal and run-down looking liquor stores, a plot of land that seems to store rail-cars, and a mobile home park (that was wiped out during the flooding last year). So, yeah, let's BLEND the fairgrounds with the neighborhood. Real great idea, Jan.
*Lest you think I'm simply full of home-state pride, my friend from Kentucky said the Kentucky State Fair is also a million times better than the TN State Fair.