The CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties now says he was never on board for Nashville’s $9 billion light-rail plan, which went off the tracks at a May 1 referendum, the Nashville Business Journal said.
The transit proposal came to a crashing halt after voters defeated it by 64-34 percent on May 1, The Tennessee Star reported at the time.
Business supporters included McNeely Piggot & Fox, which handled the failed plan’s PR, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Nashville Predators.
Now, the Nashville Business Journal says Colin Reed, CEO of Ryman Hospitality Properties, had some misgivings.
“I had some of the same concerns that the ‘antis’ had,” the Nashville Business Journal quotes him as saying. “The notion of tearing up the middle of Broadway for an extended period of time, building a tunnel underneath and bringing it up somewhere on Broadway, concerned the living daylights out of me. Building rail lines in the middle of highways concerns the life out of me. This was a huge amount of money. What we have to fix is morning-time rush hour and evening-time rush hour. That’s where our problems reside here. I felt like this whole evolution we’re seeing with self-driving cars, self-driving busses, that sort of seemed to me to be silent in the plan.”
The transit system’s downtown tunnels would have run under Fifth Avenue North and partially under the historic Ryman Auditorium. Ryman also owns Wildhorse Saloon and Ole Red downtown.
Reed said his position is not because of the company’s business holdings.
“The fact of the matter is, downtown Nashville gets choked the way it is today, with the pedal taverns and the tractors. Can you imagine the amount of dump trucks that would be required to build a massive, great, multistory [tunnel]?”
The publication interviewed Reed after he had made remarks while giving Metro Council members a tour of the $90 million waterpark his company is building at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, the Nashville Business Journal said.
Metro Council gave Ryman a $13.8 million tax incentive in May 2017 for the waterpark, The Tennessean reported.
The council voted 30-6 with four abstentions to approve keeping Opryland’s property tax payments flat through 2025 after last year’s reappraisal, among other components of the deal. That meant Metro would not receive about $1.63 million in annual property taxes the city would typically collect from the water park, the newspaper said.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.