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The Nashville zoo would like a city-funded parking garage

Nashville Zoo Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

More than the previous 24 a long time, visitors have flocked to the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere to pet the kangaroos, stand within just a number of toes of an Andean bear or play on the city’s very best jungle gym.

  • The zoo has come to be a person of Nashville’s top vacationer magnets and has received field awards for inventive exhibits and money management.
  • To support gasoline extra expansion, Nashville Mayor John Cooper has proposed $15 million toward a new parking garage, but the strategy has received considerable pushback in the Metro Council.

Why it issues: Zoo president and CEO Rick Schwartz tells Axios the new parking garage is the lynchpin of its formidable $185 million expansion that will involve a initially-of-its-form African river safari in which visitors will board a boat to float among animals.

  • Continued advancement is impossible without the new 1,044-space parking framework, Schwartz claims. And the zoo’s designs for a fundraising marketing campaign to support finance its expansion depend on the garage currently being constructed.

Context: As Nashville grapples with its tourism popularity, the family members-pleasant zoo in south Nashville presents an choice wholly unbiased from light beer and George Strait handles.

  • Between 2009 and 2019, the zoo’s attendance much more than doubled from 615,086 to above 1.2 million site visitors, extra than the merged attendance at Predators and Titans property online games in 2019. Attendance dropped to 544,000 last year amidst the pandemic.
  • Schwartz tells Axios they hope 2 million website visitors per year by 2027.
  • The zoo hasn’t gained Metro funding given that Mayor Karl Dean dedicated a combined $26 million in infrastructure projects for the duration of his eight a long time in business, which ended in 2015.

What he is expressing: On the zoo’s busiest times, autos overwhelm its latest parking a lot. It really is not uncommon for website traffic jams to cram up active Nolensville Pike.

  • “Without having this parking garage we are not able to only not develop, we are not able to maintain what we are performing now,” Schwartz claims.

The other aspect: Some Metro Council associates, led by Freddie O’Connell, questioned the substantial money determination for zoo parking.

  • O’Connell tells Axios he is “very pro-zoo.” But he states he is “aghast” that Metro isn’t expending much more on bike lanes, sidewalks and bus routes.
  • He submitted an amendment to reroute the resources Cooper earmarked for zoo parking to as a substitute be put in on those people modes of transportation.
  • A opportunity compromise would include $15 million to the capital spending program for those priorities although preserving the zoo parking funding.


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