Thursday, March 25, 2010

Open windows in a Margaritaville bar? Preservationists say not in Nashville

Battle lines are being drawn again along Lower Broadway's honky-tonk row — this time between parrot heads and preservationists.
At issue is the look of windows planned for a $10 million Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville Café to be built in the 300 block of Lower Broad. Developers say they want the windows to open to create Buffett's signature Key West, Fla., feel and set the property apart from its down-home and neon country neighbors.

"The real sticking point is our operable storefront windows that can be opened in good weather, and they're a key element of the Margaritaville Cafes," said Mark Bloom, a principal in the Corner Partnership, which owns the three-story building and is paying to develop the beach-themed restaurant.

The Metropolitan Historic Zoning Commission, which governs the look of buildings in the city's historic district, wants a more traditional storefront with glass that doesn't flop open.

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"This is not Key West, this is Nashville. These buildings are part of what makes Nashville unique," said Tim Walker, the commission's executive director.

If the commission doesn't give in, Bloom said his Margaritaville colleagues could walk away.

Walker said he has heard developers threaten to abandon big deals before but doubts this one will end up that way.

"They do make windows that would work within the guidelines; … having windows that open won't make or break a business," he said.

Fans favor cool breezes

Not surprisingly, Buffett fans favor Margaritaville's owners and the cool breezes they imagine enjoying once the restaurant opens.

"It just wouldn't be a Margaritaville without those windows, which are very inviting," said downtown visitor Misty Colclasure, 30, of Hendersonville, who has visited Buffett's New Orleans café in the French Quarter.

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