Animosity in Nashville’s Veridian

May 11, 2007

Today’s Wall Street Journal focuses on a generational conflict in Viridian, a condo development catty-cornered from the Nashville Convention Center. The place was marketed to young singles, but has become popular as well with empty nesters and other old timers who can remember when Opryland was actually an amusement park.

That’s where the squabbles begin. According to the article, “And when Viridian opened last October in Nashville, most locals expected the high-rise to draw young buyers looking for a chance to live downtown. It did, but it also attracted people like Julie Lammel, a speech pathologist in her early 50s who moved there from a suburb where most of her neighbors were in her own age group.

“Ms. Lammel says that while the atmosphere at Viridian has been largely cordial, the building has already developed ‘cliques’ and there have been some tensions. Ms. Lammel describes the pool scene, for example, as an ‘animal house.’

“‘One time I went up there and the twentysomethings had the whole place monopolized,’ she recalls, ‘and I thought, Well, not today.’ Ms. Lammel says she and some of her cohorts have a strategy for reclaiming the space, at least temporarily: They’re planning a covered-dish pool party. ‘Anyone is welcome,’ she says in her pleasant Southern drawl. ‘But we’ll see who shows up.'”

All this is too bad. Downtown Nashville–and Knoxville and Chattanooga and Memphis–need both sets of residents: young people who can boost the nightlife and older ones who have the financial firepower to support fine restaurants, museums, and other big-city amenities. The oldsters also bring with them political savvy that they can bring to bear on city officials to make downtowns better. It’s a shame to see the geezers aiming at people who could become their allies.

The Journal piece ends on this ominous note: “At Viridian in Nashville, however, the party may soon be over. An insurgent group of 40- and 50-year-olds is looking to take over the condo board. Among them: Ms. Lammel, who says she intends to propose rules that would put the kibosh on spring break at the pool. ‘I decided I should stop just complaining and do something about it,’ she says.”

What’s that line? Age and cunning will always beat youth and talent.

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