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No. 672: Rents coming down?
Photo by chris robert / Unsplash

No. 672: Rents coming down?

🏘️ Is rent decreasing · Latest on the fairgrounds speedway · Mark Green changes his mind · Much more!

Good afternoon, everyone.

Interesting article in the Tennessean yesterday about rental vacancy rates in Nashville. According to the research firm Zumper, the current 10.8% vacancy rate is the highest it's been in 20 years. Rent increased 14.6% and 20.8% in 2022 and 2023 respectively, but one-bedroom rents are down 4% compared to last year.

With 22,000 units under construction and generous concessions offered by apartments to attract tenants indicating that construction is outpacing demand, naturally, prices will come down.

Kind of a dry way to start today's newsletter, but it's hard for me to reconcile information like this with the progressive hysteria around Nashville's real housing crisis.

Below, Megan looks at another plot of land that progressives in the city are trying to turn into an apartment complex: the fairgrounds speedway.




From Megan Podsiedlik

On January 31st, Kenny Byrd, a local attorney, and Heidi Basgall, an assistant to the dean of Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music, submitted a form for a petition to Metro that, among other things, would establish the use of the Nashville Fairgrounds as a site for affordable housing, rather than auto racing. Last week, the petition was rejected. 

According to Metro’s Charter Revision Commission, the proposed petition did not comply with the requirements of the charter. This concurs with Metro Legal’s analysis, which found it wasn’t submitted in the correct form. That being said, the decision does not reflect a rejection of the contents of the petition: commission members merely review whether a petition is properly formatted in accordance with the parameters outlined by the city’s charter. 

Undeterred by this setback, Byrd and Basgall plan to resubmit a petition with the proper changes made before a meeting set to be held on March 11th. It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time the two have partnered up to push back against a speedway at the fairgrounds. It’s also worth noting that, if the proposal is approved next month, signatures from ten percent of all registered voters in Davidson County would need to be collected within 90 days. In other words, the petition would need about 49,600 signatures by June 29, 2024.

Mayor O’Connell weighed in on the proposed petition during Friday’s media roundtable: “I grew up in Nashville with a speedway and appreciate the speedway,” he said. “I know there's a lot of strength of feeling in the world out there about it. And I think…we have to see, one: will there be enough signatures to get this on a ballot? And then, how voters respond to that. I think…those two steps are going to indicate any parameters of a potential deal for the fairgrounds.”

In essence, he indicated that it’s ultimately up to Nashvillians. The mayor’s hesitancy to back the petition comes as no surprise given contentions surrounding the push to invite NASCAR back to the track, the historical significance of the fairgrounds, noise concerns, the potential competition between the racetrack and the new soccer stadium… the list goes on. With his transit referendum also on the line, O’Connell may find the petition a threat to his own initiatives depending on the pushback and coordinated campaigning that may occur if both were on the ballot in November.


Last fall, after having to extend the time frame for online voting, the city’s participatory budgeting process concluded— and it was a disaster. Despite allowing teenagers and non-citizens to weigh in on the allocation of $10 million in APRA funding, the ballot count was dismal, with only 13,365 votes cast.

In December, the Pamphleteer asked Mayor O’Connell whether his administration would support a similar process in the future. “I expect if it does go forward, it will be revised pretty significantly,” the mayor answered. “We're not seeing— even with hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing— we are not seeing particularly heavy voting rates on participatory budgeting.”

At last Friday’s roundtable, we asked for an update: “A few weeks ago, I know they were starting to work on the ballot counting process,” O’Connell responded. “And so I think for all of the projects selected, there's got to be a validation of ‘Hey, do these conform to the American Rescue Plan Act provisions?’ Metro Finance is working on that….I have not seen the final list of selected projects and what got voted on, but we do expect to be able to release both the votes and the validation process very soon.”

Given that the process underperformed, it’s no surprise that Metro Finance is double checking the work put into it. You may recall that the Steering Committee, established to oversee the initiative, was supposed to make sure everything adhered to ARPA regulations before they made up the ballot. The funding must be spent by December 31, 2024. Hopefully they’ll figure it out before the sun sets on this $600,000 debacle.


Rep. Mark Green reconsidering decision to retire (The Hill) House Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green is “seriously reconsidering” his decision to retire, less than two weeks after announcing he would not seek reelection to Congress. Green announced his decision to retire on Feb. 14, after he led the successful effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

New Mismanagement Claims Imperil Metro Arts Budget (Banner) Metro Finance Director Kevin Crumbo revealed on Monday that $2 million earmarked for Nashville arts organizations are in jeopardy due to the mismanagement of the department budget.

Tennessee House passes bill barring local councils from returning expelled lawmakers (Lookout) Lawmakers voted 69-22 in favor of House Bill 2716, which would prohibit local legislative bodies from returning former members to office after expulsion.

TN Democrats renew call for Education Commissioner to resign over residency questions (WKRN) Rep. Caleb Hemmer (D-Nashville) revealed Monday that Reynolds’s primary residence was not in Tennessee but in Texas – where she came from – despite starting as the commissioner last July.


  • Renderings Revealed For Mid City, The Former Beaman Site In Nashville (Now Next)
  • Choice lane project approved for I-24 between Nashville, Murfreesboro (Post)
  • Plans advance for second tower eyed at Gulch project site (Post)
  • Historic downtown building listed for sale (Post)
  • Friends in Low Places to Open in March (Scene)


View our calendar for the week here and our weekly film rundown here.

📅 Visit our On The Radar list to find upcoming events around Nashville.

🎧 On Spotify: Pamphleteer's Picks, a playlist of our favorite bands in town this week.

👨🏻‍🌾 Check out our Nashville farmer's market guide.


🎻 Yo-Yo Ma with the Nashville Symphony @ Schermerhorn Symphony Center, 7:30p, Info

🎺 Todd Day Wait @ The Underdog, 11:30p, Free, Info‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌
+ Honky Tonk Tuesday afterparty, down the street

🎸 Honky Tonk Tuesday @ American Legion Post 82, 5p, Free, Info‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌
+ two-step lessons @ 7p, The Cowpokes @ 8p

In case you missed it...

📰 Check out the full newsletter archive here.

No. 671: Just Look at the Numbers
📅 Today, Davis talks about making numbers go up, Miles explains the NCAA vs. UT case, and Megan looks at what’s behind Vision Zero.
No. 670: Off for the Weekend
📅 Today, Davis preps you, Jerod reviews May December, and Megan looks at a bill addressing juvenile crime and the governor’s proposed budget.
No. 669: Justin Jones’ Endless Summer
🌴 Rep. Jones’ long vacation from divinity school, a look at the upcoming school board races, a Nashvillian on Shark Tank, and much more!
No. 668: Density, Density, Density
🗺️ Density Galore, Derrick Henry’s legacy, Nolensville Town Square, and much more!
No. 667: Justin Jones is bad at his job
🗓️ Today, we catch up on the weekend, look at how good Justin Jones is at his job, and get you prepped for the presidential primary election.


  • 📰 May December takes aim at Hollywood exploitation and the public’s impulses that enable it. (Read)
  • 🇸🇻 President Nayib Bukele’s historic transformation of El Salvador (Read)
  • ☢️ A small Tennessee town's forgotten history as a nuclear leader (Read)
  • 🤡 Metro Arts launches initiative to 'return land, money, and resources' to 'Indigenous, African, and Asian peoples' (Read)
  • And check out our podcast, YouTube, and article archive for more.