Nashville Tunes Up for Business and Pleasure
March 15, 2013
Nashville has long been an iconic American city, earning its “Music City” nickname from the long rise of country music and becoming a major recording and industry hub for many genres. From Roy Acuff and Patsy Cline to Kings of Leon and Taylor Swift, pretty much every country music star recorded here, but so have the likes of Bob Dylan, Elvis, Robert Plant, REM, Neil Young and the Rolling Stones.
With the ABC network television drama series Nashville throwing a spotlight on the destination in prime time, awareness is high for this dynamic, mid-sized city. It hosted around 11 million visitors in 2012 — more than a lot of countries — and that number should rise with all the new business developments happening this year.
Lately, this Tennessee city has become a hub for its cuisine as well. In-the-know visitors have always raved about the hot chicken, meat-and-three Southern dinners and barbecue. Now Nashville finds itself in the culinary spotlight, called out as a center of “haute Southern” cuisine based on local farm ingredients and revamped versions of traditional recipes. The “Buckle of the Bible Belt” is now also the buckle of a foodie belt stretching to Charleston.
Fittingly, perhaps, the new restaurant with the biggest advance buzz is Husk Nashville, from James Beard award-winning chef Sean Brock of Charleston. Housed in an 1895 building on the National Registry of Historic Homes, it will overlook downtown when it opens this month.
Construction concludes in May on the new Music City Center, a complex comprising a $585 million convention center and several hotels opening in stages. With a 350,000-square-foot exhibit hall and a 57,000-square-foot grand ballroom, it’s big enough to host all but the largest 25 percent of U.S. conventions. It’s a building for the future, on track to be certified Silver Level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) by the U.S. Green Building Council. Run-off water is stored to flush toilets and irrigate landscaping, plus the roof will host an acre of solar panels over the ballroom and surrounding plants to absorb heat. The convention center will also be home to the street-facing Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
This is not your usual bleak convention box located in an inconvenient area on the edge of town. It’s right in the center of Nashville, next to the Country Music Hall of Fame and blocks from an NHL hockey arena, Riverfront Park and the famous honky-tonk live music district of Lower Broadway. Without getting in a car, anyone staying downtown can walk to the Ryman Auditorium — home of the original Grand Ole Opry — or go upscale with a concert at the symphony hall. You can eat well nearby, too, whether that’s pulled pork and a longneck beer at Jack’s Bar-B-Que or moulard duck and truffle mac and cheese at Capitol Grille in the historic Hermitage Hotel.
In contrast to many convention centers, it’s also designed to be welcoming when no meetings are scheduled. A wide green pavilion circles the building, inviting foot traffic and serving as public space for art and music...
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