Sulphur Dell

Nashville, Tennessee

Just north of downtown Nashville, a 90- acre void of parking and low-rise industrial buildings separates the city’s central business district from the revitalizing Germantown neighborhood. The area is both a barrier to economic development and an opportunity. The Nashville Sounds baseball stadium is already under construction in the area, intended to spur revitalization.

Students from the University of Maryland designed a dense, mixed-use neighborhood called Sulphur Dell—organized around strong public spaces and a new pedestrian-bicycle street called the Dell Stroke. In four phases that take into account real estate market dynamics, the plan calls for 1,800 residential units and retail, office, and civic buildings. When built out, the plan will create 2,400 long-term jobs and tally $40 million in new property tax income annually for the city. The plan provides 360 new affordable homes available to moderate-income people downtown.

Sulphur Dell Nashville stadium and docks
A close-up of the proposed riverfront plaza. Source: University of Maryland.

This proposal “found creative but financially feasible ways of building off the area’s strengths while attending to the concerns of flood resilience and healthy living,” says Fannie Mae board member Bart Harvey.

The project’s green benefits are many. The plan calls for 800 new trees and the installation of 320,000 square feet of green roofs. New residents could go car-free or car-light, cutting their transportation costs while they get more exercise in this in-town area.

Sulphur Dell Nashville aerial
An aerial of the development area. Source: University of Maryland.

With the Sulphur Dell project connecting their communities, residents in Germantown and downtown would gain access to the river and public spaces in the Dell. “The pedestrian-oriented neighborhood stitches the urban fabric between these two districts and creates regional connections through north-south transit corridors,” the students write.

The Dell Stroke is anchored at one end by a compelling riverfront park and at the other end by the existing Bicentennial Mall that terminates at the state capitol. “This proposal’s placemaking strategy draws from and complements the unique character of Nashville,” the students write. “Amenities and establishments such as the ballpark and Cumberland River provide a neighborhood identity that could spark future development.” 

Top photo: The proposed Music City Plaza at night. Source: University of Maryland.

Similar Projects


Aldershot, United Kingdom

One of the largest brownfield developments in the United Kingdom has produced a sustainable town extension that meets the local community’s most urgent needs.

Virginia’s Capitol Master Plan

Richmond, Virginia

When Thomas Jefferson designed the state capitol in Richmond, Virginia in 1788, he never envisioned a campus of 24 state-owned buildings with 3.3 million square feet of floor space.

Pearl Brewery redevelopment

San Antonio, Texas

At the turn of the millennium, the 26- acre Pearl Brewery in San Antonio was abandoned and desolate—a collection of empty buildings and pavement with only five trees.