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The Scoop - Put apartments at Blue Building site
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You can mark it on your calendar. Every time there’s a city election, talk rekindles about what McMinnville should do about the Blue Building.

Candidates for McMinnville Mayor and McMinnville Alderman spoke at a Southern Standard/ WCPI political forum on Monday night and, not surprisingly, the Blue Building was a topic of conversation.

It’s been 11 years since the Police Department left the Blue Building for greener pastures at Red Road Business Park. The Police Department will soon be on the move again when it finds a new home at City Hall.

But the Blue Building remains vacant, sitting as quiet as a grave on 4 acres of prime real estate in the heart of McMinnville. The building is slowly becoming one with the earth before our very eyes.

I think the city should demolish the Blue Building and sell it to a developer looking to put upscale apartments on the property. Here’s why.

First and foremost, McMinnville has a housing shortage. As one candidate noted Monday at the forum, we want people to move here, but where are they going to live?

Apartments may not be desirable for some people, but they are for others. About four months ago I interviewed a recent MTSU graduate for a reporter position here at the paper.

She was a strong candidate and she probably would have gotten the job, except for the fact she wanted to live in Murfreesboro. She checked out the local apartment scene, she told me, and she was unable to find a place where she was willing to live. Fresh out of college, she wasn’t even thinking about buying a house.

As a reporter, I believe you really need to live in the community that you’re covering so it didn’t work out for her to get the job. And it’s all because our lack of a quality apartment complex.

It should also be noted that downtown living has become a sexy thing. It’s all the rage in bigger cities.

McMinnville is no big city, but we can see the attraction right here at home where people are moving to our downtown area and living above retail stores on Main Street. Officials who specialize in revitalization are quick to note that having people live downtown is a key component to downtown prosperity.

As it stands now, the Blue Building is serving no purpose, other than to consume a flat piece of property with plenty of parking. Renovating the building is not feasible and McMinnville voters even voted not to spend money for that purpose during the same referendum where we gave the green light for Park Theater restoration.

Let’s tear down the Blue Building and move on with our lives. For anyone who wants to contend the structure should be restored and saved, we’ve waited 11 years and it hasn’t happened yet.

Remove the building and find a developer willing to construct nice apartments there. It’s the best solution.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.