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GPAC’s Grove gets green light

GPAC's Grove gets green light

Germantown’s newest outdoor entertainment venue has been approved by the city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
Board members gave The Grove at GPAC the thumbs up Monday night during their regularly scheduled meeting.
The Board voted 4-1 for the project, with Alderman Dean Massey dissenting.
The multi-million dollar project will include a permanent covered stage and backstage to accommodate large performance groups. The partially covered First Tennessee Foundation Plaza will serve as the main entrance and will comprise a box office, guest services and beverage/food service. The lawn in front of the stage will be landscaped and maintained by TruGreen.
The timeline calls for a Fall 2019 opening, which will coincide with GPAC’s 25th anniversary.
The concert and events facility is planned for the 1.5-acre tract north of the GPAC theater, at Exeter and Germantown Road.
There will be an outdoor bar and seating area, VIP areas and a covered, hard-scaped area in front of the stage. With a capacity for approximately 1,200, the space will be suitable for both ticketed and free events.
Due to a “creative funding model,” The Grove will be constructed using significant contributions from local businesses, foundations and other supporters.
The original goal was to raise $2 million of contributed dollars that would be matched by the city. GPAC has received nearly $2.5 million in contributions and pledges.
“We work to leverage community resources to help bring amenities, like The Grove, to Germantown,” said Mayor Mike Palazzolo. “And we are thrilled with the success that GPAC has had in helping fund this project, which we think will be a tremendous value to the community.”
The project has also received support from the GPAC Board of Directors. As a result, the city will be able to bring a “world-class outdoor venue to a community of just 40,000, improving quality of life, strengthening community bonds, building community character and drawing regional visitors to Germantown to help support the tax base.”
“This is a community gathering space for family and friends,” said GPAC Executive Director Paul Chandler.
There will be no fixed seating at the venue, which could open as soon as next September.
Alderman John Barzizza asked if the venue would be a smaller competitor to the Botanic Gardens.
“A little bit more like the Levitt Shell,” Chandler said. “Our estimation on standing experience is 1,200, with seated events that number is going to drop. We’re going to grow slowly. Let’s let 400 people in here and see what that feels like.”
There will be a “secured perimeter” around the venue.
The Grove’s first-year plans call for presenting 10 concert movies and films and up to three large festivals. In addition to GPAC-bookings, as many as six other events will be presented by other area arts and culture organizations. The events will include a mix of ticketed and free programming.
Massey said tax payers have asked him whether the city will be able to recover any of the costs regarding the $2 million.
“I think the answer is ‘no,'” he added.
Noting that he lives close to GPAC, Massey said there are “a lot of neighbors, young and old, that have lived in this neighborhood for decades and they’re not all on board with this project.”
“You’re looking at additional traffic,” he said. “You’re looking at additional noise.”
He said that his neighbors are concerned with why they are being asked to pay for a project that “they don’t want and that will be detrimental to they’re neighborhood.”
Chandler said that event attendees will contribute to sales tax revenue at gas stations and local restaurants.
“I don’t just want to rely on that,” he said. “It is an immeasurable amount. I know that we have a significant impact on restaurants near the facility.”
He added that Germantown, in the last two decades, has created an “amenity that other cities don’t have, that is commonly affiliated with a cultural center or entertainment complex for those who choose to elect to have that.”
For more information about The Grove at GPAC, visit or call Parke Kennedy, Director of Development at 901.751.7505.
An Inaugural Ceremony for newly elected officials will be held at 6 p.m. on Dec. 17 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1930 S. Germantown Road.
The Oath of Office will be administered to Mayor Mike Palazzolo, new Alderman Scott Sanders and incumbent Alderman Mary Anne Gibson. The public is invited to attend.

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