The parking lot on Nolensville Road, just north of the Pork Belly Farmhouse and Copper and June Parlour, has been a bit of a mystery for some Nolensville residents.
To some observers it appears that the lot may have been abandoned, unfinished. After all, there is a rather large plot squarely in the middle of the lot that appears to be nothing more than dirt and rocks. Questions have been raised on social media posts from time to time about its origins and why a parking lot was allowed to be built in an area considered to be prime real estate in the town’s historic district.
As is often the case, once unraveled, the mystery is not much of a mystery.
Jim McCanless, who owns the parking lot, said he intends to build a structure on the lot. But to satisfy zoning requirements, he needs about 30 more parking spaces.
“I have land where I can add the required spaces,” he said, “but for drivers to get access I’d need an easement from the owner of another lot which stands between my lot and the area that already has paved parking. The easement hasn’t been granted.”
McCanless, who is the president of McCanless & Company, is also trying to negotiate a deal to buy the lot, which would make an easement unnecessary.
There’s an interesting backstory about the parking lot as well. Originally, the Pork Belly Farmhouse was supposed to be an office building. When McCanless decided to use the building as a restaurant, the site was no longer in compliance with Nolensville’s minimum parking requirements. While construction of the north parking lot satisfied the town’s restaurant parking related zoning ordinance, adding another building would negate that.
Some residents have noticed that the parking lot hasn’t placed street lights along the front of the structure. McCanless, who is a co-owner of the restaurant, has an explanation for that too.
“I have the lights, but TDOT is going to be replacing Nolensville Road’s Mill Creek Bridge, which involves widening the road and adding a shoulder," he said. "They told me not to put lights in because there’s a good chance they will have to be removed.”
Indeed, TDOT is planning to replace the bridge. The two travel lanes will be 12 feet wide each, with sufficient space for both shoulders and bike lanes. The west side of the road will also have a sidewalk. The work is expected to begin in the summer or fall of 2023 and is expected to take six to nine months to complete.
McCanless reiterated his intention to construct aa building on the parking lot grounds when the issues are resolved. Can the usually empty parking lot be used now by residents who are shopping or attending special events?
“People can park there now,” McCanless said.