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Mon, Nov 05, 2007

FAA Riled Over Proposed Nashville Tower

1,057 Tower Would Be Four Miles From BNA

The 1,057-foot Signature Tower proposed in Nashville will pose a hazard to aircraft and should be cut by half of its height, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Developer Tony Giarratana said there's no way he's changing his plans, because working with the Federal Aviation Administration is a matter of course when you're in the business of building skyscrapers, according to the Nashville Tennessean.

The lot for the proposed structure is about four and a half miles from the end of Runway 31 at Nashville International Airport (BNA) and four miles from the Cornelia Fort Airpark (M88), according to the FAA. Signature Tower is planned to be 70 stories, with 400 condos and 197 hotel rooms, the story says.

The project, has hailed approval from the Metro Council and Planning Commission, but the proposed tower, has been designated a presumed hazard, after a study from the FAA.

Giarratana said the Metro Nashville Airport Authority has promised its support, and is looking into ways to alter their flight patterns to accommodate the tower at its planned stature.

"The bottom line ... is that Metro and the FAA are working with us to solve any issues that exist, and that Signature Tower will get developed as planned," Giarratana said.

The airport authority sent a letter to the Metro codes department in September — the last agency the project must clear — saying it planned to help make the changes necessary to meet FAA regulations well in advance of the building's completion.

But an FAA notice issued October 25 says that the Signature Tower needs to be "reduced in height so as not to exceed 433 feet above ground level."

"Every location is unique," FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. "We study every building, every cell tower based on the exact latitude and longitude, proximity to the airport, and the location regarding flight paths into and out of the airport."

The staff calculates how many feet, vertically and horizontally, need to be kept clear for climbing planes, and the tower falls into that area, according to Bergen.

Bergen said Giarratana Development LLC submitted the required request for a study in November, and the FAA deemed the tower to be a hazard in February. Another study was commissioned in August with the same results, prompting last week's notice, Bergen said.

Giarratana said he has not received the October notice, but he, his consultants and airport officials have been working with the FAA since it told him in February the height might be a problem. Research is under way to figure out what flight-pattern changes would accommodate the tower, he said.

The FAA says changes to the approaches and departure routes of an airport require noise and environmental studies and approval from the FAA.
The FAA can't force Giarratana to meet its recommendations, but ignoring it could carry consequences.

"We cannot legally block a proponent from building, but our determinations carry a lot with insurance companies and local agencies," Bergen said.

In Arlington, VA, a 390-foot office tower was deemed a presumed hazard for planes approaching from Reagan International Airport, although the FAA approved the twin residential tower next door that was one story shorter. A Las Vegas developer, trying to build the tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere, scaled back plans for a 1,888-foot hotel this fall after getting an FAA notice it was too high.

As ANN reported, a nearly-completed San Diego office tower lost its top two floors, after Mayor Jerry Sanders ordered the contractor to remove the top 20 feet because the 180-foot building was deemed a hazard to air navigation near Montgomery Field by the FAA.

Giarratana has until Christmas to submit a request for further study of his building at the same height or revised plans that meet the FAA's recommendations.

FMI: www.flynashville.com

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