By Rachel O'Brien, Deputy Policy Editor
Summary: Metro Nashville will start paying $7,000 per month to a private company for police to use 97 parking spots, when the same spots used to cost $3,000 month, that's an increase of $108,000 over three years.
Police parking in South Nashville just got a whole lot more expensive.
On Feb. 21, Metro Council voted to amend a lease that will hike up the rate for 97 rented parking spots used by police from $4,000 per month to $7,000 monthly — a 75% increase.
The lease allows Metro Nashville’s police to use Joslin & Son Sign’s parking spaces at 630 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville. Mayor John Cooper approved the spending agreement two days later.
Metro Nashville Police Department headquarters, opened in 2019 — and the attached Family Safety Center — is next door to the sign company, with a small auto service business separating the two properties.
The old lease expired on Feb. 8 — less than two weeks before Council voted on the new terms.
The new lease extends to February 2026, and will cost Metro $252,000 over the term, verses the $144,000 cost for the three years if the rate stated the same — a $108,000 increase.
While the measure passed without opposition, two councilmembers questioned the huge rate increase, with one alluding to the relationship with the sign company’s owner, Robert “Bobby” Joslin.
“It just seems like a really large jump,” Councilmember Burkley Allen said. “Were we getting a great deal to start with?”
Metro lawyer Macy Amos explained at the meeting that “The lease expired, we did not timely renew the lease and so in order to allow us to remain on the property, these were the terms that the property owner would agree to.”
Councilmember Bob Mendes already did his homework on the parking spots, which he said were appraised at $6,000 per month.
He called out Joslin.
“The landlord is insisting on getting more than the appraised value and because there’s not really a lot of options, despite the appraisal being at $6,000 per month, apparently we’re going to agree to pay somebody who’s on the airport authority [board] about 16% higher than what that appraised rate is,” he said during the Council meeting. “But we need the space, so I guess that’s the way it’s gotta be. But I think those facts are worth the public knowing.”
Joslin — Businessman, Philanthropist, Power Broker
Joslin and his sign company are well known in the world of Nashville politics. His signs are seen at major businesses, including Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans, and he has donated signs to non-profits, like the Boy Scouts of America, the Children’s Miracle Network, Tennessee Special Olympics and more.
He’s a Nashville power broker who is involved in political and civic life, hosting an annual fish fry attended by politicos.
He has fundraised and held events for first responders, even raising a $65,000 award to help solve the murder of a nurse.
Joslin and his wife, Vicki, each gave a $1,600 campaign donation to then-candidate-for-mayor, John Cooper, in August 2019, ahead of the September runoff between he and David Briley.
That $3,200 was followed by another $3,200 to Cooper in June 2022, according to campaign finance disclosure forms filed with the Davidson County Election Commission. Cooper later announced he won’t run for re-election to mayor.
Joslin also donated $500 to Vice Mayor Jim Shulman’s campaign in September 2022, according to campaign finance records.
Joslin’s relationship with the mayor and the police seem friendly, so why the sudden increased bill to Metro for the parking spots?
Neither Joslin, nor the mayor or vice mayor responded to requests for comment by our deadline.
Joslin, a pilot and flight instructor, has been a commissioner on the Metro Nashville Airport Authority’s Board of Commissioners since 2009, including a stint as its chairman beginning in 2016, a mayor-appointed position that Councilmember Bob Mendes called out when questioning the parking cost increase.
Joslin more than once has been on the Nashville Business Journal’s “Power 100” and “and is regarded by many as an influential figure in the world of Nashville politics,” according to Nashville Scene.
He also finds himself in the middle of Metro-state political tension.
Republicans in the state legislature have drafted a bill to cut the 40-member Metro Council in half, a move that Nashville politicians see as a direct result of the Council voting against Republican Gov. Bill Lee's attempt to bring the 2024 Republican National Convention to Nashville.
The state GOP members have also drafted bills to defund Music City Center and scrap runoff elections for local races, which could give Republicans a leg up in those races, Axios reported.
Bills are also drafted to give state lawmakers and the governor the power to appoint the majority to the airport authority board, according to The Tennessean.
“They're the supermajority,” Joslin said in an interview with Nashville Business Journal. “They can do anything they want to, and they know it.”
He’s not opposed to the state taking power from the Nashville mayor to appoint the members.
“What's the difference in the mayor doing it and these guys having an opportunity to put somebody on this board that they trust, who cares about this city, this state and this airport?” he told the Business Journal.