The proposal accepted by Nashville Mayor Megan Barry to redevelop Fort Negley Park calls for affordable housing subsidized by government programs including tax credits and Section 8 vouchers.
The plan by Cloud Hill Partnership has already drawn fierce opposition because of concerns about historic preservation. Located south of downtown, the land is home to a fort built during the Union occupation of Nashville during the Civil War and also includes Greer Stadium, where the Nashville Sounds minor league baseball team played until moving to a new stadium north of downtown in 2015.
City officials have not yet entered into a formal agreement with Cloud Hill and negotiations for the public-private partnership are stalled pending a protest by a competing developer whose bid was turned down.
In addition to affordable and workforce housing, Cloud Hill’s plan includes green space, creative spaces for artists, offices, and shops and restaurants. It also calls for preserving the fort and honoring and protecting history.
The residential component includes plans for 294 apartments. They would include 87 studio, 68 one-bedroom, 119 two-bedroom and 20 three-bedroom apartments. At least 80 of the 294 apartments would be reserved as affordable units for those earning less than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI). Low income housing tax credits through the Tennessee Housing Development Agency would be used to fund the units.
The proposal couples this funding with long-term federal Housing and Urban Development financing to tailor the remaining 214 units for Nashville’s workforce earning between 50 percent and 120 percent of the area media income.
In addition, Cloud Hill would make some units available to federal Section 8 housing choice voucher recipients.
“Up to 50 percent of new voucher recipients are currently not able to find housing – we hope to ameliorate this pressing issue,” the proposal says.
The proposal also notes that that Cloud Hill “would embrace the city’s Housing Incentive Pilot Program to help make this unique place be available to all.”
On its website, Cloud Hill says, “We hope to attract and foster a mixed-income community that reflects the macro-level demographics of Nashville as a whole, rather than target solely one end of the economic spectrum.”
Such an approach is in line with that of Mayor Barry, a progressive Democrat. At her State of Metro address in April, Barry said, “Income diversity within neighborhoods is a kind of diversity we need more of in Nashville.”
Bert Mathews, whose real estate firm launched the Cloud Hill team, held a fundraiser for Barry when she was running for mayor.
Developer Devinder Singh Sandhu is protesting the selection process that led to Cloud Hill being chosen in May. In a letter to city procurement officials, Sandhu said the process “was not equitable to all submitters and information required to make a proper presentation was not complete” and that there was a “lack of transparency.”
Sandhu’s ambitious plan for what would be called Nashville Adventure Park also included affordable housing, as well as senior living, luxury apartments, a hotel, artisan stores and studios, an indoor sports complex and a park with a lake and small stream.
Critics are wary of any large-scale development plan for Fort Negley Park. Critics include many native and longtime Nashvillians, Councilman John Cooper and African-American groups. The fort was built using the forced labor of slaves and free blacks, and black Union soldiers were among those stationed at the fort.
Fort Negley is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Efforts to preserve the area as a national military park were unsuccessful. The city of Nashville purchased the property in 1928.
Any development proposal would have to be approved by the Metro Council and Metro Board of Parks and Recreation, as well as the Metro Historic Zoning Commission.
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