Mixed-income community planned for Cayce homes

Mixed-income community planned for Cayce homes (Image 1)

A Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency plan to redevelop one of the city's oldest housing developments is being met with excitement and dread by the people living there now.

MDHA is working on a plan to tear down the James Cayce homes in east Nashville and replace them with mixed income residences and retail space.

The plan, called “Envision Cayce,” would replace all of the 716 public housing units with a minimum of 1,484 mixed income units.

“We had 77 percent of the residents in Cayce tell us what they wanted to see on a resident survey, so we based the plans on that,” MDHA spokeswoman Holly McCall said. “You should not be able to tell walking from one end of the development to the other which is market rate and which is public housing.”

The current plan is just a draft. A final plan should be finished and ready for submission to HUD by the end of 2013.

According to MDHA, the United States Housing and Urban Development Agency will pay for the redevelopment of the 64-acre property.

Some residents told News 2 the redevelopment and investment in the area is long overdue.

“It is time for a change,” resident K.C. Copeland said. “People should want growth I really think its going to be a big help.”

Others said the redevelopment could help remove negative influences from the neighborhood.

“While they are doing this I think they are going to be able to pull out the bad seeds,” resident Deandre Jones said. “Me and my fiancé we sit in our living room and we hear gunshots a lot and that's scary for our kids.”

The Cayce Place Revitalization Foundation is an organization of east Nashville residents who are working to break the cycle of poverty in the Cayce area.
The group's mission is to help create and fund sustainable mixed-income community living in the area.

The foundation president said developments like the one planned by MDHA is not just important to current residents, but to their children.

“I think it will mean they can really pursue their dreams and I really believe it allows them to realize their full potential,” Randall Gilberd said “It will create a safe environment and if we give them the education component it will give them the education they need to be successful.”

Gilberd said the investment also sends a clear message to the surrounding area that Nashville is committed to helping break the cycle of poverty.

“I think everything is going to be great,” he said. “There is a lot of momentum and some important safeguards for the residents insuring that those units dedicated to public housing will be rebuilt.”

However, some residents like John Zirker are concerned that the redevelopment will mean long time residents will be relocated and lose their homes when the new development is complete.

“We know we are going to have to move,” he said. “We know they are going to tear us down.”

Zirker said the area has been left to deteriorate for years, but now that downtown Nashville is flourishing the city is taking interest in the area.

“Why is it all of the sudden they are going to build all these beautiful things around jobs, training and education,” he said. “Those are all things we have been crying for as leaders for forever.”

He continued, “Housing authority you need to come clean.”

McCall said MDHA is aware of the concerns of residents and has held numerous public meetings to get feedback from the community.

“That is a valid concern,” she said. “This is a very tight knit community there are 716 public housing units here and we are building 716 public housing units back.”

She continued, “If we have to relocate people off site all the people living here when HUD approves our plan automatically gets back into a public housing unit.”

HUD is providing funding for the project and is expected to get a final plan from MDHA by the end of 2013.

McCall said it can take several months for HUD to give final approval.

The entire project is expected to be completed in about eight years.

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