How is gentrification impacting longtime Nashville residents?

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As Nashville continues to experience historic growth, the city is not only seeing more people, but also more traffic and construction.

New high-rise office and residential buildings are being built downtown and neighborhoods that have been static for decades are no longer as brick bungalows are being torn down and replaced by two tall skinnies.

For some, rising property values are literally forcing longtime residents to sell their homes.

It’s known as gentrification and it is one of the dark sides of the epic growth Nashville has experienced.

Metro Councilman Colby Sledge (Photo: WKRN)

“In the area I represent, just south of downtown, we are seeing that,” said District 17 Metro Councilman Colby Sledge.

Sledge represents the Wedgewood-Houston and fairgrounds area.

“I’ve got a very diverse district,” he explained to News 2. “I’ve got a lot of folks who economically are making $15,000 a year to making $150,000 a year. Some folks really like to see the change. They do like seeing the increase in property values and there are others who are a little worried the rate of the change and what it is going to do to them and their families.”

Councilman Sledge said traditional neighborhoods are in a battle with new development, while also trying to preserve the past.

“In the district I represent, we have done a mix,” he explained. “We have done a mix of allowing some basic design standards all the way to making sure, ‘hey, if this has some historic significance, you can’t tear it down.’”

Sledge said growth and change is happening in many different Nashville neighborhoods, but the biggest changes are to those like the Houston-Wedgewood and fairgrounds area where little has changed in decades and families live for years.

(Photo: WKRN)

“I think you are beginning to see it in North Nashville. A lot of the folks, developers who were building in the district that I represent are now looking north of downtown because quite frankly, the land is there,” he said.

When asked if gentrification harms a neighborhood by forcing some to leave, or helps it because it attracts new home owners and increases property values, Sledge said, “I think the good outweighs the bad. We are talking about growth in the city, and quite frankly, we have so many people coming here we have to have somewhere to put them.”

He continued, “The ideal thing is that we have places for new people who are coming in, but we also make sure that we have a wide range of housing for folks who have been here a long time.”