MDHA Designing Community With Policy, Architects

With an artist’s rendering of what’s being built on Kirkpatrick Park Property are, from left, R. Hunter Gee, Brett Withers and Mona Hodge. Photo by Clint Confehr

By Clint Confehr

NASHVILLE, TN — Economic integration is one of the things Metro wants to do by rebuilding a public housing community.

“Mixed income” are the words Metropolitan Development and Housing Administration uses as it’s changing the face of public housing here.

“It will be a mixed income community,” says Mona Hodge, project manager with Smith Gee Studio, the Nashville architectural firm that designed Envision Cayce and its 94 townhouse apartments at Kirkpatrick Park.

It’s to be MDHA’s first mixed-income development. When finished, there’ll be more Kirkpatrick Park apartments than there are public housing units in the same area.

“It will have a third of the people who are current residents of Cayce; another third of affordable housing, and the last third would be market rate,” Hodge says.

The plan is for “a desaturation of poverty” and that’s to add “confidence and respect for where you live where the neighborhood is not different from what’s across the street,” she says, pointing to single family homes occupied by “anybody else that makes $40,000-plus” annually.

MDHA intends to rent 31 apartments to families that can afford to pay rent without subsidy for new housing close to downtown. Another 31 will be residents of nearby public housing. The rest of the families will have some form of assistance, perhaps rent vouchers The goal is to foster “a synergistic relationship where people can rely on each other,” Hodge said of a neighborly attitude between people in different

socio-economic groups; people who realize the value of their relationships is greater than the number of people. “Hopefully,” she says, “more community retail, more community resources will come into the neighborhood and it will be safer for everyone.”

Furthermore, she says, “We’re increasing density and brining in more resources.”

Councilman Brett Withers’ district includes Cayce Homes where Kirkpatrick Park apartments are planned.

“We’re building on what is currently vacant [Kirkpatrick Park] space,” Withers said. “We’ll build new units here. Folks will move from some of their existing units into these new ones.

“As buildings are vacated in the interior of Cayce,” he said, “those buildings can be demolished and the redevelopment can continue.

“The Metro Parks board approved what is, effectively, a land swap for this area. As construction occurs, in the center of the Cayce campus, we’re creating a new 11-acre park which is more than double the size of this one.”

R. Hunter Gee, principal, Smith Gee Studio architects, says construction will “cost the same as market rates for apartments and town homes across the city.

The product … we’ve designed is going to be equivalent to the homes that people are buying all over Nashville,” Gee said. “So, while it’s built for people of all economic levels, the finishes are all the same;” floors, walls, fixtures, counters and cabinets. “Construction techniques are like those in privately developed apartments.

“Our goal was to design a development that blended into the neighborhood,” Gee said. “Instead of repeating the same building over and over … each building looks very different and has a lot of the same characteristics that other East Nashville homes have; front porches, lots of windows, and many gabled roofs throughout.

“We want these to blend into these Nashville neighborhoods. We’re building a neighborhood here, not a project; not a public housing development.”

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