People looking to move into affordable homes in Nashville will not have to wait too much longer. Hallmark Station, a new residential community, is under development. The seven-acre lot is sandwiched in the green space behind the Elpizo Shopping Center on West Hamilton where Youth About Business is located and also behind Kroger grocery store, 3030 Clarksville Pike .
Sixty-six mixed-use residential units are marked for the space.
“I’m very excited about it. I think it’s going to be a beautiful thing. I was so excited when I heard there was going to be a playground but a club house too. It’s going to be something that just hasn’t been done in this area,” said Gina Coleman.
Coleman has lived in Haynes Park, a neighborhood right next door to Hallmark Station, for 31 years. The former neighborhood association president and current treasurer says Hallmark Station will not only add value to North Nashville, but will be a good way for younger families to be able to buy in the area and live right next door to some of North Nashville’s older residents of the neighborhood, those she refers to as the gatekeepers of North Nashville.
“You can walk to the store. You have everything behind you like public transportation. That was the idea. We wanted our young children to be next to the aging parents,” added Coleman.
The development will include a variety of condos, townhomes and duplexes. Funding for the project comes from a tax credit grant which requires affordable housing price points. The units will range from $90,000 – $100,000. They will be outfitted with energy-efficient materials designed to save homeowners money on monthly utility bills.
The development was first introduced in 2007, but a dismal housing market and struggling economy put the project on hold after interested developers failed to secure funding. The May 2010 flood re-ignited the conversation about the development as a possible solution for those in the area displaced by the flood to be able to come back to the neighborhood they lived in for years, instead of starting over on another part of the city.
“Once we were in the rehab-rebuild mode after the flood, the question came up, as far as looking up how we can develop some property to have as alternatives instead of moving people out of the neighborhood. This would allow them to stay in the neighborhood but not in the flood zone,” said Councilman Lonnell Matthews, Jr, District 1. “We still couldn’t find a developer that could get financing.No developer would touch it in the housing market still.”
The property sat in construction limbo until one year ago when Aslan Development purchased the property and began construction.
While many neighboring residents support the idea of new affordable housing moving into the area, there is still concern about the tight throughway. For now, there is only one way into the subdivision. It is the same tight one-lane side street that serves as the entrance to the shopping center where Kroger, Subway, Domnio’s Pizza and China Spring are located. It’s a concern that has residents and Matthews waiting and watching.
“I do have concerns that came up at a community meeting that the developer attended. They felt comfortable that the one street would handle the increased traffic that would come with the development. I am still on the fence with that one,” said Matthews.
Matthew says there is an easement from Metro that runs alongside the Elpizo Shopping Center that could potentially be used as an access road if Metro agrees and if Aslan Development would consider it.
This isn’t the first time that concerns about the tight roadways through the development came up. To appease Haynes Park residents, Public Works and the fire marshal, the developers amended the plan to include a loop-road that would eliminate dead ends in the neighborhood. The Planning Commission then approved the revised plan.
Despite the support that the development has now, it didn’t start out that way. Back in 2007 the original company that owned the property – Nare Holdings, the same company that owns Kroger – planned to use the seven acres to build a storage unit. Haynes Park neighbors caught wind of the project and quickly protested against it.
To keep the peace with neighbors of the project, Nare Holdings met with residents to take their suggestions on what they would like to see developed in the open space. They introduced some ideas. One of them was a housing development.
“We were the author of this idea. We wanted good housing. We wanted it to be pretty with pretty fixtures. This is something that we have never had since I’ve been in the community,” said Coleman. Work has begun on the project, but Matthews says they are keeping a close watch on the development.
“I’m pleased to see people are interested in developing in this area, but we have to keep them accountable for this type of development and make sure the people that move in are accountable citizens that will uphold the area,” said Matthews.