When my husband and I moved to North Nashville, we’d often sleep on the floor of our home for fear of being shot in a drive-by shooting. Back then, every. single. day. was a struggle to hold onto hope. Thankfully, a small group of neighbors banded together to organize neighborhood cleanup days, community bike rides and celebrations of our community. Slowly, things began to improve: the city began investing in infrastructure (after decades of neglect), shootings decreased and we gained a sliver of peace. 

But just as our community began to exhale, something strange happened. We began getting texts, phone calls, visits and letters asking us to sell our homes. This week, PBS is airing the Independent Lens documentary A Reckoning in Boston. It chronicles the inextricable link between: 

  • violence
  • the failure of public education
  • the displacement of legacy residents
  • and the rise of luxury living in the face of poverty

It was soul crushing to see the parallels between Boston and North Nashville. 
As I think about the ten story mixed-use luxury apartment building Stolz Real Estate Partners has planned along Rosa Parks, I’m overwhelmed with sadness. It is out of scale and scope with our existing historic buildings, and it will advance the erasure of Black people and Black history in North Nashville. But you’ve retained the former executive director of the Planning Department as your legal counsel, and it appears our local councilman has mounted a public relations campaign in support of the project. As a community, we are outmatched and outspent. 
So, I am writing with the hope that I can appeal to your humanity. The site you plan to build on, 801 Monroe Street, is just across the street from Mr. Kwame Lillard’s former office. As a youth, he tried to integrate Nashville city pools. Rather than allow Black people to swim, the City of Nashville closed the pools. The site you plan to build on is along the route where thousands of Black Nashvillians marched silently in protest to the bombing of Z. Alexander Looby’s home. In 2020, numerous U.S. companies made commitments to move toward equity and justice. I don’t know if Stoltz made such commitments. But I thought you’d like to know that your proposal will irrevocably reshape the built environment of North Nashville and further alienate legacy residents.The Planning Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing and make a decision on your proposal (2021DTC-027-001) Thursday, February 10th at 4pm.  I am asking that you withdraw your proposal to build a ten-story luxury apartment building in the middle of two historic North Nashville neighborhoods. 
M. Simone Boyd