Residents say they're being pushed out by gentrification - WSMV Channel 4

Cleveland Park residents say they're being pushed out by gentrification

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Mary Collins, 62, is racing against the clock.

"I've been packing ever since they told me I had to move. I'm still packing and ain't finished yet," she said.

She's packing up her belongings and the life she's known for years in Cleveland Park since her landlord is selling. He says she has to be out in the next 24 hours.

"I think it's really sad because a person like me on fixed income, you really have nowhere to go, you have to do the very best you can, and it's really upsetting and just depressing to me," Collins said.

Sam McCullough is the founder and president of the Cleveland Park Neighborhood Association. He says he has lived in the Cleveland Park community for 55 years and his family has been in East Nashville since the late 1800s.

"You have older people, senior citizens, that's being displaced," McCullough said. "This isn't trendy to my family. This is our life."

He says Collins is one of the many faces who represent the downside of gentrification, a process where new homes, restaurants and shops replace older homes and buildings in inner-city communities, often displacing older and lower-income residents.

"When we set out in our neighborhood association, the Cleveland Park Neighborhood Association, to clean up this neighborhood, this is not the end result, to chase people out," McCullough said.

Labeled the "new it neighborhood" by many investors years ago, Cleveland Park is one of the last areas to be gentrified.

During Channel 4's interview, a local investor who just closed on a home in Cleveland Park approached McCullough and told him he didn't see the issue in building newer, more expensive homes, saying it's a free market.

"We're just trying to keep a balance," McCullough said.

The investor wouldn't go on camera with Channel 4, but said he is buying houses for the proximity to East Nashville and the desirable architecture.

McCullough says he just wants stability and affordability for seniors like Collins.

"I would really love to come back to Nashville," Collins said.

On Monday, the Nashville Planning Commission facilitated a town hall discussion on the pros and cons of gentrification at the Martin Development Center. The meeting was nearly filled to capacity.

Dr. James Fraser, a professor of urban housing at Vanderbilt University, discussed the ramifications of gentrifications if the city doesn't address the issue now.

"We have quite a few neighborhoods that are redeveloping at a rapid rate," Fraser said at the meeting. "Those are typically for high-income households. What we're trying to do is make sure there is affordable housing in those neighborhoods for low-income households and middle-income households."

McCullough says he has been reaching out to Metro Council members for support. He says like many other cities undergoing gentrification, he wants legislation in place that says for every affordable unit that is taken down, a new affordable unit must be built somewhere else in the same community.

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