Developer doesn’t plan on including affordable housing as vote on rezoning for RiverChase apartments on tap

The new move by the developer CREA for an alternate plan for market value townhomes if they don't get rezoning approval by Metro Council.
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 7:02 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The developer who bought RiverChase Apartments put forward another plan for what could be developed at that site, and it doesn’t include affordable housing as they wait on Metro Council’s vote on rezoning.

On Tuesday night, the votes were deferred for four weeks.

The developer Cypress Real Estate Advisors (CREA) in late September submitted what its calling Provisional plan for the Riverchase site.

Redevelopment of that site has been in the works for months after those who lived there were basically given no choice but to move.

Cypress Real Estate Advisors proposed on that Riverchase property a 1,150-unit residential community with at least 225 affordable homes; a plan that some who live in the neighborhood said they don’t believe the developer will follow through.

“Our concern is that it’s not a strong enough commitment on the part of the developer to actually deliver affordable units that our city needs, David Rutledge, who lives close to the site and is a volunteer with StandUp Nashville, said. “What we wanted was a strong, legally binding commitment to make sure some affordable units returned to that site.”

Before CREA can make a move, they await approval of rezoning by Metro Council on Tuesday night.

CREA sent WSMV4 a statement explaining why they put forward another plan for the RiverChase Apartments site:

“Cypress Real Estate Advisors (CREA) has proposed a vision for the redevelopment of the RiverChase Apartments site as an 1,150-unit residential community with at least 225 affordable homes at diverse AMI levels (30% to 120%) that provides former RiverChase residents the unique opportunity to return to the property.

“The commitment is supported by a community benefits agreement with the Urban League of Middle Tennessee that legally protects the affordability commitment for 30 years and construction safety standards, as well as CREA-paid improvements to the McFerrin Park neighborhood. This plan was unanimously approved by the Metro Planning Commission in February 2022, but since then, we have been frustrated that the zoning request has been deferred five times by the Metro Council.

“We remain devoted to our original plan and hopeful about moving forward next Tuesday to gain Metro Council support for a project that delivers on the city’s highly publicized goal to get more privately funded affordable housing to address the city’s housing crisis. But given the lack of certainty about the city’s support, it has become necessary that we consider an alternate development plan that is available with the underlying zoning.

“To that end, on Sept. 28, 2022, we submitted to Metro Planning a revised provisional preliminary planned unit development (PUD) for the property that includes between 212 and 245 market-rate townhomes. This is a strictly provisional plan that will be pursued if we are unable to get a public hearing or eventually cannot gain Council approval for the current Specific Plan zoning request.”

“As somebody who lives right next door to where the site is going to be, I wouldn’t mind having two stories next to me as opposed to seven or 10 stories,” Rutledge said. “Obviously, if they’re developing fewer units that eliminates the possibility of affordable housing. Again, given the promises that they’ve made verbally, don’t line up with the commitments they’ve made on paper and we’re not sure what they’re promising is going to be legally enforceable. So, it may just be 1,100 units of affordable housing as opposed to 200.”

As for how Metro Council should vote on Tuesday night, Rutledge said a line needs to be drawn.

“I think the council needs to show that a developer that doesn’t make strong commitments shouldn’t be given a license to print money on the backs of our community and this is the night to say no to one developer that’s going to do that and the next developer that comes along will know that’s the expectation as they come into our city,” Rutledge said.