NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The city has agreed to pull millions of dollars out of the Jefferson Street project slated for north Nashville.
The proposed Jefferson Street Cap project would serve as a land bridge that caps Interstate 40. Over the last few months there have been community meetings regarding residents and business owners’ thoughts regarding the project. It would cost $120 million to build this greenspace that would be over Jefferson Street.
Metro Council approved a $500 million capital spending plan during Tuesday’s meeting. Councilmember Bob Mendes added an amendment that removed $15 million from the cap project. Mendes said there needs to be more community engagement and support before the money is spent.
“The engagement work about what a cap might be should continue, but the community support and planning is not far enough along yet,” Mendes said in a statement shared with News4.
“When Interstate 40 was built, it was intentionally routed through historically African-American North Nashville. That decimated a thriving Jefferson Street. The idea of a Jefferson Street Cap over the interstate is to create new community space where a community was destroyed decades ago. The most important voices in whether to build a cap and what it should include are the neighbors and small businesses that have been in the community for decades. The engagement work about what a cap might be should continue. But the community support and planning are not far enough along yet to approve $15 million of government bonds. I was glad to see that the Mayor’s Office agreed to do this important work before the city spends millions on infrastructure,” Mendes said in the statement.
It’s an economic project that the city said would right the wrongs done to the community decades ago after the construction of the interstate displaced historic African American businesses and families.
“No one spoke publicly in favor of the cap. The sentiment basically has been that they don’t know what a cap is and people are concerned about the empty promises that have been made historically,” Councilmember Sharon Hurt said during Tuesday night’s meeting.
Charles Graham lives near the proposed project. He said the project would be beneficial, he just wished it was implemented years ago before the start of gentrification.
“The residents that have moved into north Nashville, that’s who the cap is benefiting,” Graham said. “I just wish the project happened 15 years ago prior to gentrification when it really would have benefited the African American residents of North Nashville.
Other residents like Herman Patton, owner of Sweet Creations, are skeptical about the project and believe the city should focus on the descendants who were displaced years ago.
“Give them something of what they’ve missed, which is prosperity. Prosperity is coming through here. Why can’t they get back the goal mine of what was here at first?” Patton said.
The proposed plan would not remove any existing homes or businesses during construction if approved.