Community pushes back on plans for 1st transit-oriented district in Nashville, TN

Dive Brief:
A suburb of Nashville, TN is considering a plan to become the city’s first transit-oriented district, but the proposal is receiving significant community opposition, The Tennessean reports. The plan near the train stop in Donelson, a neighborhood about six miles east of downtown, has been criticized for not doing enough to protect affordable housing and the area’s most vulnerable residents. Opponents have said review committees have not held enough public hearings, and their membership is not representative of the community. Nashville City Council is set to vote on the plan at its June 5 meeting.
Dive Insight:

After a stinging defeat in a May 1 referendum on a $5.2 billion massive transit plan, advocates for public transportation in Nashville have been planning their next moves and trying to make progress. While there appears to be little agreement on what should be done, the consensus appears to be that something must be done, and fast.

Donelson could soon be home to new restaurants, apartments and townhomes in a government-subsidized and planned corridor, with a new public library branch to serve as an anchor. Nashville would not be the first to use transit to try and spur new development, as such plans have gathered steam in cities including Washington, DC. The Washington Post reports the plans for DC have brought new development to areas along its new Silver Line, but has also made some residents worried about being pushed out.

The concerns from residents represent something of a dilemma for cities who look to promote this kind of development, as some low-income residents fear being pushed out and question if boards, commissions and elected officials are working in their interests. It is up to city leaders to promote transparency and encourage greater job opportunities, so that people can — as Courtney Snowden, DC’s Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity, put it in a recent panel discussion — “gentrify in place.”

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