Envision Cayce Project Moves Forward

It’s been a busy spring and early summer at Cayce Place, Nashville’s oldest and largest public housing development, as construction on the massive $600 million Envision Cayce project moves forward, slowly transforming the 63-acre East Nashville site.
      The redevelopment project is designed to break up the concentrated poverty of Cayce, reconnecting that section of the neighborhood to the boomtown side of East Nashville.
      Cayce’s bunker-like brick structures will eventually be erased from the landscape, replaced by modern townhomes and apartments, where former Cayce residents can live alongside professionals from the community in a mixed-income, mixed-use, planned community, replete with acres of green space and amenities such as a new health center, grocery, school, and library.
      It’s a grand plan, and one that is still far from reality, as many of Cayce’s 1,800 residents continue to grapple with what all this change means, and many East Nashville residents still hear about that part of the neighborhood primarily from crime reports.
      But city officials remain committed to Envision Cayce and optimistic that this plan has the potential to drastically alter the way Nashville imagines public housing.
      In May, Mayor David Briley joined Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency members, along with state and federal representatives, at a groundbreaking ceremony for Envision Cayce’s third residential construction and second mixed-income development. Phase three, known as Boscobel I, will include 96 apartments; 50 will be subsidized, and the remaining 46 will be a mix of workforce and market-rate units. All of the subsidized units will house current Cayce Place residents, many of whom have been involved in the Envision Cayce planning process for years. Expectations are for Boscobel I to be completed by the end of 2019.
      “It’s so important that we create mixed-income communities in Nashville by building affordable housing in the urban core, and this new Envision Cayce residential project will do just that,” Mayor Briley said at the groundbreaking. “I appreciate MDHA’s hard work to get this development started, and I look forward to seeing the final product.”
      The Envision Cayce Master Plan calls for a total of 2,390 units and ensures a one-forone replacement of all public housing units, while adding new, affordable workforce and market-rate housing.
      The plan also calls for the eventual demolition of the property’s aging structures built between 1941 and 1954, which have not been significantly updated since that time.
      Phase three of the project is located along South Sixth Street in East Nashville, less than a mile from downtown.
      Also under way is phase two of Envision Cayce, further up Shelby Avenue, near Kirkpatrick Park. MDHA broke ground for this portion of the project in November 2017. It will feature 94 townhome apartments and will be the first mixed-income phase of the master plan to be completed, by the spring of 2019.
      Groundbreaking for the fourth residential construction project at Cayce — 102 mixed-income units, to be built along Lenore Street — is expected this summer.
      Last June, officials cut the ribbon at Barrett Manor, phase one of Envision Cayce, and the first new addition of public housing stock in Davidson County in 18 years. Elderly and low-income residents began moving into 70 new one-bedroom apartments in Barrett Manor — named after the late Nashville attorney and prominent civil rights advocate George Barrett — last August.
      In addition to the housing construction projects under way on the edges of Cayce Place, a major school construction project is also about to start. Explore Community School is expected to begin construction on their new school facility this fall.
      Explore, a charter school sponsored by the Martha O’Bryan Center, an anti-poverty non-profit organization located at Caye, opened at a nearby temporary site in 2015. It is expected to move into its new school building adjacent to the Martha O’Bryan Center for the start of the 2019-2020 school year. With a new school building that includes 36 classrooms, Explore will ultimately have the capacity to serve up to 900 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
      At press time, the MDHA was gearing up for a public Envision Cayce town hall meeting; visit nashville-mdha.org/?p=1616 for town hall updates, and more about the project and its next steps.