Representatives from Stand Up Nashville, NOAH, TIRRC, The Equity Alliance and LiUNA sent a letter to the Mayor’s Office, the Metro Council, and the Planning Department about the process surrounding the East Bank Planning Study, which they called “flawed” and “disappointing.”
The letter is attached to a four page document detailing concerns about the process to date, and recommendations for improvement that would further goals of transparency, community engagement, and economic and racial equity.
“We’ve submitted a long list of suggestions that will undoubtedly improve the process, but the number one recommendation is this: slow it down,” said Odessa Kelly, executive director of Stand Up Nashville and a lifelong East Nashvillian.
“Attempts at community engagement have been too few and too controlled. Give residents the chance to offer real input, and expand outreach to the whole city, in communities that will actually supply the workforce for these new businesses,” Kelly said.
The East Bank Study is an effort led by the city, in contract with global design firm Perkins Eastman, to examine the planned redevelopment of 338 acres of land on the east bank of the Cumberland River, across from downtown. The letter calls it “most valuable underdeveloped land in the heart of our city, and Nashville’s largest opportunity for advancing racial and economic inclusion.”
In addition to increased community engagement, the coalition’s document encourages Metro to seek out affordable housing solutions, worker protections and more as a part of the development.
“I’ve lived in East Nashville for decades, and every time there’s another development, it seems like the only goal is attracting new, wealthier residents,” said Tamika White, volunteer manager for The Equity Alliance.
“They always seem to forget that real people have to work here, and if they can’t afford to live close to their jobs, that will just be one more car on the interstate causing traffic, and one more family that’s been pushed out of Davidson County. We hardly ever see affordable housing or transit in these proposals.”
The coalition states in their letter that they hope this effort is seen “not as an attack or an obstruction, but an earnest attempt at making this process as equitable and just as possible, on behalf of the citizens of Nashville.”
The organizations are asking for a formal response from the Mayor’s Office, Council and Planning Department.