Nearly an acre of land in East Nashville’s troubled Cleveland Park neighborhood may be redeveloped into a mixed-use retail and residential space, courtesy of a Nashville couple with strong ties to the area.
Plans announced Wednesday call for the project to be developed — and entirely funded — by Vernon and Barbara Winfrey, a husband and wife team taking their first foray into development.
Vernon Winfrey is a long-time resident, business owner and former Metro Council member, as well as the father of Oprah Winfrey.
To be called Winberry Place, plans for the development include shops and homes on .82 acres fronting Vernon Winfrey Avenue and Lischey Avenue. Six single-family homes, three townhomes and three apartments are planned, along with 3,000 square feet of retail space anchored by Winfrey’s Barber Shop.
Retail plans also include a salon and an unnamed “neighborhood-oriented business.”
“We’re very excited about it. We think it really is going to change the face of that neighborhood,” Barbara Winfrey said Wednesday.
She declined to name a specific price tag for the investment, though it is expected to be a “multi-million dollar” project.
Groundbreaking is planned for early 2008, with completion anticipated by fall of that year.
The plans must be approved by the Nashville Metropolitan Planning Commission, and is on the agenda for review at that entity’s Oct. 27 meeting. A public meeting for discussion of the project will take place tonight at 7 p.m. at the Cleveland Community Center, 610 N. Sixth St.
Though parts of East Nashville on the East side of Gallatin Road have been redeveloped over the last few years, the Winfreys’ project is likely the first mixed-use investment in Cleveland Park.
Barbara Winfrey said she hopes Winberry Place will have a positive long-term effect on the neighborhood. Already, she says, she has learned that other Nashvillians are planning commercial improvements to the area.
“Some people don’t think certain neighborhoods are worth saving. We think every neighborhood is worth saving,” Barbara Winfrey said.
The six single-family homes at Winberry Place are planned to range in size from 1,200 to 1,600 square feet, and the townhomes around 1,575 square feet. Three approximately 1,000-square-foot apartments will be constructed above the retail space.
A grocery store, a beauty shop and a couple of homes currently occupy the space, along with the barber shop.
The homes on the property are currently empty, and the proprietor of the grocery store has already found a new location on Dickerson Road, Barbara Winfrey said.
The Winfreys own all the property involved.
“No one had to leave their house in order for this to happen,” Barbara Winfrey said.
Nashville’s Dryden Abernathy Architecture Design is designing the project. DAAD also designed Summer Street Lofts and Germantown Court on Fifth Avenue North in Germantown, as well as the West Eastland Townhomes in East Nashville.
Company partner John Abernathy said in a statement that the project’s design is in line with the Metro Planning Department’s vision for the Cleveland Park Neighborhood.
Managing the project is Urban Blueprint, which was founded by Debbie Frank. Nashville civil engineering firm Barge Cauthen and Associates is also involved. Barbara Winfrey said three companies are currently being considered for the construction contract.
Though the Winfreys have never before headed up a development project, they say Winberry Place may be the first of many such endeavors. The Winfreys have “a few” other projects currently in the works, she said, though more information is not likely to be released for another six months.
The couple formed this year a company, B&V Development, funded entirely by Barbara and Vernon Winfrey. The company plans to complete other work in East Nashville, and its mission statement says the company exists to “redevelop communities across the country that require new energy and life to pervade their area.”
“This is just the beginning for us,” Barbara Winfrey said. “We have a vested interest in the neighborhood. We would love …to see all of East Nashville revitalized.”