In hiring of consultant, MDHA explores rebuilding James A. Cayce homes

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 9:05pm

Nashville’s oldest public housing unit could be coming down.

On Wednesday, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency announced the first step in the process of creating a redevelopment plan for East Nashville’s James A. Cayce Place. MDHA is enlisting EJP Consulting Group LLC to lead the redevelopment of James A. Cayce Place in East Nashville.

Construction on Cayce Place, which now holds 740 housing units, first began in 1941, and while MDHA communications director Mark Drury said they haven’t decided between refurbishing and rebuilding, he also acknowledged limited options.

“The units were built between 1941 and 1954, so relative to a lot of our other units around town, they are small and difficult to make repairs in and outdated,” Drury said. “So, it would be difficult to conceive of how you would rectify that, but the consultant is starting with a blank sheet of paper and is going to develop a plan for us.”

EJP previously worked with MDHA on the redevelopment of the Sam Levy Homes and John Henry Hale homes.

“A lot of the public housing developments have been redeveloped ... for the purposes of modernizing and reducing the density,” said Loretta Owens, executive director of The Housing Fund. “It seems like this is a reasonable time to look at how [Cayce Homes] could be redeveloped.”

According to the MDHA, the first step in the planning process for the redevelopment of Cayce Place will be community meetings. Surveys will be conducted and the results will be released.

“You are dealing with people’s existing neighborhoods and you want to be respectful of those peoples’ networks and communities,” Owens said.

EJP will also be responsible for crafting relocation and rehousing strategies once the redevelopment plan is in place.

“I’m pleased MDHA will have the opportunity to work with EJP once again,” outgoing MDHA executive director Phil Ryan said.

“The firm’s experience in revitalizing public housing nationally and in Nashville ensures we’ll be working with people who have extensive knowledge of best practices in public housing and are committed to seeking input from all of Cayce’s residents and stakeholders.”

The neighborhood is named after James A. Cayce, the first chairman of the Nashville Housing Authority.

9 Comments on this post:

By: Loner on 2/21/13 at 6:54

Good morning, Nashville.

Question of the day: In redeveloping the James A. Cayce homes, could refurbishing suffice or is rebuilding the only logical way to go?

If I knew the answer to that, I'd probably be too arrogant and uppity to post on a site like this....and the reply would be expensive, wordy, boring and biased....as it is, I simply have no idea if it is economically more feasible to rehab the structures, or if it is more practical and wiser to raze and rebuild....that's beyond my pay grade.

Once again, follow the money....this sounds like another sweetheart deal....Nashville is Home to the Sweetheart Deal.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/21/13 at 8:27

Loner, some of the public housing was replaced with the Hope Project under Clinton. Those areas have been a success. The James Cayce homes are delapidated and it probably would be better in the long run to have them replaced - the Hope Project homes are a testament to that.

By: cwdunstin on 2/21/13 at 9:23

Here is an idea, evict all the residents that live there and are sponging off the Nashville tax payers and make them go work and find a place o their own the government won't be funding. Then after they are demolished either turn it into a community center or something else that would benefit the citizens of Nashville! Because everyone knows those run down public housing complexes are nothing but a mecca of drug and crime problems. Run their government dependent, tax payer swindling as%es out of town!

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/21/13 at 9:55

cw, are you aware that there are people who live there that have jobs? Where do you expect the working poor to be able to find affordable housing?

By: Rocket99 on 2/21/13 at 10:09

I'm sure cw would be more than willing to rent a room to the working poor to help them on their way up.

By: Rocket99 on 2/21/13 at 10:11

If the end result would be similar to those redone through the Hope Project, do them along that model. Those areas have a lot lower crime rate than they did before. People actually take pride in where they live because the places are decent.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/21/13 at 12:03

Rocky99, it is obvious that cw has no idea of who the people are. Must be an armchair cowboy.

By: ConservativeSailor on 2/21/13 at 12:45

Considering they were built between 1941 and 1954 there is a good chance that they contain lead-based paint, pipes and solder and asbestos. This will be an EPA nightmare just to raze and dispose of the debris. To attempt to rehab them, because of the lead and asbestos, would be even worse.
Rehab would involve removal of the lead and asbestos, protection of the surrounding area during the removal, work teams trained in hazmat removal, containment and remediation. It's no small task and could cost at least 10 times more than raze and replace. It wouldn't surprise me if they have knob-and-tube wiring. To replace that with a 3-wire grounded system up to code now would add a lot to the cost.
As far as the people who live there, I'm sure some have jobs and I'm sure some don't. But if you look at the bottom of this page you will see an ad for free cell phones with 250 minutes, free long distance and text messages. Those of us who pay for our cell phones subsidize the ones to whom that ad is directed. I do not understand (unless I apply Marxist doctrine) why cell phones are needed. AT&T will install a $13.00 landline.
I likewise do not understand why we are paying a subsidy of up to 100% for second and third generations of families' housing. I'd be willing to bet that there are folks living in these units whose families first moved in when they were new.
Bottom line, though, is that if they will continue to be supplied and they are that old, they should be replaced and not rehabilitated. I noticed that two of the stated objectives are "for the purposes of modernizing and reducing the density". If you reduce the density, one of two things will happen. Either there will have to be a NEW set of units to take some of the current residents or some of the current residents will be asked to leave.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/21/13 at 1:26

Good points, Sailor.