Cayce Place Apartments First Public Housing in 18 years

The construction of the 68-unit Cayce Place Apartments in East Nashville marks Davidson County's first new public housing in 18 years.

Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency and other officials broke ground Friday morning at the basketball courts at 544 Summer Place, the site of the future $11 million building. It is a key piece of MDHA's plans to transform James A. Cayce Homes, Nashville's largest public housing complex, into a $602 million mixed-income, mixed-use community.

"It will create better places for our public housing residents to live and will allow MDHA to use its dollars more efficiently. It's a win-win for everyone who is involved," said Mayor Karl Dean. "This is a good day for the residents of Cayce Place and this is a good day for our city."

The long-term plan, known as Envision Cayce, calls for 2,390 housing units, 11 acres of mini parks and 127,700 square feet of space for retail and other uses. MDHA ensures a one-for-one replacement of public housing units as well as new affordable and workforce units. Currently, the Cayce Homes has 716 subsidized units and is home to 2,000 residents. MDHA is committed to not displacing any residents and keeping all on-site while units are being built.

Cayce Place Apartments are expected to open in about 20 months, said Jim Harbison, the MDHA executive director. Cayce Homes residents will shift from an old building into the new one, allowing MDHA to tear down an existing building and construct a new one, he said.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will cover the majority of the project's costs. The Tennessee Housing Development Agency awarded a $500,000 grant for the project.

"This required an incredible amount of collaboration at every level," Harbison said. "This is the first step in a long road to finishing Envision Cayce."

When redevelopment discussions began in 2013, Cayce Homes residents formed Cayce United to make sure they had a voice in the process. Vernell McHenry, a Cayce United member and 14-year resident, watched city leaders ceremoniously break ground Friday and reflected on how the project will improve the lives of the residents.

"I'm happy for it — very, very happy," McHenry said. "I think it’s better for the future."

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