A city has a heartbeat, alive, evolving and always changing.
“One street over, it’s a totally different universe,” says one neighborhood resident.
That change is undeniable to both longtime locals and East Nashville newbies.
“I’m glad I got here when I did because property values are insane,” another native vents.
In 20 years, East Nashville has transformed. Commercial businesses, building booms before our eyes; on the ground and in the neighborhoods walk the people who have witnessed the time and change.
“I moved all the way here, six or seven minutes from Porter, and I was there a really long time,” says Ali Vandiver.
Vandiver has made a home in the neighborhood with her family.
“When I first moved here, definitely a lot of artists, musicians, you could afford to live here,” she says, half laughing.
The change came fast and hasn’t slowed down.
“The first thing I noticed, it was a $150,000 car that drove by me,” Vandiver says. “It’s really hard to live here now, it’s very expensive.”
That signaled the massive growth and sprawl up Gallatin, and into these streets. There’s been an influx of wealth in spots, infill, and gentrification in others. Yet Vandiver says there’s still a true sense of East Nashville among the people.
Locally owned thrives here, more obvious than ever in a record shop, in the heart of Music City.
“I’ve raised my daughter here,” she says. “My daughter, who has a growing vinyl collection can walk one block over here and find something new. It’s great.”
She loves the character and culture. But shares the concerns too. There’s always the conversation about crime, and the perception, true or not.
“Everyone’s like, over the river and through the hood mentality, still, which we’re not,” says Vandiver. “We’ve actually gone down in crime in a day when crime is rising.”
She’s right. The neighborhood experienced a 26% drop in violent crime from 2012 to 2018.
Another mother, and near 20-year resident, Denise Ceule, is aware as well.
“There’s risk there, there’s a risk in any metro area,” she says.
Yet it hasn’t impacted the growth, or the passion the people have for their hood. “The buzz is just so hot everywhere, I’m waiting for it to stop, right? There was none of this commercial and none of these restaurants. So, I kind of like that part of the development,” says Ceule.
Of course, with anything, there’s good and bad. And you see it, says Ceule.
“The re-gentrification of it, watching families that have been here for years be priced out of their own properties because real estate taxes got so high,” Ceule says.
It’s her biggest difference, some argue the biggest price.
But the biggest constant, year after year, the love growing in this community. The peace they push for, along with the promise of more change.