Proposed development has church and developer battling neighbors

Nashville 2019

A proposed development in East Nashville is pitting neighbor against neighbor. Owners of a large piece of land in Cleveland Park want to build a mixed-use development on the property. 

The nine parcels of land are on N. Sixth Street in between Cleveland Street and Vernon Winfrey Avenue. The 1.75 acres are currently zoned for residential, single-family homes. 

However, the land has been sitting empty for about 20 years. A neighbor who is also a developer wants to help rezone the property for a large commercial and residential development. 

Sean Roberge recently purchased six of the nine parcels for $1.2 million. The other three parcels belong to Cleveland Street Missionary Baptist Church. 

“I think the development will really enhance our neighborhood,” Roberge told News 2. “Nashville is going to continue to grow, I think we should grow with it.” 

However, there are some who are concerned about the zoning and what it would mean for the neighborhood.  

The zoning Roberge and the Church are asking for allows non-owner occupied short-term rental properties. That would mean someone could buy a condo on the property and rent it solely on websites like Airbnb and VRBO. 

“If we have ten condo buildings going in that are basically a mini hotel overnight what does that do to the neighborhood?” asked neighbor Joel Rakes. 

Rakes took his concerns online and created He says it’s a warning to neighbors about what they could live next to if the zoning passes.  

“It’s not that Airbnbs are all bad but when you have that much density in one place it doesn’t build the neighborhood up,” said Rakes. 

Roberge says a defacto hotel isn’t likely for the development. 

“The probability of the project becoming short-term rentals entirely and turning into a hotel is extremely low. Possible? Yes. Probable? No,” he said. 

Cleveland Street Missionary Baptist Church said the rezoning is a financial decision. The property would become more profitable if it is rezoned. 

“That will be very viable for the church. As a business decision, it will help develop even more ministries for children and adults as well,” Darrell Caldwell, Deacon for Cleveland Street Missionary Baptist Church. 

There is a meeting about the rezoning Thursday night for neighbors from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Zion House of Prayer Community Church at 1201 Joseph Avenue.

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