NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nashville broke ground on its newest affordable housing project that will offer nearly offer nearly 240 units to residents making 60% or less of Nashville’s median income. 

The Ben Allen Affordable Housing community will be situated on 11 acres in East Nashville. Private equity firm The Clear Blue Company, based in East Nashville, headed the project with the hopes of making a dent in Nashville’s affordable housing crisis. Founder and CEO Nick Ogden recounted acquiring the land from the man who previously owned the property.

“Jimmy and I talked about how many of his colleagues and coworkers couldn’t afford to live in the city anymore, and I made the commitment to Mr. Ralph and his wife sitting in his living room that this site would one day be the home of work force housing,” Ogden said.  

Approximately 80,000 cubic yards of rock now fill what once served as a dairy farm. Ogden chuckled about moving literal and figurative mountains to make the project happen.  

“Affordable housing has been a major problem for the city and we’re excited to be able to do something about it, and it’s been hard; this has been a really difficult project. You know, we had 50 different people working on our closing calls trying to make this happen, and it speaks to the complexity of affordable housing,” Ogden said.  

The project will encompass seven buildings comprised of 238 units. Rent will be affordable to people earning 60% of the median income in Nashville, along with five units set aside for tenants making 30% or below the median income, as well as five units for people experiencing situational homelessness.  

“This deal is affordable and will be for 99 years, and what I mean by that is people who earn 60% of the area’s media income will be able to afford to live here in a non-cost burdened way. They’ll be able to spend a third of their paycheck on rent, which is the definition of non-cost burden,” Ogden said. “Keeping our rents affordable will allow and foster upper mobility among our residents. They’ll be able to save more of their money, spend less of it on rent and, hopefully, be able to get ahead.” 

(Source: The Clear Blue Company)

The project has more than a dozen partners, including the THDA Barnes Fund, Walker & Dunlop, Appalachian Home and Health, Regions Bank, the MDHA Affordable Housing Gap Fund, and Bacar Construction, just to name a few. In addition, the Amazon Housing Equity Fund offered the project a $16 million loan. 

“This project is a great example of how an affordable housing community can help its residents with connections to a nearby greenway, network or walking trails, as well as nearby transit, schools, shopping and more, and everything that Nashville has to offer,” said Senthil Sankara, Amazon Housing Equity Fund Managing Principal. 

As Mayor John Cooper’s term soon comes to an end, he touted the project as a major step in solving Nashville’s housing crisis.  

“[I think people] are astounded at 5,000 affordable units coming online in one fiscal year for a city this size,” Cooper said. 

Planners hope to complete the project in 24 months and interested tenants will be able to apply through MDHA.