Creating Places: A Citizen Observer's Look at Nashville's Built Environment

Writer's Note: William Williams' interest in the manmade environment dates to 1970, at which point the then-young Williams started a collection of postcards of city skylines. The collection now numbers 1,000-plus cards. Among the writer's specific interests are exterior building design, city district planning, demographics, signage, mixed-use development, mass transit and green/sustainable construction and living. Williams began his Creating Places column with The City Paper in February 2005. The column in its original form was discontinued in September 2008 and reinvented via this blog in November 2008. Creating Places can be found on the home page of the website of The City Paper, at which Williams has worked in various capacities since October 2000.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Creating Places: Nance Place

Construction of Nance Place, the "workforce housing" multi-unit rental building on Rolling Mill Hill, is now fully underway. N-Place should be an attractive building, as Nashville-based DA|AD and the local office of Moody Nolan are teaming to handle design work. Of note, MDHA is serving as developer, with the agency having been a key part of the development of three nearby residential buildings (originally meant to have been condos) on the site and that continue to sit empty and in receivership. Not to fully criticize MDHA, as the development of the aforementioned trio of buildings hit all types of snags and difficulties beyond the agency's control. But MDHA has no successful track record in developing housing other than significantly subsidized structures geared toward, put bluntly, folks living on Section 8 vouchers, unemployment checks and minimum wage. A facility similar to Nance Place —— Laurel House in the Gulch —— was developed by The Housing Fund Inc. (which is not directly related to MDHA). In short, N-Place will be MDHA's first solely developed multi-unit housing development targeting prospective residents who make $2o,000 a year or more. It's a major undertaking and one, given MDHA's limited experience in such efforts, that carries no guarantee of success.


  1. William, thanks for the regular updates on new projects. I have several related questions:
    1. Has the federal government bought all the property at 7th and Church for the proposed courthouse?
    2. Was the property at the corner of Demonbreun and 8th (behind the existing courthouse/kefauver buildings) considered for the new CH?
    3. If not, then why? It seems that the property at the could be utilized in such a way as to create a safety barrier (a'la the Fed Reserve Bldg in Atlanta), or even, situating the building at an angle away from the corner and streets, such that the offices and area of occupancy of the building would be farther back from the street.
    4. Does the federal government already own that site? There is a parking garage on part of that site, but a new building would allow more parking. Also that small street behind the Kefauver building would (no doubt) need to be closed-off to public traffic.

    Anyway, just my thoughts.
    Scott Payne

  2. Scott,

    Some strong questions. I'm fairly certain the Feds don't own the land bordered by Church Street/Seventh/Eighth/Commerce. For example, Josh Smith still owns the Berger Building.

    As to the other site, not sure. I recall from early 2001 when the courthouse project was announced) is that everybody wants the building to front Church (closer to law offices, for one thing).


  3. In your statement above you do not give MDHA much credit. I feel that MDHA cares about the underserved and families that have low incomes. If it wasn't for MDHA what will be people who could not afford a decent place to live do. Upper class people have nice places to rent or buy why can't lower class people be treated equally. If it was not for MDHA you probably would not have a job.