Riverchase Rallying for Rental Right to Affordability


Photo provided by Isaac Swafford of Stand Up

Chloe Hall

The battle for affordable housing in Nashville is known all too well by the residents of Riverchase Apartment, who are currently operating at the front lines of the fight for fairness. The pattern of corporate development displacing all the old tenants in a building to usher in new, higher-paying residents is well known throughout Nashville history.

This Tuesday, October 4 at Stand Up Nashville, NOAH, The Equity Alliance, SEIUN, and LiUNA (the labor union that represents workers at Vanderbilt University and Medical Center) will be holding a Rally Against Displacement at 5:30 p.m. Residents and community members will be calling on Metro Council to vote no on the rezoning bill. This is the last chance for Riverchase residents to fight the rezone to prevent Riverchase from setting a precedent for developers to take advantage of renters in the future.

Metro Council must approve the rezoning of the area into a mixed-use development before the developer Cypress Real Estate Advisors (CREA), so it can build retail space and increase the number of units on the property from 212 to 1,150. The rezone vote has been pushed back for months but is expected to be finalized this upcoming Tuesday. 

In the past couple of months, Riverchase residents, with the help of Stand Up Nashville, have been negotiating with CREA for a Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) that guarantees affordable units in the new development. Negotiations have reached a standstill with neither party completely satisfied with the proposed conditions. For instance, Stand Up has requested affordable units at 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI), but CREA is unwilling to go below 80%.

Now, if the rezone is deferred again, CREA has threatened to abandon their plan for any affordable units and instead build 245 market-rate units, which would completely eliminate the chance for any of Riverchase residents to return to the development. 

In reference to the Metro Council vote, development manager Stephen Buchanan told WPLN News, The city will have to decide how to demonstrate to residents and developers that they’re really committed to addressing affordable housing.” However, if this vote moves forward without a well-negotiated CBA, this could set a dangerous precedent for developers that they are allowed to displace our working class, Black, immigrant renters and then pit community groups against one another for their own profit.

Isaac Swafford, an organizer with Stand Up who has been helping lead the negotiation pressure for months, said, “We want every RiverChase resident to have a safe, stable place to call home. We want there to be a real pathway for them to return to the property at rents they can actually afford. Finally, we want there to be long-term affordability protections without loopholes.”

Swafford continued, “If CREA gets their way next week, the community is guaranteed none of these things. What’s happening at RiverChase is NOT a model to be lifted up but rather sets a terrible precedent for the whole East Bank. We must make sure it NEVER happens again.”

It is now up to Metro Council to decide the future of development conversations, and whether working-class renters will have a seat at the table.