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Bid to block Antioch affordable housing project disapproved

In a 9-0 vote, the Metro Planning Commission Thursday disapproved a downzoning request that would’ve blocked a planned 96-unit apartment project in Antioch for low-income residents.

But a key sponsor of the effort to cancel the current planned unit development for the 7.84-acre property at Forest View Drive said she still plans to bring the matter to a public hearing before Metro Council. A crucial second reading vote is set for July 5.

"Putting a third tax-credit apartment property in that one block is counter to the NashvilleNext goal of having a balance and variety of housing types," Metro Councilwoman Karen Johnson said.

Without a favorable recommendation from the planning commission, Johnson would need 27 votes to get the related ordinance formally introduced by Councilman Fabian Bedne passed. She’s confident of being able to retain most of the 29 co-sponsors.

Metro Councilwoman Karen Johnson (Photo: Submitted)

The downzoning effort drew an outcry from within the real estate community, which branded it as an attempt to eliminate Arkansas-based developer RichSmith Development’s development rights.

The Ridge at Antioch project planned 430 feet from Murfreesboro Pike is allowed under the area’s current zoning. Last year, the Tennessee Housing and Development Agency awarded RichSmith $11 million in low-income housing tax credits for the next 10 years.

RichSmith’s Managing Partner Arby Smith welcomed the planning commission’s vote, while urging Metro Council to respect its legal property rights and drop the legislation

“Surely there is a more appropriate, effective way for the sponsor to achieve the goal of spreading workforce housing across the county to limit concentration," Smith said. "Legislation to kill legal and approved projects after the fact only jeopardizes Nashville’s affordability mission by discouraging private developers like ours from entering the market."

Smith said he would continue steps toward building the workforce housing project in the neighborhood next to a fire hall and CVS pharmacy. "We are excited to contribute to Nashville’s goals by providing affordable living to nearly 100 working families," he said.

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