Are Mixed Uses Nashville’s Affordable Housing Future? Major League Soccer Is Beginning To Think So.

Another Nashville stadium that could use a little mixed use development. Parking lots under affordable housing, maybe? What about a little imagination to solve the affordable housing crisis!

Zoning has weaknesses. It is exclusionary in nature, making it easy to divide one kind of neighborhood from another. That can lead to ‘all or nothing’ controversies like the one linked below. It’s recent development proposal for Cincinnati, Ohio — a city which enjoys a reputation as a national ‘soccer city’. The problem? Building a new soccer stadium would appear to come at the expense of an entire neighborhood of affordable housing. Try: Cincinnati ‘Progress’: A New Football Home, Or A Crime Against Affordable Housing?

Things might have set off in the same direction in Nashville, Tennessee, which would like to attract a Major League Soccer team. But after considerable negotiation, a mixed use proposal has crept to the fore. Read more at Nashville Public Radio: Nashville Stadium Plan Lands Coveted Agreement, But Final Vote Uncertain

Mixed-use neighbourhoods? Developers love them, even though building unprofitable affordable housing may be part of the mix. The consolation? Tasty commercial projects, like soccer stadiums, as well as market rate housing to keep profit-minded developers happy.

Moreover, growing evidence suggests that ‘ghetto-ized’ neighbourhoods, whether predominantly low-income black tenements or all-white middle-class ranch houses, are bad for the health of both a city and its citizens. Try: Inclusionary Zoning: What Is It? Why Do It? Who’s Doing It?

Certainly, evolving development in mixed use neighbourhoods is unlikely to produce expensive and time wasting NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) class and race wars that are disguised as ‘preserving neighborhood character.’ Not when all the folks you love to hate already live in your neighbourhood!

Zoning is not well suited to the concept of mixed housing and commercial development. At least, not without modifications such as site plans that can be enshrined in zoning law.

Alternately, other forms of zoning regulation are emerging. For a look at one promising kind, try: Form-Based Code: What Is It? Why It Different From Conventional Planning? How Does It Help Affordable Housing?


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