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What is "affordable" in regards to urban high rise living?


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I pose this topic because this is one that needs to be discussed, especially if the city wants to attract all income levels into the city. In Nashville there are no options for working and middle class residents. I am not talking about a 500 square foot unit in Encore for $150,000, or a 600 square foot unit in Bennie Dillion for $130,000. I am talking about a two bedroom, 1000 square foot unit for $150,000 to $175,000.

In many metropolitan cities this is a option. The buildings are like Encore, Cumberland, and Viridian except they are non amenity driven buildings. They are strictly turnkey properties. No concierge, no fitness room(s), no pool(s), no meeting room(s), no business center(s), no party room(s), and no other extras. They are turnkey because they can turn over easily, and if they are condo's, residents don't have monstrous maintenance fees for amenities they do not use. The unit is for sleeping and showering, living is actually in the city itself. Amenity driven buildings do the opposite of what they were built for. They keep people on the property rather than encouraging them to actually live in the city.

Nashville has only committed developments for the upper middle class and the wealthy, and the argument profit cannot be made by building stripped down non amenity buildings is simply is a falsification and a downright lie. Such buildings are commonplace all through Europe and other parts of the world. Currently in Chongqing, China they are building 43,000 affordable units and they are sold out before they are even built. They are being purchased by middle class working young couples.

Obviously Nashville is not China, but we do not have private developers working diligently enough with the public sector to build such units because the conservative thought is to avoid a public/private partnership at all costs.

As long as the public/private model is completely ignored in Nashville, the only units being built are for those making $75,000 and more per year.

For instance, if a unit in the CBD is selling for $225,000 the purchaser must have an income of $100,000 a year to secure a loan 2.25 times their income when the median family income in Nashville is around $53,000 a year. A family of that income level, usually qualifies for a home in the $125,000 range. In many cities, including the aforementioned city in China, median family income is half of that, yet they can afford condos in the city with views in the 30-60 story range. Could one get a 30th floor view in Nashville for $100,000 - $125,000?

The other "lie" that we are told is the fact suburban living is more affordable when in actuality it is not. With the cost of gas, automobiles, insurance, and ecological factors, the suburbs are becoming more expensive. The human costs are also higher. In the past two weeks in Nashville, two were killed in auto accidents while trying to drive back to the suburbs from work. If they had affordable units in the city, would they still be alive?

The last point is the ecological and environmental costs of suburban living. The flood of May 2010 mainly affected those living in suburban areas where homes were built to close to the river, and land development included deforestation, tributary altering, and topsoil removal during excavation.

So I ask again, what is affordable and when are we going to have an environmental and urban policy that addresses these issues? Can we have a public and private partnership to build affordable high rise units instead of building more ghettos and projects in the urban core?

(Granted Rolling Mill Hill is a start, and there are affordable units in Laurel House in the Gulch for $600 a month, but they are income restrictive with a long waiting list. I am referring to projects in the 300-500 unit range for incomes $30,000-$50,000 a year.)


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You are correct in noting the city lacks recently built high-rises with units more than 800 square feet and less than $175,000. Obviously, there are older mid-rises buildings -- including Wessex Tower, Windsor Tower, The Rokeby, Royal Arms and Wellington Arms -- at which you could likely get a 900-square-foot unit for less than $200,000. BUT these buildings are not in downtown or Midtown and many of their units likely are outdated. Sadly, Nashville is not advanced enough in its move toward more significant "cosmopolitanization" to offer a range of condo types and prices. Your best bet was probably scoring a unit at Terrazzo at auction. But that building, like so many recently built, is amenity driven and, as such, probably includes a steep HOA. I could be wrong.

As to your question, I would say "affordable" in Nashville is up to $200,000 and, ideally, no more than $175,000. You can't find those in new buildings with great views and fitness rooms. It's unfortunate -- but it's this city's reality for the foreseeable future.


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Michael, I agree construction costs for a steel and concrete tower are prohibitive in some respects for lower cost units, but so much of a buildings costs are amenities and multiple floor plans.

I would have seriously considered Fifth and Main had the location been in the Gulch, Sobro, and Mid Town and called 12th and Demonbreun etc... The location I suspect lead to the foreclosure as much as anything else.

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My wife and I are looking in the $200,000 range. Here is the quandary, the $400+ maintenance fees for amenities we will never use! I can live with 800 square feet for the price, but not the maintenance fees, so we will probably be looking for townhomes like Harrison Square once more are built. Although ICON, Viridian, Encore, Cumberland, Rhythm, and Adelicia are tremendous buildings, (Okay The cumberland not so much), I don't want to pay for swimming pools, fitness rooms, meeting rooms, and party rooms I will never use. The maintenance fees should be based on usage.

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The West Park area has a number of lower cost options available. I think there may be some bargans to be had in that area of town if you can stand the hodgepodge of architecture styles. I do agree there is a need for lower cost housing in the inner core that is available to the mid range income levels.

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