Murfreesboro Housing Authority begins next phase of affordable housing redevelopment

The next phase of redeveloping Murfreesboro’s affordable housing is underway by the Murfreesboro Housing Authority (MHA), following the 2019 development of a master plan and planning for construction of new affordable housing at Oakland Court I and II in Murfreesboro.

A two-phased master plan for Mercury Court and Parkside, two affordable housing neighborhoods in Murfreesboro, will be developed. The first phase will include replacement of the 46 homes on the Parkside and Mercury property, and a later phase will provide 100 additional new homes on the Mercury Court property.

Changes in federal funding for affordable housing are driving redevelopment in Murfreesboro and across the nation. Funding for the Mercury Park master plan and new construction will be by secured loans and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits issued by the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, if MHA’s funding applications are approved. All affordable housing in Murfreesboro is managed by MHA. Affordable housing is rented, with residents paying 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities.

This multi-phase, multi-year effort will result in the city’s affordable housing being completely redeveloped and replaced, if enough funding can be secured.

“We are moving into the next major phase of redevelopment,” said Charlie L. Teasley, Chair of the MHA Board of Directors. “There is a demonstrated need for more affordable housing, as well as workforce housing, in Murfreesboro. By doing away with aging housing that can’t be repaired, and replacing it with something the residents and the community will be proud of, the overall value will be tremendous to Murfreesboro.”

The first step in the Mercury Park master planning process is sharing preliminary information and listening to residents, community leaders and the public about their ideas. A website, at http://www.mercuryparkmasterplan.com, is available and will be updated throughout the process. There will be two rounds of public engagement, one in late January and one in mid-February, before the final master plan is presented back to the community in late February.

“Even though this process is driven by the way funding has changed at the federal level, we’re fortunate here in Murfreesboro because the end result will be new affordable housing throughout the city,” said Thomas Rowe, MHA Chief Executive Officer. “Our focus right now is to talk with the residents, neighbors and others in the immediate area, and the public in general, to find out what they’d like to see in the way of affordable and workforce housing.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the public involvement process will be virtual. A Zoom meeting will be open to anyone interested Wednesday, January 27 from 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. The link to join the meeting will be published at http://www.mercuryparkmasterplan.com soon. Also, a survey will be posted at http://www.mercuryparkmasterplan.com for anyone interested to complete. The survey data will be reviewed and used in the planning process.

“It’s vital that we hear from the community about what they would like to see at Mercury Court and Parkside. We are reaching out to residents, to the neighboring homes and businesses in the area, and to citizens and community leaders who are interested to hear thoughts and ideas,” said Margaret Butler, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, McCarty Holsaple McCarty of Knoxville, Tennessee. Butler leads a team of firms working on the master plan, including Butler; Richard Foster, AIA, LAP, Director of Design, McCarty Holsaple McCarty; Kevin Guenther, P.L.A., LEED AP, Associate, Ragan Smith Associates of Murfreesboro; Bill Huddleston, P.E., R.L.S., Huddleston Steele Engineering, Inc. of Murfreesboro; Phyllis Vaughn and Phillip Vaughn, CPA, Vaughn Development Group, Inc. of Nashville; Orlando Diaz and Andin Faison, Partners Development; and Terri Sterling Donovan, APR, Principal, Sterling Communications of Murfreesboro.

What happens after the master plan is complete?

After the Mercury Park master plan is created and made final, and funding is secured, plans call for the 46 families currently living at Parkside to relocate temporarily to Mercury Court. During that time, Parkside and a portion of Mercury Court will be torn down. Once housing at Oakland Court I and II is complete, all residents of Mercury Court will relocate to Oakland Court. A projected timeline calls for Oakland Court homes to be complete by December 2022.

After Mercury Court residents relocate to Oakland Court, the approximately 15 acres at Mercury Court will be redeveloped to include affordable and workforce housing, as well as possible commercial development.

“Our goal is to design a new neighborhood at Mercury Court and Parkside, complete with new homes that blend with the surrounding area, while also expanding the number of affordable homes for Murfreesboro,” said Butler.

About affordable housing in the U.S.

Currently, affordable housing across the country, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, needs more than $26 billion in repairs. Because adequate funding has not been appropriated by Congress to maintain affordable housing, a new program, titled Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), has been instituted. RAD provides affordable housing authorities like the Murfreesboro Housing Authority the ability to enter into long-term contracts that facilitate the financing of improvements through public and private debt and equity in order to reinvest in affordable housing. (Source: https://www.hud.gov/RAD)

About the Murfreesboro Housing Authority

The Murfreesboro Housing Authority is a quasi-governmental entity that began in 1950 to provide affordable housing for low-income families. The mission of the Murfreesboro Housing Authority is to provide decent, safe and sanitary housing in good repair for eligible families in a manner that promotes serviceability, economy, efficiency and stability of the developments; and to utilize all available resources to maximize the social and economic opportunities of its residents. The MHA is governed by a five-member Board of Directors appointed by the Mayor of Murfreesboro.

How to participate

What: Mercury Park Master Plan
Who: The public is invited and encouraged to participate.
When: Online meeting via Zoom Wednesday, January 27, 2021
What time: 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.
How to join: Zoom link: To be published on the master plan’s website:
http://www.mercuryparkmasterplan.com

If you are unable to participate in the January 27 Zoom meeting, please complete the survey posted at
www.mercuryparkmasterplan.com. We want to hear your ideas about new affordable housing at Mercury Court!

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