Mercury Park Master Plan options presented Feb. 10-11 for input and review

Feb 05, 2021 at 07:00 am by Voice Wire

Mercury Park

With more than 800 on a waiting list for affordable housing in Murfreesboro and 900 on a second waiting list for Section 8 housing, adding more affordable homes to existing acreage already owned by the Murfreesboro Housing Authority is a priority for CEO Thomas Rowe. 

“Right now, we have so many people on both waiting lists that we have stopped taking applications at all,” Rowe said. 

On Feb. 10 and 11, a number of master plan options for redevelopment at Parkside and Mercury Court, two affordable housing neighborhoods in Murfreesboro near Patterson Park Community Center, will be presented to residents and the community. The first round of public engagement was Jan. 27 and 28; the second round is next week, Feb. 10 and 11, and a final master plan will presented back to the community Feb. 24 and 25. 

How the public can participate

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities for the public to provide feedback and comments are virtual.  Here are four ways to participate:

1.  A virtual meeting via Zoom will be held from 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10.  You can obtain the Zoom meeting link at mercuryparkmasterplan.com

2.  If you are unable to participate in the Zoom meeting, you can review information and complete an online survey at mercuryparkmasterplan.com.  The master plan options will be added to the website late next week.

3.  You can follow the Murfreesboro Housing Authority on Facebook to review ongoing updated information about the master planning process.  Comments on Facebook will be logged and considered throughout the master planning process.

4.  You can add your name and email address to a contact form at www.mercuryparkmasterplan.com and we will send you email updates.

A survey was mailed to nearly 300 addresses in the immediate area surrounding Parkside and Mercury Court Feb. 2.

About Parkside and Mercury Court

An additional 24 homes, added to the 76 already there, is being considered as part of Mercury Court’s redevelopment; Parkside will have its 46 homes replaced.   Both Parkside and Mercury Court were built in the 1950s. 

The first round of public engagement was Jan. 27 and 28; the second round is next week, Feb. 10 and 11, and a final master plan will presented back to the community Feb. 24 and 25. 

“We are folding into our planning process the feedback we heard last week from residents and citizens,” said Margaret Butler, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, McCarty Holsaple McCarty. 

“There were multiple comments about the value of the Patterson Park Community Center to the residents and to the neighborhood,” Butler said.  “We also had feedback about what would fit best into the existing neighborhood and about the importance of a safe, walkable neighborhood with green spaces and connections.”

Butler said the Mercury Court and Parkside developments are situated very differently from Oakland Court, which her firm and team worked on in 2019’s master planning process.  “Here, we have a four-lane highway which is a key entrance to the city.  We have a commercial district nearby and we have a neighborhood where private investment is occurring.  We want to be sure the new Parkside and Mercury Court developments fit in seamlessly and are an asset to the area.”

Why is redevelopment of Parkside and Mercury Court happening?

Changes in federal funding guidelines for affordable housing is driving redevelopment for that housing across the country.  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)

What happens once the master plan is complete?

After the master plan is developed and adopted, MHA will apply for funding to rebuild Parkside and Mercury Court.  If funding is obtained, the 2.5-acre Parkside will be rebuilt first, replacing the 46 homes, and a later phase will develop 100+ new homes on the Mercury Court property. Currently, there are 74 single-family and duplex homes on the Mercury Court property. 

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 built, 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 14.7 acres at Mercury Court will be redeveloped to include affordable and workforce housing, as well as a small amount of possible commercial development.

At Parkside, funding requirements mean that the apartments there will be replaced one-for-one.   

“For example, there are eight one-bedroom apartments currently at Parkside,” Rowe said.  “We will replace those one-bedroom apartments one-for-one.  While the construction will be brand new from the ground up, we won’t be adding to the number of apartments or changing the mix of apartment sizes at the Parkside location.”

Funding for the Mercury Park master plan and new construction, if it is obtained, will be by secured loans and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits issued by the Tennessee Housing Development Agency.

Mercury Court will be funded differently than Parkside; Mercury Court will not be subsidized but will have income limits if tax credits are attached. 

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.  Care has been taken to replace the housing in phases, so residents have a place to live while construction occurs.  Currently at Oakland Court, ground is being cleared and foundations are poured for new affordable housing there following a 2019 master planning process that drew strong interest from residents and the public at large. An additional 74 affordable homes are being added at Oakland Court, in addition to replacing the 76 homes already there.   

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. 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. 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, Feb. 10, 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

If you are unable to participate in the Feb. 10 Zoom meeting, please complete the survey posted at mercuryparkmasterplan.com.  We want to hear your ideas and feedback about new affordable housing at Parkside and Mercury Court.

 

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