Metro Nashville’s recent growth has spurred an economic development boom, placing pressure on the city’s housing supply and rapidly increasing housing costs. To meet housing demand, the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force estimates that Nashville must add over 53,000 new housing units by 2030, 18,000 of which would need to be affordable to households earning below 80 percent of the area median income. Nashville and Davidson County’s consolidated government (known as Metro), housing developers, and investors are responding to this challenge by investing in new affordable housing and exploring voluntary development incentives.
This report and fact sheet consider another option that Nashville could pursue to make more land available for affordable housing: promoting and facilitating housing development on land belonging to institutional landowners. To better understand this option, we examined data on developable land owned by Nashville’s academic, faith-based, and health care anchor institutions, and researched models of institutional affordable housing partnerships that could be replicated in Nashville. We also analyzed housing development opportunities under both current and alternate zonings, as well as the transit-adjacency of developable parcels (legally distinct pieces of land).
Our analysis reveals significant potential for affordable housing development on land owned by Nashville’s colleges and universities and faith-based institutions, and for health care institutions to leverage land, financing, and institutional relationships to contribute to housing efforts. This presents an opportunity for Metro to consider new or revised zoning policies to bolster housing development.
We find that:
- Across 1,027 colleges and universities, faith-based institutions, and health care institutions in Metro Nashville, up to 5,539 units could be constructed on 986 parcels under current land availability and zoning laws.
- Under current zoning, 95 percent of these potential units (5,236 units) are developable on parcels owned by faith-based and academic institutions.
- Subdividing available institution-owned parcels that are zoned for single-family residential uses could accommodate up to 14,151 new units, 10,183 of which could come from land owned by faith-based institutions.
- If Metro rezoned parcels in commercial and retail districts for multifamily use, institution-owned land could accommodate up to 9,750 units.
As community anchor institutions, each of the institution types explored in this report have a stake in Nashville’s ability to meet its pressing housing shortages, which could address the city’s social determinants of health, bolster hiring and recruitment, and serve community needs while stabilizing institutional finances. Because Nashville faces state preemption on affordable housing efforts, which limits its ability to apply policy tools and incentives like inclusionary zoning, the city’s institutions must employ creative solutions to address housing needs. Partnering with local affordable housing developers can help institutions with limited experience in housing or community development to maximize underutilized land without bearing sole responsibility for assembling financing, overseeing construction, and managing properties.