Nashville’s housing authority has granted the Martha O’Bryan Center a nearly three-year extension to fundraise for the nonprofit’s new school in East Nashville’s James Cayce public housing complex. And despite the request, housing officials say they’re not worried about the future of the project.
Nashville’s housing director has called the school “the glue” that will hold Cayce’s
new mixed income community together, which is why his agency is taking the unprecedented risk of financing the $25 million needed to build the school.
But last week, the Metro Development and Housing Agency granted the Martha O’Bryan Center an extension on the initial $5 million it fronted to get the project off the ground. The housing agency gave the nonprofit an 11-month extension on each of its three payments, the first of which was scheduled for later this year.
Martha O’Bryan’s CEO, Marsha Edwards, said the request is only a formality, not an issue with the nonprofit’s ability to raise money.
“All that’s happening is that the fundraising is following the project,” Edwards said. She contended that the organization couldn’t begin raising money until it had the renderings for the building.
Housing director Jim Harbison agreed, calling the move an “administrative adjustment.”
But MDHA board member Melvin Black is more skeptical. The new school building has been
years in the making, and he’s voted against it from the outset. Black believes that asking for so much extra time to pay MDHA back could be a harbinger for problems to come.
“You probably would have some concerns in terms of their request, as to how it’s really going,” Black says, referring to the organization’s fundraising attempts.
In addition to the initial $5 million, MDHA officials say the financing plan includes a $14.7 million loan from private investors and $5.3 million in federal tax credits.