Trevecca Nazarene University

Walden Woods: creating community

(This article was published in the Spring 2014 issue of Micah Mandate - written by Christy Ulmet.)

Professors and alums are out walking dogs, jogging around the neighbor- hood, and enjoying the morning. Trees are lined down the middle of the streets and sidewalks inviting pedestrians to stroll through.

This is what the new proposed neighborhood just east of campus may someday look like. The project, Walden Woods at Trevecca, dreamed up some 25 years ago, is underway. Two new houses stand completed on Nance Lane as the front of what will someday be known as Walden Woods at Trevecca.

The goal of Walden Woods is to help create a sense of community, provide scholarship funds for students to attend Trevecca, and impact the surrounding neighborhoods.

“Our goal is not to be a gated community on campus, but to be a part of Nashville and to be a part of the local community, economically and socially,” said Trevecca Provost Steve Pusey, who is one of the first residents of Walden Woods. “It strengthens who we are as an urban community. We want the university to be good neighbors to the community. We hope it will help rejuvenate the area. It’s part of living and working together.”

Walden Woods will cost $13 million to build. Plans call for 12 single-family homes, 24 row houses, and 120 condominium units.

“Sixty families have expressed serious interest in the project so far,” said David Caldwell, executive vice president for finance and administration.

Dan Boone, Trevecca’s president, estimates 200 new residents will live in the neighborhood.

Caldwell, along with others, have envisioned this community living space for years.

“There have been a lot of comments from folks that would like to live around the campus. There are just not that many places available in the surrounding areas,” Caldwell said. “We’re hoping that there are a lot of people interested in the college, be it employees, retirees, alums, or people that just appreciate the school that would move in there.”

Walden Woods will not only benefit the community aspect at the school, but it will also help the school provide scholarships.

When a person is ready to build in the neighborhood, they will sign a contract with a build- er to complete the work. The homeowners will execute life estate agreements with the school, giving them ownership of the home until the day they die. Once the residents pass on, the property would revert back to the school. What the school envisions is to have 10 to 12 life estate trusts in the community. Every time one of those properties rolls over, the new proceeds would go into new scholarship funds. The money used to purchase the home by its next owners would go back to the school as endowment scholarships in order to help more students attend Trevecca, Caldwell explained.

“Hopefully, short term, it creates money to pay back the school for its investment in the land and then some. And hopefully long term, it is a vehicle that generates consistent income for the endowment scholarship fund,” Caldwell said.