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Developer halts plans after likely Civil War graves found

Posted on Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 5:00 am

In this Oct. 12, 2017 file photo, Greer Stadium field technicians Chandler Burchfield, left, and Cristina Oliveira use ground penetrating radar at a former minor league baseball park, in Nashville, Tenn. Developers Cloud Hill Partnership said Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, that the site is no longer viable for a commercial and residential project because archaeologists discovered what they believe are the graves of slaves at a nearby Civil War site. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

By JONATHAN MATTISE, Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Developers halted plans Friday for a sprawling entertainment and residential complex in Tennessee after archaeologists discovered what they believe are graves on a site near a Civil War fort built by slaves.

The decision gave preservationists a victory in the latest clash between historic conservation and growth in Nashville, a booming city with a complicated racial past.

Advocates of Fort Negley believe the findings give them long-sought validation that black laborers remain buried on the development site at the foot of the fort. They also have secured a commitment to use the land to honor the men and women who built one of the most significant Civil War sites for African-Americans, and one that has been allowed to fall into disrepair several times throughout its history.

Mayor Megan Barry, who had supported the development idea, said there won’t be any demolition or construction at the site until proper plans arise and are approved.

“The likelihood of graves means that we should reassess plans for this site so as to better honor and preserve the history of the men and women who died in the construction of a fort that helped save the Union,” Barry said in a statement.

Cloud Hill Partnership said the archaeological findings in part show their plan isn’t viable anymore. They wanted to build out the 21 acres (8 hectares) with 300 residential units, greenways, creative space and retail offerings. They also offered to build some affordable housing in a red-hot market, and promised to preserve the fort and its picturesque views.