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orulz

Asheville Updates

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Hey, since I haven't been able to go home to Asheville for months and probably won't get the chance for a long time, I'm curious for updates about some of the projects happening downtown. If someone wanted to provide photos, that'd be great too!

  • 21 Battery Park was looking nearly done back in December; is it open for occupancy yet? Any idea what tenants will occupy the first-story retail in that building?

  • I see that they're putting up the steel frame for 12 South Lexington - but those photos are a month old.

  • The first building of the five-story, three-building complex called Asheville Gateway at 237 Broadway supposedly broke ground in April, with the second to follow soon after. How is that project coming?

  • Has ground been broken for Lexington Station or Griffin Apartments yet?

  • The parking deck plus mixed use building at Haywood Street by the Battery Park Apartments isn't under construction yet, is it? I read a recent article in the Citizen-Times about newfound neighborhood resistance.

  • The Pack Square Renaissance broke ground a little while ago; any noticable progress yet?

  • What about the 10-story building at College and Woodfin? I understand that got approved by city council a couple weeks ago; Any signs/fences up there yet?

Thanks.

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Hey, since I haven't been able to go home to Asheville for months and probably won't get the chance for a long time, I'm curious for updates about some of the projects happening downtown. If someone wanted to provide photos, that'd be great too!
  • 21 Battery Park was looking nearly done back in December; is it open for occupancy yet? Any idea what tenants will occupy the first-story retail in that building?

    <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The construction fence is still up and they don't seem to be upfitting the retail quite yet. I think they are concentrating on the apartments. I think that there are a LOT of customized finishes in those units.

I see that they're putting up the steel frame for 12 South Lexington - but those photos are a month old.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

More steel. The building is visable on the skyline from Merrimon, north of town around GreenLife and BoJ's (*Little Pigs closed down)

The first building of the five-story, three-building complex called Asheville Gateway at 237 Broadway supposedly broke ground in April, with the second to follow soon after. How is that project coming?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Not sure

Has ground been broken for Lexington Station or Griffin Apartments yet?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Don't know if Lexington Station was legit... Chances are that the proposal was just a stunt to raise the land value and get a better appraisal ie "highest and best use" before the city tries to buy the property to expand the civic center... (just my opinion) I forget which are the griffin apartments.

The parking deck plus mixed use building at Haywood Street by the Battery Park Apartments isn't under construction yet, is it? I read a recent article in the Citizen-Times about newfound neighborhood resistance.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think the city is still looking for funding and/or development partners. I read an editorial about some opposition to it, but it seemed like a stakeholder gripe rather than justified complaint to me.

The Pack Square Renaissance broke ground a little while ago; any noticable progress yet?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Not a whole lot, probably waiting til after summer festival season is over Bele Chere, ShinDig, etc (which i guess would be soon). Related: Council is starting to balk on the College/Patton two way traffic proposal (500K the city doesn't have).

What about the 10-story building at College and Woodfin? I understand that got approved by city council a couple weeks ago; Any signs/fences up there yet?

Thanks.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Not sure

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Thanks a lot for the info!!

Don't know if Lexington Station was legit... Chances are that the proposal was  just a stunt to raise the land value and get a better appraisal ie "highest and best use" before the city tries to buy the property to expand the civic center... (just my opinion)  I forget which are the griffin apartments.
Lexington Station is actually on South Lexington, on the Union Transfer property a couple blocks south of the 12 South Lexington building currently under construction. It's a 3-story mixed use project. I'm pretty sure this one is legit; they have site plans and all.

Griffin Apartments is also on the south slope, but further to the west. It's a 3~4 story, mixed-income residential project by Mountain Housing Opportunities. There are renderings floating around for this project, too.

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Thanks a lot for the info!!

Lexington Station is actually on South Lexington, on the Union Transfer property a couple blocks south of the 12 South Lexington building currently under construction. It's a 3-story mixed use project. I'm pretty sure this one is legit; they have site plans and all.

Griffin Apartments is also on the south slope, but further to the west. It's a 3~4 story, mixed-income residential project by Mountain Housing Opportunities. There are renderings floating around for this project, too.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Oh yeah Lexington Station, I thought you were talking about the North Lexington proposal that John Lantzius announced this summer.

Are Griffin Apartments on Grove Street? They have cleared the site for a mixed income project there. Perhaps some unground utility work has begun, but I have not seen any Foundation/Footing work yet.

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The first building of the five-story, three-building complex called Asheville Gateway at 237 Broadway supposedly broke ground in April, with the second to follow soon after. How is that project coming?
More info about this project at ashevillegateway.com and in this PDF file from communitycorridors.com

These will be 5-story, "green" buildings.

(actually, the one from communitycorridors.com is taken from www.archive.com - the original site seems to be out of order. Not a good sign, perhaps?)

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Okay, just found out about this one.

A Staples at Merrimon and Orange.

Here is the Merrimon Avenue elevation:

staples_merrimon.gif

And, to give you an idea of the context, here is an aerial:

staples_merrimon_aerial.jpg

What in Blue Blazes is up with this?!

Some people will tell you that downtown ends once you cross under I-240 but I don't buy it. This is less than a quarter mile from the shops on Lexington and Broadway. The interchange at Merrimon and I-240 is going to be reconfigured as a diamond to get rid of the loops and make it more pedestrian friendly. This downtown Asheville.

This lot is on a very steep hill going up Merrimon. Tough to develop. And staples made it extremely clear that they want to do nothing to make it fit in with the community - they wanted to build cheaply, close to I-240, in a very visible location with a billboard of a wall facing the interstate. This is an example of developers saying "community, city, appearances be damned, we want maximum profit and we don't care about anything else." Why couldn't Asheville have ended up with something nice, like the Office Depot in Charlotte's South End?

There was an ordinance requiring that structures be built to the sidewalk with parking behind, but strangely there was nothing in the code saying that there must be an entrance facing the street. So, With the stone retaining wall combined with the height of the store, you're talking about a wall of stone and EFIS, more than 30 feet tall, looming a couple of feet from the sidewalk on Merrimon Avenue. You have got to be kidding me.

According to the article, city council is considering changes to the weak ordinances and zoning to prevent anything like this from happening again. But the cat's out of the bag now, and this may have killed any chances that Merrimon had at becoming an attractive urban corridor. Who's going to want to build a multi-story, mixed-use structure nearby with this piece of poo sitting there?

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More info about this project at ashevillegateway.com and in this PDF file from communitycorridors.com

These will be 5-story, "green" buildings.

(actually, the one from communitycorridors.com is taken from www.archive.com - the original site seems to be out of order. Not a good sign, perhaps?)

I drove down broadway and didn't see any action on this project. Not even ground broken.

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OK, here is a list of all the recent / current / proposed projects in Asheville that I can think of. Over the past 10 years there have been a huge number of historical conversions and renovations but I'm sticking to new construction for now.

Complete:

  1. 21 Battery Park (downtown) 7-story new residential

  2. Sawyer Motor Annex (downtown) 3-story office/residential

  3. Staples (Merrimon) 1-story retail (aka the great wall of Staples aka the city's biggest missed opportunity)

Under construction:
  1. 12 South Lexington (downtown) 7-story residential

  2. Lexington Station (downtown) 4-story residential

  3. County Jail Annex (downtown) 6-story jail

Approved/Proposed:
  1. The Dixon on Biltmore (downtown) 12-story residential

  2. College & Oak (downtown) 10-story office

  3. 60 North Market (downtown) 9-story residential

  4. The Glen Rock (river district) 7-story residential

  5. Elizabeth / Starnes Building (Broadway) 5-story residential

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Thanks for compiling these.

What about Griffin Apartments?

Also, though I know you excluded renovations, "oxford place" at 52 Biltmore Ave. looks like its nearing completion. A 4 story historic building being renovated into 18 condos and 3,386 sq ft of streetfront retail. Some pretty recent photos can be found on their website.

Asheville seems to be coming along extremely nicely. I'm particularly excited about 60 N Market and 12 S Lexington -- infill that perfect is pretty hard to come by.

Have you heard any news about West Asheville/Haywood Road? That's another urban pocket which seems to have come a long way recently. I vaguely remember hearing some news about new construction (beyond more renovations), but I may have been hallucinating.

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Another current project I missed is the new Chamber of Commerce north of 240 on Montford Avenue. And yeah, I missed Griffin Apartments too. The new hotels on Tunnel Road just beyond the tunnel are certainly big, and almost close enough to count... but not quite. Perhaps I should make a seperate list for "dead" projects. The Grove Park Inn proposals and the St. Lawrence parking deck could go there.

If we're going to talk about renovations and restorations, it depends on how far back you go. Recently, there's The Aston and well as Oxford Place which you already mentioned. Last year there was 37 Hiawassee among others; in the preceding years there were projects like Grove Arcade and Sawyer Motors; before that was the the Asheville Hotel (Malaprop's); further still (talking late 80s/early 90s here) landmark restorations like the Haywood Park Hotel and the Flat Iron Building. There's really no definitive beginning or end to it, but if you want to make a list you're quite welcome!

Taken a walk down Lexington Avenue lately? Wow, the seven story 12 South Lexington looks even more impressive because of how narrow the street is.

Lexington station is kinda so-so. The foundation for the second building is complete and it will include retail along Hilliard, and the concept of infill on the south slope is great. But the hardee-plank siding and pitched roof makes it look like a suburban apartment complex plunked down in the middle of downtown, rather than a landmark urban development.

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asheville01.jpg

Oxford Place^^^ 50 years ago you couldn't have taken this picture because the Swannanoa Hotel would have been in the way. Don't know if the Swannanoa burned or was demolished, but it's been gone for decades, leaving a gaping hole in the Broadway streetscape.

asheville02.jpg

Lexington Station^^^ More residential downtown, great. Modular construction, also great if unconventional. Underground parking? fantastic. But the use of hardi-plank siding and a pitched, black shingle roof kind of makes it look like a suburban apartment complex. However, this is not a particularly prominent location, and the "feature" building of the development (the one currently under construction along Hilliard that will include ground-floor retail) may do better from a design standpoint.

asheville03.jpg

12 South Lexington^^^ 7/8 stories looks impressive when it's on a street that narrow.

asheville04.jpg

21 Battery Park^^^

asheville05.jpg

The Great Wall of Staples.^^^ It looks even more imposing from below. I stopped by, and they were open although they hadn't had their grand opening yet.The store seemed startlingly empty for the holidays. But who can blame folks for not shopping at a hideous fortification like that? Zoning codes along Merrimon require very small setbacks for an urban feel, but there is no requirement of entryways on the street. Staples was probably using this design as a threat - "let us build at the back of the lot with parking in front or this is what you'll end up with" - but the city didn't cave in, the plan backfired, and everybody lost. The city is now scrambling to adjust zoning laws so this won't happen again. I have no problem with Staples being on Merrimon, but I just don't see it succeeding in a building like this. I wonder if they could hollow out underneath to make room for a street-level tenant?

asheville06.jpg

The new county jail^^^

asheville07.jpg

The Grove Apartments under construction ^^^ (you can't really tell from the picture, but this building will fit in perfectly on this street among the 3-4 story, 1920s era apartment buildings.

asheville08.jpg

This building ^^^ (center) would be demolished in the city's parking deck plan and my "battle square" idea. No big loss. The reason would be to build a connector street that would go through there to just to the right of the Vanderbilt Hotel (background/left)

asheville09.jpg

Blurry picture, but the two rightmost buildings (one two-story vintage parking deck and one dilapidated 1-story retail building) would also be demolished. Once again, no big loss.

asheville10.jpg

Under the city's parking deck plan, this building ^^^ would have to go. Under my idea, it could either stay or go, if it stayed it would be the only building on the same block as a public square.

asheville11.jpg

The blank wall on the BellSouth building ^^^ that would be covered up by the parking deck in my plan

asheville12.jpg

The more attractive side of the BellSouth bldg.^^^ This is across the street from the Grove Arcade.

asheville13.jpg

Looking up Hiawassee Street from the intersection with Lexington Avenue^^^. In the background you see 37 Hiawassee, a recent hotel -> condo conversion. In the foreground is where John Lantzius's 3-ish story Lexington Park building would go.

asheville14.jpg

Looking down the newly streetscaped College Street from the roundabout at Oak Street^^^. Had to tweak this one for brightness, it was getting late. To the right is where a new 10-story county office / ground floor retail building would go.

asheville15.jpg

"Look!"^^^ This is painted at the crosswalks for the roundabout in Asheville to remind people which direction to look before crossing. Seems corny but it actually helps.

asheville16.jpg

The Saywer Building in the foreground and the Sawyer Annex in the background. ^^^ Taken from the corner of Coxe and Hilliard.

asheville17.jpg

The Dhrumor Building (fg) and the S&W Building(bg) ^^^

asheville18.jpg

The venerable Grove Arcade ^^^

asheville19.jpg

The Flat Iron Building ^^^

asheville20.jpg

Haywood Street ^^^

asheville21.jpg

The newly restored and renovated Asheville Savings Bank building^^^

asheville22.jpg

The interior of the atrium at Haywood Park Hotel, just off Haywood Street.^^^

asheville23.jpg

The Orange Peel, shining orange in the sunset ^^^

asheville24.jpg

A neat little corner off Wall Street.^^^ This is a great example of creative use of available space downtown.

asheville25.jpg

The new federal building shining in the sunset.^^^ Sucks that the front entrance has been closed since the bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995.

asheville26.jpg

Looking west towards City/County Plaza from Pack Square ^^^

asheville27.jpg

Carolina Lane ^^^ one of several such alleyways in downtown Asheville. How's that for some "grit?". It lines up on axis with the BB&T Building.

asheville28.jpg

And lastly, the Glen Rock Hotel^^^. This once-grand building down near the river was right across the street from the old train station. The station was demolished in the 1960s, but the building remains. Two years from now, picture this building restored for residential use, plus a 7-story, 100 unit apartment / retail building to the left. Now we're talking!

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Thanks for the photo tour. It's been a little while since I was in Asheville so its interesting to see the new buildings. The city should have made staples come up with a better design than that.

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thanks orulz, i love these pics! i was gonna go downtown next week and take some photos but you beat me to it!

well i'd still like to take some pics of the river district and west asheville since i'm in that area almost daily.

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Please do! Although I drove down Haywood Road and Depot Street over the holidays I haven't had a chance to get out and explore for several years.

I really like old West Asheville. Somehow it has a similar feel to Carrboro. Interestingly, West Asheville was a seperate entity from Asheville proper until the cities merged in 1917.

Down by the river, I noticed a small cafe at the Depot/Roberts/Lyman/Clingman intersection. Seemed like they were doing pretty good business, too. Glad to see that businesses like that combined with the many artists' studios down by the river are turning the area around.

I'm also really excited about the change that MHO's Glen Rock apartments will bring to the neighborhood. Actually, I think Glen Rock is the most exciting project on the table in the whole city right now. In addition to expanding the city's urban core, If the river district takes off, Asheville will become not just a mountain city, but a river city as well. How cool would that be?

Construction starts in February, I believe.

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Awesome job with the pics Orulz. Very informative. I'm actually moving back to asheville from columbus oh in april. Do you have any pics of some of the new developments outside of downtown like the riverbend, southridge and hendersonville rd areas and gerber village? I'm really happy to see the city growing again.

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I have a pretty negative opinion of places like Southridge or Riverbend.

So, sorry, no pictures of the recent mega-commercial developments. But I can tell you that the Wal-Mart parking lot at Riverbend is depressingly huge. I've never seen Gerber Village, but I doubt it looks any different from every other retail power center in the country.

Personally, I don't care for massive-scale auto-oriented development at all. Somehow, our dependence on automobiles has caused shopping centers like this to become the epitomy of modern convenience. Walk? Who does that anymore? It's a sad testament to the perverted reality we live in that places like this are basically all that get built.

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Well it seems Asheville doesn't have enough super walmarts.

If this is approved by city council, it will be the 3rd Super Walmart in the Asheville area (4th if you count the one in Hendersonville). Not to mention that they also want to build a Super Walmart on Airport Rd in Arden, where a Target shopping center was just built. <_< Take a look at this map to see where these Walmarts are/will be built (4 and 5 are proposed locations).

Actually, the Gerber Villiage on Hendersonville Rd isn't coming along too bad. It's going to look better than I expected. I just found this link which shows what the Village will look like. That big white building in the back left is Big K-mart, by the way.

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The city should have made staples come up with a better design than that.

That's poor zoning for you. Perhaps Staples should be better corporate citizens, but the city must give businesses a clear idea of what is allowed and what is not. Cities should be more proactive about their zoning regulations.

On a side note, how much are these condos going for? $200/sf? or more?

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On a side note, how much are these condos going for? $200/sf? or more?
Check this page for a listing. The prices seem to vary between $165/sf (pre-sales at Lexington Station) and roughtly $300/sf (lower floors on 12 S. Lexington.)

This is just for what is available now. Some of the upper floor condos would have probably been more expensive than that, but I don't see any of them listed.

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According to This article, Staples is pondering changes to their building on Merrimon. The bad press for being completely inflexible with their store design, combined with how the store looks like an imposing fortress, has apparently hurt sales. Looks like they're trying to mend their relationship with the community.

I think they should tear that building down and start over with something that has two stories. Or dig out underneath it, if that's even possible. They need an entrance of some sort on Merrimon.

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Having some fun with Photoshop, I decided to come up with a way to make 21 Battery Park look better. My method involves: paint.

I'm not too hot on the earthy tone used. I recall there was a lighter color in the original renderings; maybe they just haven't painted it yet?

Anyway, here's what it would look like in red and in cream:

21batterypark_red.jpg21batterypark_cream.jpg

A shade of green might also be nice.

Although, this doesn't do anything to fix the building's biggest flaw, which is how its facade is so so dark and shadowy. The deep balconies with the thick, wall-like railings cause this problem, and it would take more than just a bit of paint to fix that. There's really only so much you can do with an uninspired building. Next to gems like like the Grove Arcade, the Miles building, the Flat Iron building, and the Haywood Park Hotel (originally Ivey's Department Store, I think) 21 Battery Park really falls flat.

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