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hauntedheadnc

Ravenscroft Project

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Pricing has not been set, but the idea is for units to be affordable for

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Here's a letter to the editor I just now wrote about this project. Is it coherent?

To the Editor:

Has the news thrilled you lately? The Dixon on Biltmore, 60 N. Market Street, 12 S. Lexington, Lexington Station, the Griffin Apartments, and now two incredible, environmentally sound projects proposed for the South Slope! You certainly should be thrilled. Growth without sprawl is the best thing that could happen to Asheville.

This growth is worlds better than a thousand houses in The Villas at Misspelled Pointe, or whatever other idiotic thing they

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The current council has been very pro-growth when it comes to downtown. I just can't see this getting turned down easily. Unlike Hendersonville, both city council and the majority of residents in Asheville want it to be a "real city."

These projects are not half-assed proposals that will struggle to get off the ground. Rather than wondering whether downtown is ready for this many condos, instead I would say that the sheer size and number of units will give it a critical mass and legitimacy on its own.

There are very few actual neighbors to this property, so any "Not In My Back Yard" (NIMBY) concerns will be more like "Not Inside Five Blocks Of My Back Yard" (NIFBOMBY). In my opinion, calling even the Sawyer Motor building a neighbor is a stretch. I hope council will distinguish between kneejerk NIMBYism and genuine concerns that can be negotiated with the developer, such as the location of service entrances and massing of buildings. This area is so out of the way (as the article correctly states, nobody ever goes down there) that I don't forsee an overwhelming groundswell of complaints.

I just hope that the developers propose something urban, rather than towers-in-a-park or an urban cul-de-sac gated community. This oroject needs to stretch from lot line to lot line, and turn the scraggly stands of trees, weedy lots, and disused buildings into a southward extension of Asheville's urban fabric.

This will be a project the likes of which Asheville hasn't seen since the Grove Arcade and the redevelopment of Battery Park Hill in the 1920s. And all this without any specific initiative or incentives on the part of the city, either. Exciting!

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Camille-Alberice is involved in this, so I don't think there's much danger of towers in a park. They're the firm that designed 12 S. Lexington and Lexington Station, both of which are very urban, if architecturally boring. They both run right up the sidewalk, and in the case of 12 S. Lexington, even get a little loom action going there despite the fact that it's not that terribly tall of a building.

I can't wait for a site plan.

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Agreed about 12 S. Lexington and the Loom factor. I think the reason that it still feels imposing despite not being so tall is the fact that the Lexington Avenue right-of-way is exceptionally narrow at that point. If I recall correctly, the sidewalks there are pretty narrow as well - pehaps 8 feet wide, compared to a normal 12-20 feet wide for the average downtown street.

The only reason I'm a bit worried about towers-in-a-park here is that the streets around Collier and Ravenscroft are somewhat curved, the terrain is hilly and irregular, and the streets don't intersect at typical 90-degree angles. It would probably be easier and less expensive to not worry about meeting lot lines and just build rectangular buildings with setbacks in the middle of the lot. Barring that, we'll either see some unusual building footprints, or a major reconfiguration of the streets in question.

I agree. I'm looking forward to seeing site plans as well.

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Okay, as I understand this, Power Development LLC is the company building the project, while Camille-Alberice is the firm designing it.

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but Power is also the muscle behind the project that would renovate the Chrysler Building and put a new mixed-use tower next door.

(Edit: I was wrong and am correcting myself. Some outfit calling itself Alexander Reagan is doing the Chrysler renovation and the new building beside it.)

Camille-Alberice has plenty of examples of their work on their site for everyone to observe and admire, but Power Development is proving more elusive. How could you go about finding out more information on their intentions? Educating oneself about the developer might go a ways toward figuring out whether to ready the baskets of rose petals or gird for the next round in the war on crap buildings. The more I think about it, the more frightening the prospect of a bunch of buildings massed in the middle of a parking lot becomes.

I'd like to think that with Camille-Alberice on board, the project will be very urban in nature, flush to the sidewalk, and a valuable part of downtown. However, if the land is hilly and hard to work with, that might send things reeling in a new and nasty direction. Damn... I wish I could get a look at the site plan.

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There are two seperate projects on the table here -- the 13-story Zona Lofts building, which would also include some street level retail and parking, and the Ravenscroft project with its four towers and 450 condos.

According to an update in the AC-T a little while ago, the Zona Lofts passed the city Downtown Commission review 8 to 1, although some concerns were raised about its modern design and height, especially by members of the audience that attended the hearing. Nevertheless, having the commission's blessing will go a long way when this project is up for final approval by city council.

Interestingly, one of the environmentally-friendly features planned for the Zona Lofts are solar cells on the south exposure that will help the building generate some of its own electricity.

Worryingly, though, the Ravenscroft project was discussed in passing, as it will have to approach the commission later. Concerns were raised about its size and height -- especially that of the tallest building in the clutch, which is expected to rise to 23 stories.

The full story will appear in tomorrow's paper -- let's hope for a rendering!

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http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll...ID=200660907068

So sayeth the Asheville Citizen-Times. Zona Lofts is a go as far as the Downtown Commission is concerned, next stop city council. The NIMBY's hate it. It's too tall. The commission has misgivings about the Ravenscroft project because it looks suburban, but the architect says that's only because more detailed renderings haven't been released. In the meantime, the NIMBY's hate it. It's too tall.

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http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll...ID=200660907068

So sayeth the Asheville Citizen-Times. Zona Lofts is a go as far as the Downtown Commission is concerned, next stop city council. The NIMBY's hate it. It's too tall. The commission has misgivings about the Ravenscroft project because it looks suburban, but the architect says that's only because more detailed renderings haven't been released. In the meantime, the NIMBY's hate it. It's too tall.

The "NIMBYs" from Weaverville, mind you.

I'd just really like to see a site plan. And I hope they realign the streets down there... the way Ravenscroft dead-ends after its intersection with Collier doesn't help it integrate with the rest of downtown.

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You know, I always used to wonder how a doofy name like Ravenscroft got spilled into the mix of more sensible downtown street names, until I found out that Ravenscroft was the name of a big estate once located in the vicinity of the down-at-the-heels, and rather dumpy neighborhood the road runs through now.

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Just found this, the minutes of the Downtown Commission meeting where this project was discussed:

Ravenscroft-Power Development-

Chairman Peter Alberice asked the DTC to recuse him from the next section of the meeting due to his

employment as part of the design professional team for this project.

Pat Whalen made a motion to recuse Peter Alberice as so asked, the motion was seconded by Pam Myers

and the motion passed unanimously.

Matt Sprouse from sitework studios started the presentation with a review of the basic project ideas

presented to date. The project will now consist of four buildings instead of five in efforts to minimize the

impact of the development; by using four separated buildings the project will be less likely to be

perceived by the viewer as one sprawling mass. 450 units plus commercial spaces are still planned on this

site. The westernmost building would be 7 stories, the next building in would house 18, the northeastern

building would have 14 or 15, and the southern building would house 12-14 stories.

The lowest building is sited closest to existing buildings and is an effort to provide context to the massing

of the project. The building would have 49 units of residential and would include a 50% workforce

housing ( participants range from 60%

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A thought -- who do you suppose you've have to talk to, as a concerned citizen, to get your support for this project across?

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I sincerely hope that the NIMBYs here don't get this one stopped outright. There may be some concessions, not sure how much. While Zona has a very definite and very complete plan, it sounds like Ravenscroft is still very much written in pencil and there's a lot of room left to reconfigure the whole thing.

From reading these minutes, it seems that the site plan for this project has a long way to go. When developers do mega-projects like this, they almost universally become "internally focused" - that is, less attention is given to the experience presented along public sidewalks and streets, and more is focused on what the project looks like from the inside.

If these developers are intent on building a new-urban 'city-in-a-city' facing a central courtyard on top of a parking podium, they can roll up their plans and go home right now for all I care. This project must participate in the city, not try to create its own isolated environment.

A perfect example of a large project that maintains a flawless balance of internal AND external focus throughout is the Grove Arcade. I don't expect to see an urban masterpiece like Grove at Ravenscroft, or for that matter, anywhere downtown ever again. But this project absolutely needs to address the public realm properly. ALL buildings should have ground-foor activities (retail or whatever) that are pedestrian accessible, and ALL such activities should be built to face an open right-of-way. More open rights-of-way should be constructed to break apart this large parcel into smaller, human-scaled lots that blend with the urban fabric of downtown.

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Peter Alberice here. I have been following Urban Planet for about 4 months, especially the topic about development in Asheville. Our firm is the architect for the proposed Ravenscroft project discussed earlier. At the moment, the project is on hold and if it moves forward, it will probably be much smaller in scale. With regards to the earlier comment about the relationship of the project to the street, our design has always had office or retail at the street level to tie in with the existing urban fabric as it begins to develop on Coxe Avenue.

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pyalberice,

Digging up this thread again...

As you indicate, this project is stalled, but could you indulge us here on UrbanPlanet with some preliminary images (site plans, renderings, etc) from this project, so we might have some idea of what might be used as a "starting point" for developments here in the future?

Thanks.

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pyalberice,

Digging up this thread again...

As you indicate, this project is stalled, but could you indulge us here on UrbanPlanet with some preliminary images (site plans, renderings, etc) from this project, so we might have some idea of what might be used as a "starting point" for developments here in the future?

Thanks.

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I can't speak for the rest of the folks here, but I think the urbanity of the project is more important than how tall it is. As has been seen recently, just because something is tall doesn't mean that it fits in well with its surroundings.

As far as the design goes, it doesn't need to look like it was built in 1930 to be nice. As long as the buildings are constructed of quality materials that will last for decades to come, then it should be nice.

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The Ravenscroft project is on the drawing board now with a major revision from the previous schemes. The project has been reduced in size to 150 to 180 residential units and 10 to 15 retail office units in 4 to 5 mid-rise buildings. The maximum height of each building will be 7 stories, and will not be classified as high-rise buildings per the building code. The concept is to create a mix of buildings that are urban, and create an urban sense of place. The design of the exterior will be urban infill contemporary. Sorry, no goofy neo _____. This is the 21st century. The wooded area will not be developed. We expect to begin the approval process this Fall.

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I missed this before, but there was an article in the C-T about this project last week. Seems the developers have changed directions and are now pursuing a mid-rise project in the 7-story range, and preserving more of the trees as-is. It went before the downtown commission last Wednesday.

I wonder if pyalberice could comment a little more in depth about this new proposal and how the DTC meeting went?

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I missed this before, but there was an article in the C-T about this project last week. Seems the developers have changed directions and are now pursuing a mid-rise project in the 7-story range, and preserving more of the trees as-is. It went before the downtown commission last Wednesday.

I wonder if pyalberice could comment a little more in depth about this new proposal and how the DTC meeting went?

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