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Zona Lofts, Zona Village, Chrysler Building

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What's painful is that that's the rendering at www.zonalofts.com. The architectural firm is still showing the drawings that got everyone excited.

They must be listening to you... The rendering above is now up on their site...

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Once again WLOS fails to include what the building looks like at the street in the photo (they did the same thing with their picture of the Ellington.)

This is less crappy than the original rendering of the redesign. Now rather than looking crappy and stupid, it just looks like a boring cube. If having a boring design means that it's that much more affordable, then I'm fine with that. I'll refrain from giving my OK until I've seen street-level renderings.

The previous rendering of the redesign called for a parking entrance and a small retail space along Coxe. Why can't the parking entrance be off of Banks, or better still, the alleyway behind the building (Collier) instead?

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The Downtown Commission approved the design according to WLOS.

zona1.jpg

zona.jpg

That's not half bad! It's a world better than that grotesque thing they were depicting on their website! Sometimes though, a developer will show a nasty rendering in order to get quick approval of an actual not-so-hot design more out of relief than anything. I'm actually rather pleased with the renderings that were approved though. I want to see the street, also, but one thing I do remember about the bad initial renderings was that retail frontage was included.

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Looks like the new renderings and floorplans are up on the website.

zona_loft_frontpage.jpg

The floorplan for the ground floor is like this:

zona_groundfloor.gif

I still don't understand why the parking entrance had to go on Coxe instead of Banks (side street) or Collier (alleyway.) OK, maybe Collier would have been difficult as it's so narrow, but Banks would have been better.

But at least the retail space prominently addresses the street corner - that much is good.

And, unless I'm crazy, this looks like 161 units and 33 total parking spaces? I like those parking ratios very much... that's probably a big part of why this place is so affordable. That's not something you'll find many places in NC, and it's thanks to Asheville's lack of minimum parking requirements in the CBD.

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OK, here's the lowdown on Zona's configuration.

1 level of below ground parking (call it level 0)

ground level, including retail, lobby, and more parking (level 1)

1 level of above ground parking (level 2)

7 levels with 107 total 'economy' units 433-821sf, $122k-$219k (levels 3-9)

4 levels with 46 total 'luxury' units 582-1003sf, $~299k-$~449k (levels 10-13)

2 levels with 8 total penthouses (levels 14-15)

-161 residential units

-55 parking spaces

-Retail facing the corner of Coxe/Banks

-Residential lobby in the center of the building on Coxe

-Parking entrance on Coxe accessing parking levels 0-1

-Seperate parking entrance on Banks accessing parking level 2

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Mixed-income? Hot damn! This is precisely the sort of growth Asheville needs gobs more of. High-rise, mixed-use, mixed-income growth in a more or less aesthetically pleasing building. This really is about as good as it gets. Now we just need about a hundred taller, and possibly even better-looking, buildings following it down the pipeline.

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The inexpensive units are going fast. According to the pricing and availability page, it looks like 66 out of 107 of them have been "selected" (which I guess means they've been reserved w/ a deposit?) That and, the 11 units on the lowest residential level, level 3, haven't been made available yet. So, 66 out of 95 of the available inexpensive units have already sold.

Only one floor of the luxury units (out of four) has been made available so far, and only 2 out of 12 of those units have been "selected".

If that doesn't tell you where the market is, I don't know what is.

I'm curious how they're planning on handling the parking, but with a little bit of math I think we can figure it out:

55 parking spaces, minus one handicapped space for the retail shop. 8 penthouses plus 46 luxury units. 54 luxury units, 54 parking spaces. So each of the higher-end units comes with a single assigned parking space, and the inexpensive units come with none.

The numbers make sense. I assume that at least some of the 106 "cheap condo" dwellers will have cars, though; wonder where they'll leave them. I can see some of the nearby vacant lots being converted to parking lots so residents at Zona can lease spaces, but unless that happens, on-street parking or no parking seem like the options. The architect seems to have left plenty of space for bicycles (maybe scooters too) for those without cars, so maybe that will help, too.

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i don't hate the re-redesign... but, i don't love it either. however, if this thing is clad in EFIS (which it appears)... then it will undoubtbly end up being a POS in a very classy looking city. unfortunate.. i am placing a recall on my initial "cheers" and robot dance - until this thing pans out.

downtown asheville does not want to go down the EFIS road... here in charlotte the blight of EFIS clad buildings is becoming a serious problem in my view.

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Coxe Avenue condos get green light.

Seems that Council gave the go-ahead to Alexander Reagan & their Zona Lofts plan. Good for them. This is a pretty good place to have less parking than units; it's 2 blocks from the transit center. Though I doubt most condo dwellers will give up parking right now, who knows how things will be in 20 years. For now, they will have to find parking spaces elsewhere. this turns parking into a commodity that must be paid for and can be done without, rather than an intrinsic right and absolute necessity.

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Looks like Alexander Reagan is getting started on their next project in the area, Zona Village, an 11-story building with residential rentals and ground-floor retail space, on the north side of Buxton Avenue (just around the corner from Zona Lofts.) The lot is about 1/6 acre, and is currently empty.

Review of the Level III site plan for the project identified as Zona Village, located on Buxton Avenue for an 11-story mixed-use building. The owner is Alexander Reagan, LLC and the contact is Shawn Lynch. The property is identified in the

Buncombe County tax records as PIN 9648.06-38-6084. Planner coordinating review – Jessica Bernstein

Based on what they've done with Zona Lofts, it seems that Alexander Reagan's "M.O." is to buy cheap property zoned CBD in a 'forgotten' area of the south slope, and develop it into inexpensive residential units. They save on construction costs by building small units in extremely dense buildings, and cutting down on on-site parking (there is no limit on height, density, or parking in the CBD zoning district.)

At the 9/17 TRC meeting, the scope of the project was to be:

- 42 units, 9 stories = 252 units/acre, compared to 473 units/acre for Zona Lofts, or a mere 98 units/acre for 60 North Market

- No parking in this phase (they also own a large, trapezoid-shaped lot on the south side of Buxton, so the implication is that there will be another phase)

Obvously, two floors have been added since then, so the number of units has probably gone up, too.

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If that really is their m.o., more power to them. God knows we need someone to build something other than "luxury" condos.

I really hate it when developers use that word as though it's some sort of code word, too. Everyone knows it just means "expensive" and we'd have a lot more respect for developers if they'd come out and admit it.

Edited by hauntedheadnc

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I think that Zona Village is trying to fill a niche that is desperately underserved downtown: rentals that are affordable but neither subsidized nor income-restricted.

I can name at least a half dozen young people I know who are living in Asheville who would jump at the chance to rent something decent downtown for a price comparable to what you would pay for an apartment out in Haw Creek or Candler. And I haven't even lived in A-ville for close to 8 years. These people aren't after fancy "amenities", granite countertops, or walk-in closets... they just want somewhere to live and they'd love for it to be downtown.

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Yes, that market is desperately underserved, but it remains underserved because developers can make more money giving the city exactly what it doesn't need: more expensive condos for the likes of Biff and Muffy.

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Found a cool aerial picture online and decided to make a rendering of what Zona Lofts would look like in context.

The shadow building highlighed in yellow is the location of Zona Village; the area highlighted in blue is also owned by the same developers.

Please pardon the roughness of this rendering. I've never done one before, and it was done quickly, using a tool that I'm not familiar with yet (GIMP). I gave Zona a green roof for good measure.

Zona_Rendering.jpg

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That rendering looks just fine, and it's a very interesting way to put things in perspective. I'd love to see you do the same kind of thing with the Ellington, or something like that. Back to Zona, though... I like what these developers are doing. We need them to get on the ball and do a lot more. What they're building is what we need most.

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Zona Village is on the P&Z agenda for this week.

No real new information and no renderings in the agenda packet, though. The building will be 11 stories, ~65500 square feet, with 54 units, on a .17 acre lot. There will be 3000 square feet ground-floor retail space, and no off-street parking. 54 units (36 1 bedroom and 18 2- bedroom) on a .17 acre lot. That comes out to 317 units per acre, a density unheard of (and not allowed) in most other NC cities.

The building will be be of a "contemporary design", and set back 2 feet from the curb to allow for an 8 foot sidewalk rather than the exiting 6 feet.

The developer says that while there are no parking spaces on-site for this project, there will be parking spaces allotted in the second phase, across Buxton from here. No further details are given about the second phase. Presumably, the developer is betting that on-street parking will be sufficient for this project until phase 2 gets built.

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Renderings of Zona Village. This building is known as "Zona Village North 1". The .56 acre site owned by the same developer across the street will probably be known as "Zona Village South 2." Pretty boring, modern architecture. Tall, very dense building with ground floor retail and no parking, on an extremely small (.17acre) site. Unusual roof line, though. What do you think?

zonavillage.jpg

If Alexander Reagan really can pull off Zona Lofts and Zona Village, I would really love to see them set up shop in some other NC cities as well. I doubt they could make it work in a city like Raleigh with pretty severe restrictions on max density and parking requirements, but there are other cities such as Greensboro with no such restrictions where I imagine there would be great demand for affordable high rise living. The best thing about them is that their buildings are composed of perhaps 30% high-end and 70% average income (perhaps 80%-120% of average area income) units, with 100% of units being market-rate. A more typical approach is to build 80% or 90% high end, plus 10% or 20% "affordable," income-restricted units targeted at folks making 80% or less of the average area income.

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Bland, yes, as modern architecture is required to be, but at least it's inoffensive. As for the Alexander Reagan company setting up shop in other NC cities, I'd prefer to see them throw up about forty or fifty more highrises in Asheville first. We need their commitment to affordability, as God knows nobody else around here gives a damn about building anything other than expensive condos for the golf dolt set.

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