Back in 1980, plans to demolish 11 blocks of downtown to build a mall brought out artists and activists from our community to create the Wrap. They tied sheets and fabric together and wrapped the entire 11 block area. This event showed what would be lost if the mall were to be built and the project was voted down. Now we face a similar threat to demolish twelve 100-year old homes on Charlotte, Baird, Furman and Chestnut Streets to build 180 residential units, a 400 space parking garage and 50,000 sq. ft. of office/commercial space.
The Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods (CAN) has worked diligently with well-meaning City of Asheville officials on improving public input in virtual meetings during the covid-19 pandemic restrictions on in-person meetings.
Inarguably, there have many challenges in getting this right, and the consequences to getting it wrong was on vivid display during the May 5 meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission on the conditional zoning request for the Charlotte Street-Chestnut Hills development project.
Attorneys for the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County have sent a letter to City officials about the myriad problems associated with technical and process failures rampant during that meeting. That letter can be read here:
Unfair Public Hearing Practices
CAN wholeheartedly supports the conclusion reached by the Preservation Society's legal counsel and agreed with the demand that the hearing on that project be continued allowing those supporting and opposing the project a fair opportunity to present their respective views.
CAN also supports the efforts of several adjacent neighborhoods and the Preservation Society to oppose the proposed design and scale of the Charlotte Street Project as out of character to the surrounding neighborhood. Additionally, we object to the developers' firm decision not to discuss with neighborhood leaders project changes that would make the development more palatable to those living in the area.
CAN supports the conclusion of the Department of Planning and Urban Design that the proposed project includes features that are inconsistent with the Charlotte St. overlay zoning and urges major modifications.
CAN urges its neighborhood(s) and individual members to send a message to City Council, the Planning and Zoning Commission, the City Manager and the City Attorney that we will not tolerate any imposition of a citizen's or neighborhood's right for adequate input into the business of City government.
We also urge you to support the local neighborhood's efforts to negotiate design changes, as well as preserving some of the existing houses that represent the rich history and look of the neighborhood.
Don't let developers run roughshod over the Charlotte Street and Chestnut Hills neighborhoods. It could happen to you.
The Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods (CAN) raises major concerns on the proposed development along Charlotte Street. First, the design as presented is not compatible with surrounding Chestnut Hill Historic District. The proposed development runs counter to both common sense and the City’s 2018
Living Asheville: A Comprehensive Plan for the Future-Neighborhoods. This document states for Traditional and Residential Neighborhoods “Commercial uses will be inappropriate with the exception of uses compatible within a residential context…”
The proposed zoning changes, with a small area zoned Community Business l and the majority zoned Residential Multi-family, Medium Density (RM8) and Residential Multi-family, High Density (RM16) which is only the Asheville Arms to Mixed Use Expansion reflects overdevelopment in an old residential neighborhood.
The Comprehensive Plan also notes “specific concerns regarding climate change and resilience, the economy, traffic, open space, and the collective feedback gathered from Plan on a Page.” The proposed development runs contrary to the Cities Plan for the following reasons: a) the removal of old growth trees will exacerbate the heat island affect, and the new trees proposed to be planted will not if ever achieve the canopy coverage these trees now provide b) it will directly impact the housing of Asheville’s economically disadvantaged population currently residing in this neighborhood c) this proposed development and future developments along the Charlotte Street Corridor will greatly increase the traffic which will impact safe walkability. A holistic approach to the entire area should be conducted and d) runs counter to all of the surrounding neighborhoods current Plans on a Page (Chestnut Hill, Albemarle Park and Grove Park/Sunset Mountain Neighborhoods).
Most of the structures in question are residential rental units that will be demolished during a period of extreme affordable housing shortages in Asheville. The planned development’s affordable housing AMI will not be applicable to the current residents as most will be below the income requirement and will not be able to afford what is being proposed.
Asheville is blessed with some of the finest architecture of any small city in the country, to replace these historic homes with structures of a completely different architectural style and scale is incompatible with the neighborhood and will forever change what makes Asheville so unique.
We fully support the City’s goal of higher density development, but cannot support the RCG/Killian proposed development along the 100 block of Charlotte Street.
The City should not give its blessing to this project.
Sharon Sumrall, Chair
Committee on Development Advocacy