TRC passes Parkside

TRC passes Parkside-attachment0

Eliciting hisses of disapproval and cries of “Shame!” the city of Asheville’s Technical Review Committee on Monday voted unanimously to approve the reworked Parkside condominium development.

Since a height reduction in May removed the project from a Level III Conditional Use hearing by City Council, the Technical Review Committee’s approval is the last word on the project’s design. But that approval came with conditions, and developer Stewart Coleman still has to secure easements from both the city and Buncombe County before proceeding with the current design.

The review played to a packed room on the first floor of City Hall, with people filling the doorway looking for a seat. Even Coleman and his representatives were forced to wait in the hall until called to comment.

Those opposing the development were generally unhappy with the restrictions placed on comment during the meeting. The TRC can only consider points that apply to the technical nature of the building and construction, and has no authority to consider larger issues of the project like sale of parkland by Buncombe County or Parkside’s cultural impact on Pack Square Park.

But with few chances so far to air their grievances, some attendees managed to get their say in anyway.

“The UDO is so far out of balance, that’s why this got passed,” said resident Donna Bateman. “You are not going to take away our park.”

Others stuck to technical issues like traffic. Asheville resident Jake Quinn noted that the building will increase traffic around the area, including on a road between the condominiums and the park — a consideration not included in the park’s redesign. “No one anticipated huge volumes of traffic running through it,” he said.

This is the second time the TRC has seen the Parkside project, and the second time it has voted unanimously to approve it. A single “no” vote would have meant the Parkside development would not have gotten the approval it needed.

Steve Rasmussen and Dixie Deerman, two of the more public faces in the fight to stop Parkside, both said they were disappointed but not surprised by the TRC’s decision.

“We’re finding out how much this system was made by developers 10 years ago,” Rasmussen told Xpress.

Meanwhile, activists are still holding out hope that Buncombe County will refuse the construction easements Coleman will need to move forward, and Asheville City Council is still exploring options of its own, and plans to discuss the issue at its July 15 meeting.

Brian Postelle, staff writer

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46 thoughts on “TRC passes Parkside

  1. Gordon Smith

    Yeah, this was a rubber stampy affair. They don’t call it an “approval process” for nothin’. The City and County now have to do something extraordinary to kibosh condos on our public park land.

    Arratik at ScruHoo put together a short video showing the Commissioners making the votes that led us to our current stalemate.

    http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us/?p=5716

  2. William P Miller

    Right Johnny. BUT, they should be ASHAMED of themselves for selling out the people of Asheville for this evil development at Pack Square. Now we need to pressure Buncombe County and the City Counsel. And threaten the Commissioners that if they don’t fix this, they will ALL BE VOTED OUT COME NOVEMBER. We want and deserve commissioners that have the people’s interests at heart, not developers who just want to make and buck and could care less about how their monstrosities impact the town.

  3. JDNC

    The County deserves to be on a 20/20 episode for this. All that let this happen need to be ousted the next election.

  4. While I applaud those who are sleeping, knitting, and passively fighting under the ol’ magnolia tree – it is my sincere fear that this will not accomplish a dang thing.

    However – we need to take as much action before people are lying down in front of bulldozers under the ol’ magnolia tree. Prevention is better than a cure and there are people who are so heated about this development debacle, I would hate to see this get to a point where guerilla warfare tactics are needed.

    In a Democracy – we the people hold the power. We elect a body of representatives with our power, who are the stewards of public decisions. When these representatives make poor decisions and put the public’s voice in jeopardy, it is our right and duty to take our power back.

    This is not a done deal – nor will it be so long as the community holds strong that this is a bum deal made by corrupted officials, and we know this to be the exact opposite of what our city and community needs.

    Just on the philosophical principal of what this condominium development stands for – high priced affluent condos to be used for second homes and rich (probably primarily) white folk directly in front of our city hall. Between the Ellington and this eyesore you can kiss “the Block” goodbye and say hello to a truly gentrified white-bred city, free from black folk downtown. Again our officials our selling our city short of it’s true great potential for the immediacy of development that will exploit our culture and community.

    But what our other options?
    As much as I dislike the idea of eminent domain it seems to be our only gold key to winning this battle.
    However, the city should not suffer the pay-out for the county’s crooked idiocracy. So do we need to make a motion to the city to have the county intervene and take back the land?

    We have 1000′s of signatures of folks who are against this sale and the proposed development. If we the back-end activists could organize anything that would allow even just a few hundred people to know about any sort of demonstration that would let the city and county know that we the people will not stand for this, I think that would be our current best shot at winning this battle.

    So July 15th the City Council plans to discuss this issue –
    We have a week to get organized and get moving –
    ‘We must all hang together or we shall most assuredly all hang separately.’
    Who’s with me?

    -JBo

  5. Tigerswede

    JBo,

    Isn’t this just a cut and paste from Gordon’s site? Please be original in your thoughts and comments.

    Tigerswede

  6. Tiger –

    Good for you for being a diligent blog reader!
    However, many others are not. Those who would not read Scrutiny Hooligan and only the MountainX (or visa versa) would never see the same thing twice. I am sure it is a small handful of the many who read both.

    Either way – the thoughts and comments, though repeated, are always original.

    Care to share your thoughts on the real issue at hand?

    -JBo

  7. Tigerswede

    Sure thing –

    I beleive this project will be the best thing for our Park, if the Park is ever completed.

    I believe S.B Coleman will do a great job of building it.

    I beleive there is a difference of opinion that cannot be resolved via blogs or comments on a website. The difference of opinion will not be resolved, but the building will be built.

    Gordon won’t let me post on his blog anymore, he has censored me, don’t know why.

  8. Gordon Smith

    How do you think it will be resolved, Tigerswede? Knowing that you’re a friend of the developer, can you offer any insights?

    While the City and County can do a lot of things to stop the sale, the one person who could end this all today is Stewart Coleman. He could acknowledge that he wound up with our public park land, and he could commit never to build on it.

  9. JDNC

    Tiger – how’s Boss Hog? He knows his project is dirty and is flaunting it in everyone’s faces. He’ll prob do the land swap and make huge money off of the whole embarrassing episode. Typical Developer/Politician interaction.

  10. William P Miller

    Thanks Jbo for taking an active lead here. Let’s all show up and tell them what we think about their perfidy!

  11. Gordon Smith

    By the way,

    Tigerswede CAN comment at ScruHoo. Arratik, however, in his Hooliganistic glory has “disemvoweled” Tigerswede, leaving him with consonants that anyone with time can make sense of.

  12. Tigerswede

    Gordon,

    Go back and read my comment again. It says that the difference of opinion will NOT be resolved.

    So why am I censored at your blog?

  13. JBo said:
    “Just on the philosophical principal of what this condominium development stands for – high priced affluent condos to be used for second homes and rich (probably primarily) white folk directly in front of our city hall. Between the Ellington and this eyesore you can kiss “the Block” goodbye and say hello to a truly gentrified white-bred city, free from black folk downtown. Again our officials our selling our city short of it’s true great potential for the immediacy of development that will exploit our culture and community.”

    Are there a lot of black people hanging out in the park now?

    But seriously. The block is long gone. I believe it got sold for mixed use condos years ago.

  14. Bugg –

    I don’t think the community would be in nearly as much of an uproar were this mixed affordable housing being built – but I’m sure Stewey B Coleman is not building anything that anyone even on your salary could afford -

  15. William P Miller

    There shouldn’t be any kind of building there because it is an very inappropriate place for a residential building. It is park land, faces Pack Square and the BC Courthouse.

    The BC Commissioners need to do an eminent domain takeover of that land and leave Coleman with nothing. And if that does not happen, the ALL BUNCOMBE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS SHOULD BE VOTED OUT OF OFFICE IN NOVEMBER!

  16. Tigerswede, welcome to the club (and it’s a very honorable one) … I, too, was censored at Screwy Hooligans. I am thinking of designing a teeshirt. The market for it seems to be growing.

  17. Gordon Smith

    Ralph,

    You still spreading that fiction?

    (Everyone else take note – Scrutiny Hooligans allows comments from all comers. If you’re poorly behaved, we’ll put a symbol next to your words to demonstrate our contempt, but we leave the words there. If you’re Tigerswede, and Arratik’s Arratik, then you might wind up disemvoweled, but still readable. Now I’m just waiting for Richard Bernier to show up…)

  18. Becky

    Keep up the good work Gordon. The trolls for the good old boy network keep showing up with pitiful attempts to be funny, ignore them. My kid is in an Asheville City Elementary School, and we know tons of families. With this project, Coleman has made a name for himself as a real #$%^ (and that was a soccer mom talking). These good old boys get real put out when attention gets focused on the way they’ve scratched each others backs for years. If you object to anything they do, they attack. Rest assured, every family we know is not happy over how this deal went down, or the impact on the park. Just the fact that Coleman seems to care ZERO about how people feel about this, and I’m not even talking about the citizens taking the time and energy to protest actively. The people creating the park, most downtown business owners — it’s so obviously corrupt, and the arrogance is so blatant, it’s really offensive and insulting.

  19. It’s not fiction, Gordon — I was censored and neither you nor Arratik made any attempt to resolve the problem. Which is fine, it’s your board and I certainly was wasting my time posting opposing viewpoints there. As you say, you show contempt for those who disagree with the progressive cant. Which, by the way, is also a form of censorship.

    As Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

    That’s where Scrutiny Hooligans and many other progressives fail miserably. You got no love, dude. Loosen up.

  20. Gordon Smith

    *yawn*

    You’ll find a lot of different viewpoints at ScruHoo, Ralph. I’ve noticed that it’s only you, Richard Bernier, and the Colemanista who seem to have a problem with us.

    Thunder Pig comments over at ScruHoo all the time. Why don’t you ask him how it works?

  21. Tigerswede

    Ralph,

    You’re too logical, rational, and intelligent to be accepted over there.

    Let them think they are saving the world one tree and condo at a time.

    God forbid they take on any important issues.

    TS

  22. Gordon Smith

    It’s our park land. We want it back.

    That’s all. You need me to save the world in some way? I don’t think I can help you.

  23. So, Gordon, talk to the county commissioners — they gave it away.

    I actually agree with you on that part, Pack’s legacy should have been honored, most probably they were legally bound TO honor it. Someone should pay, but not a private property owner.

  24. Ralph & Tigerswede –

    You’re not even talking issues here!

    It’s the same doltish game I see half of these comment blogs turn into –
    “your stupid because you think that way and I’m better than you because I think this way.”

    Get over it. Life doesn’t work like that. Get over the fact that people are different and thus have different perspectives. No one person is right and no one perspective has all the answers.

    And Ralph you’re talking about folks not having enough love and to loosen up – take some of your own vitamins. To assume anyone with any sort of liberal leaning is not logical, rational or intelligent is obviously not loose, loving or truly intelligent. If you’ve got a point I’ll acknowledge it – but I’ve yet to see you make one on this thread.

    And Tigerswede – this issue is not about saving a tree. The tree is a merely a symbol that people have taken to clinging to and protecting. Mind you, it is a wonderful magnolia tree specimin, but in the scheme of the world – not so important. However, crooked politics that sell public park property in front of our most sacred city municipal building – that’s important. Creating more gentrification and destroying the few remaining black business in downtown Asheville – that’s important too.

    We wonder why we have gang problems starting to occur in Asheville, why black youths are feeling angry and we see uprisings in drugs and violence…
    Let me put it to you this way –
    When you gentrify a community and create total seperation between the main class and a sub-class, specifically based on racial and economical base – you destroy a strong community. When this seperation of community occurs, the sub-class will create it’s own community. Thus the gangs – because people have to have something to occupy their time that makes them feel as if they have a community – despite however deadly it may be. Then you have despair caused by the fact that the seperation of the classes has caused rifts in equal housing, health, and job opportunities. This causes drugs to enter the community, because it is human nature to find a way to cope. When the drugs and gangs start to mix you end up with a deadly recipe, and it is only a matter of time before the sub-class starts to strike with retaliation to the primary class.
    Can you understand any of this logic?
    We have to prevent this current trend from escalating. If we lose the area known as The Block – game over. We’ve shown the sub-class we don’t care – $1,000,000 secondary residential condos and tourists who pay $300/night for a hotel room are more important to us than the people who live and work here and die here.

    Talk issues, – not petty self-congratulations because you think differently and are thus so much better the person for it. At the end of the day – we’re all just people who live and die the same as any other person.

    I’ll dismount my soap-box now.

  25. “Doltish games?”

    Now come on JLo, I wuz AGREEING with Gordon (and I seldom do that).

    But from reading the above, I see the same mistake that many of the liberal bent seem to take, i.e. talking about “classes” and ‘the people.’ America was founded on INDIVIDUAL freedoms not those of some nebulous mass as ‘the people.’ The erosion of personal freedoms and loss of property rights come from this, yes, less than logical thinking.

    The whole controversy boils down to someone or someones in the county government screwed up. While Mr. Coleman may be a saint or a greedy developer, he has certain property rights. It is not his fault the county screwed up.

    I suspect the only possible solution is for the county to a) buy it back or b) trade other property for it. And, yes, whoever made this mistake in county government should be held accountable.

    But, please, let’s drop all the ‘groupthink’ and encourage the county commissioners to fix THEIR mistake.

  26. DonM

    Ralph,
    I don’t know why you bother. You’ll never convince anyone like JBo, gordon, and the other usual suspects of anything that doesn’t jibe with their thoughts. It’s anathema to them. Reality will prevail, however, and we’ll all move on and be happy. Well, most of us will.

  27. Tigerswede

    JBo said

    “Creating more gentrification and destroying the few remaining black business in downtown Asheville – that’s important too.”

    How can you tell if a business is black? A business is a business!

  28. William P Miller

    Most of Asheville will never be happy with an upscale condo building in their park. Full of northeastern and Floridian transplants, no less. Talk about selling the city out. We need to keep the pressure on the democrats on the Buncombe County Commission who sold this property in the first place. Either take it back with eminent domain, or we will VOTE YOU ALL OUT OF OFFICE!

  29. ThePhan

    “Between the Ellington and this eyesore you can kiss “the Block” goodbye and say hello to a truly gentrified white-bred city, free from black folk downtown.”

    Sorry, but that’s just not true. Look, I am opposed to selling parkland, pure and simple. THAT alone is enough to stop the project in its current form. However, some of the other reasons people (like Leni Sitnick) are putting forward to stop this project aren’t helping.

    First, how many people actually live in “The Block” area? How many will be directly affected by this project? How many homes will be “gentrified” because of it? When I look at the non-park part of the discussed site, I see a vacant and rather unattractive building; the park on the north side; a fire and police station to the west; City Hall to the east; and a parking lot and a church to the south of it.

    Let’s be honest–The Block has continued to struggle. It’s generally not a vibrant area of downtown, despite some attempts to make it otherwise. Some people act as though this buildng is being plopped down right in the middle of The Block, when it’s not. Same thing with the Ellington–how in the world does it do anything to harm The Block, when it isn’t even located within the neighborhood?

    And those of you who don’t want “rich” “white” people in the area, why aren’t you down protesting in front of Limones and Ophelia’s right now? They sit right on Eagle Street, and seem to attract mostly white folks. Why not boot them as well?

  30. ThePhan

    “Most of Asheville will never be happy with an upscale condo building in their park. Full of northeastern and Floridian transplants, no less. Talk about selling the city out.”

    So it would be better and more acceptable to you if the parkland were sold to put downscale housing catering only to people who already live here on it?

    In a word, no. Arguments like this don’t help at all.

  31. Ralph –

    You’re right – We do need to hold the county commissioners accountable (BEFORE NOVEMBER) and the two options you listed are the only two options really available to policy makers. The policy makers are all adamantly against eminent domain, as am I. SB Coleman will maintain his individual property rights.

    The city needs to step in but the county is ultimately responsible to make some sort of deal. I don’t doubt that Coleman is suffering too – and it’s the county’s fault he and the community are suffering through this long tumultuous process.

    I applaud Coleman for his very recent activity in actually trying to now work with the people. He understands that the public is not in support of this project. His reputation is suffering heavily and it’s now about community consciousness instead of property rights. The Coleman plan for the property is just not the best thing for the city – and arguably not good at all. There are plenty of other projects that have been discussed and lightly planned for that property, so I am not sure why the county sold it to begin with. Nevertheless, Coleman is now no longer interested in a land swap, so the question is can the county afford his hefty price?

    He wants $4.2m for the Parkside property as well as the Hayes- Hopson Building, and the county is only willing or able to offer $2.8m.

    Coleman is lumping into his this amount the Pack Family lawsuit costs, which is not a separate issue but it shouldn’t be charged to the tax-payers. If he is trying to pull that shtick the city and county should give him a bill for all the time and tax-payer money he’s cost us with this drawn-out hullaballoo. He could have ended this months ago when he realized this was going to be a long difficult fight, it should have never gone this far. There is irresponsibility and greed on all fronts – despite whatever individual property rights need to be upheld and respected.

  32. david

    J Bo said:

    “Ralph & Tigerswede -

    You’re not even talking issues here!

    It’s the same doltish game I see half of these comment blogs turn into -
    “your stupid because you think that way and I’m better than you because I think this way.”

    Get over it. Life doesn’t work like that. Get over the fact that people are different and thus have different perspectives. No one person is right and no one perspective has all the answers.

    And Ralph you’re talking about folks not having enough love and to loosen up – take some of your own vitamins. To assume anyone with any sort of liberal leaning is not logical, rational or intelligent is obviously not loose, loving or truly intelligent. If you’ve got a point I’ll acknowledge it – but I’ve yet to see you make one on this thread. ”

    Here Here!!!!!!

  33. William P Miller

    The Phan said: “So it would be better and more acceptable to you if the parkland were sold to put downscale housing catering only to people who already live here on it?

    In a word, no. Arguments like this don’t help at all.”

    What I want is for this illegally sold land to revert back to being a part of Pack Square Park. The reason I mentioned “upscale” is to point out that building a condo building on our park land then filling it with people from elsewhere just adds insult to injury. Talk about selling Asheville out.

  34. contentpersephone

    yes, JBo….I agree that you should run for office. And, btw, terrific job getting the people out today for the rally! I really enjoyed the speakers, but had to leave before most of the music.

    What this issue really boils down to is corruption and greed….also some wishful thinking, imo. (if you could buy a condo for 1M or a big fat house in Montford what would you do??? hmmm)

    Back to topic – Buncombe County officials do not have the right to sell our public parkland. period. That would be why the Pack family are suing. The land in question was gifted to “the people of Asheville” – not some developer, and certainly not Buncombe county officials.

    So that aspect of this whole mess will, eventually, play out in court…probably in the favor of the people of Asheville…but it might, by then, be too late. The parkland will already have been destroyed. That, it seems to me, is Coleman’s goal in rushing this process along.

    What I don’t understand at all is how some sort of moratorium or suchlike can’t be placed upon any demolition or pre-construction work until this issue has gone through the courts. It’s my understanding that the attorney that the Pack family has retained is working pro-bono, and is quite (understandably) overwhelmed…but even so.

    Are there truly no legal measures that might be pursued along these lines? Waiting for the City to claim “eminent domain” seems rather a long shot – they are pretty dependent on the county for water to my recollection …. in any case, I’m not holding my breath there.

    I truly don’t understand what Mr. Coleman wants to build more million dollar condos there for in any case. It’s not as though the ones he’s already put on Battery Park are anyway near full.

    Looking forward to an actual discussion, please…not a gripe-fest about SH Forums or suchlike.

    Thanks for listening.

  35. ThePhan

    “I truly don’t understand what Mr. Coleman wants to build more million dollar condos there for in any case. It’s not as though the ones he’s already put on Battery Park are anyway near full.”

    It’s his money. That’s his problem.

    Again, I ask–is the issue the parkland sale or the building itself? The opponents of this project will be much better off if they stick to the sale of the parkland issue. That, and if they would become a little more PR-savvy and not show up on WLOS talking about how the sap of the magnolia tree is blood, etc.

  36. contentpersephone

    ThePhan-
    For me the issue is the parkland sale, not the building itself. The tree is lovely and all…but let’s be real….trees get hit by lightning, destroyed by pests….etc. etc.

    For me, and many of the folks who are concerned about this issue, the tree itself is not the point. The corruption of county officials is the point. The sale of public parkland in the “care” of Buncombe county officials should never have occurred…and that is, ultimately, what the Pack family lawsuit is all about. (It is also more than a little bit suspicious that the sale proceeded for a price well-below market value and with no real notice to the public. It makes me wonder where exactly Mr. Coleman’s “millions” of dollars in expenditures actually have been spent).

    As far as PR – WLOS has gotten lots of actual, informed comments about this aspect of the Parkside situation – they just choose to focus on the more “out there” comments ’cause it makes for better TV. It’s like most “news” agencies these days – superficial coverage presenting “both sides” of an issue in their most extreme forms. It only distracts people from what’s actually going on.

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