SECU Plaza? Asheville Art Museum wants to sell naming rights to credit union

An artist rendering of "SECU Plaza" and proposed signage as envisioned by the Asheville Art Museum.

The Asheville Art Museum is seeking approval from Asheville City Council to sell the naming rights of its outdoor plaza in the heart of downtown to the North Carolina State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation.

The tentative deal calls for renaming the public space at the corner of Biltmore and Patton avenues “SECU Plaza.” The SECU Foundation would pay $1.5 million to the museum in exchange for the designation and an accompanying sign. In a letter to Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer, museum director Pamela Myers says the funding is “critical” to completing planned renovations at the site.

As of this July, the museum had raised $15 million towards its goal of $19 million for major renovations and an expansion at the facility, according to museum attorney Lou Bissette. On July 23, Council approved a controversial new leasing arrangement for the museum as well as other tenants located in the Pack Place building.

Council will consider the naming rights proposal at its Oct. 28 meeting.

The SECU Foundation is a charitable branch of the State Employees’ Credit Union, a nonprofit financial cooperative of state workers. In her letter to the city, Myers writes, “SECU has been an active supporter of important community endeavors throughout North Carolina.” She notes that Mission Hospital recently named one of its treatment facilities the “SECU Cancer Center” in exchange for funding.

If approved, the “SECU Plaza” name would apply for the entirety of the museum’s current 30-year lease with the city.

A report from city staff recommends that Council approve the request, noting: “This naming rights opportunity will assist the Art Museum in raising the funds it needs.” The report continues: “SECU Foundation is ‘an organization that has served and positively contributed to the citizens of this state and this community and the approval of naming of city owned property for such an organization is consistent with the past and present naming rights, guidelines and approvals.’”

On Oct. 28 Council will also consider plans to reduce domestic violence and an update on the future of Duke Energy’s local power plant.

Council will also consider new appointments to the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission.

Asheville City Council meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, in room 209 of City Hall. Read the meeting agenda here.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

8 thoughts on “SECU Plaza? Asheville Art Museum wants to sell naming rights to credit union

  1. nehtaeh

    Council may have approved a controversial new leasing arrangement, but they still don’t have a signed lease.

  2. There are other tenets in this building, why do they not get the right to sell the name? I think the art museum is awful pushy. This building was never intended to just house an art museum but they certainly are pushing everyone out. I suspect if they could find a way to remove the theatre or use that space, they would do so as well. They don’t seem to play well with others and I would be reticent to reward them for such behavior.

  3. If, like me, you do not support your credit union making a $1.5 million grant to this very questionable takeover of the Pack Place facility by a small group of self serving individuals affiliated with the art museum, please let your displeasure be known by ending your support of the SECU foundation. Instructions for reallocating your credit union maintenance fees from the foundation to credit union operating funds is pasted below from the credit union site. Also notify them of the reason you are ending your support for this otherwise admirable credit union program.
    —“What if I do not support the idea of the SECU Foundation?
    The fee will go into the operating fund of SECU. You may opt out of contributing to the Foundation at any time. Providing the ability to opt out of contribution to the Foundation gives you a “vote” on the projects and progress of the Foundation. “

    • To opt out, members may sign on to SECU Member Access and submit their opt out request via Services. Members may also visit their local branch or contact the Call Center at 1-888-732-8562 or (919) 857-2150, if local to Raleigh.

  4. Freddie Schlong

    In the South it is quite apparent that art is either entertainment, branding, or pornography. The Fine Arts Theatre on Biltmore was one of the more sophisticated porn houses in the South. Fine Art Bankstas and Pornographers inhabit the same crony cerebral regions of perverted power mongrels. And since the Ashevile Art Museum is run by Affluenza Infected Pornographers/Bankstas, why not get Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein and go for the Big Bucks Suckas. We all know the Museum totally sucks and is there for a family and friends egos branded to Asheville, a mythological art towne for those with terminal Affluenza…BooH YaH !!!

  5. Betty Cloer Wallace

    If this happens, I will be disgusted, or at least mightily irritated, with all the players. I’m still disturbed that the Asheville Civic Center sold its name. It’s like selling our birthright for a mess of pottage, isn’t it?

    • Keith

      As subtle a naming faceplate as a brick inlay with the name on it, or a fountain with the same, it hardly accounts for the intrusion of the name branding change for the Asheville Civic Center, which most of us still call the Asheville Civic Center. The SECU Plaza heretofore doesn’t even have a name, and the various naming of the pieces and parts of Pack Square and City County Plaza haven’t altered what most people call those spaces, at all.

      The $1.5 million dollars donated by the SECU Foundation, a charitable organization, promoting charitable causes, will allow the Asheville Art Museum to go forward now with construction of a plan that has been in process for over ten years, to enhance the footprint of what they have already contributed to transforming downtown Asheville from a desert to an economic engine for all of Western North Carolina over the last 20+ years.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.