52 Broadway building changes hands, to host Momentum Gallery

52 Broadway Building
52 Broadway Building in 2018. Photo by James Harrison.

Owners Otto Hauser and Craig Culbertson have sold their building at 52 Broadway in downtown Asheville, the current home of Magnolia Beauregard’s antique shop, to 52 For Good, LLC, for $4.75 million. Momentum Gallery, currently located at 24 N. Lexington Ave., will move into the building after renovating approximately 15,000 square feet of space. After the move is complete, Momentum will occupy the largest private gallery space in North Carolina.

Press release from Whitney Commercial Real Estate:

Whitney Commercial Real Estate Services is pleased to announce the sale of the historic 52 Broadway building in downtown Asheville. The final sale price for the renovated building was $4.75 million ($225/SF), with the purchaser paying additional transaction expenses that raised the effective purchase price.

Commercial broker James Harrison represented the buyers, 52 For Good, LLC, locating an ideal off-market property. The sellers, Otto Hauser and Craig Culbertson, represented themselves. “Our experience with Whitney Commercial and with James Harrison in particular was excellent,” said John Campbell of 52 For Good, LLC. “James immersed himself in understanding our objectives and was highly resourceful in helping us to find just the right property. We are extremely grateful to James and the Whitney team and will definitely work together in the future.” The building is the future home of Jordan Ahlers’s Momentum Gallery.

Constructed in 1923, the three-story building overlooks Mellow Mushroom, and has served as a cornerstone of downtown business for nearly a century. Originally home to several of Asheville’s first car companies which operated into the early 1940’s, previous businesses included the Arbogast Motor Co., Thomas Cadillac Co., Mills Cadillac Co., and Asheville Motor Co. In 1943, the property was purchased by the region-wide Farmer’s Federation to become a “Frozen Food Locker Plant.” When the Federation closed in 1963, the building fell into a typical cycle of smaller retail uses, and eventual disrepair and abandonment until downtown Asheville’s 1990s revitalization. It was beautifully renovated in 1996 by Hauser and Culbertson, who converted it to an antiques retail business with top floor living spaces. Some of the building’s history can be seen in the ghosted murals on the building’s exterior surfaces.

One aspect of downtown Asheville’s appeal is its attractive mix of old and new. Renovated historical buildings are in short supply on the market, and they garner much interest when they come available, resulting in the likelihood that a positive value trend will continue in the downtown commercial real estate arena.

Press release from Momentum Gallery:

Momentum Gallery announces an expansion that will be truly game changing for Asheville’s arts community. The gallery has acquired and plans to upfit approximately 15,000 square feet of space at 52 Broadway in the heart of downtown. Once the plans to create a breathtaking space are complete, Momentum will be the largest and most accessible gallery in North Carolina. But to gallery owner Jordan Ahlers, the real news goes well beyond the space. “Our vision is to create the best contemporary art and craft gallery in the country,” said Ahlers. “In doing so, we look to strengthen this region and the City of Asheville as an art destination for people to discover and acquire museum quality art.”

Ahlers is uniquely qualified to make this happen, with deep roots in Asheville as well as in the art world. Prior to the launch of Momentum Gallery last year, Jordan Ahlers was Director of Blue Spiral 1 for 18 years, during which time he propelled the gallery to become a regional phenomenon. Looking to take his work to the next level, Momentum is continuing to compile a stable of artists that represents the best of the region while offering their work in a greater context, alongside artists who have earned international acclaim. “At the end of the day, our job here is to help people find art that makes them deliriously happy. With an incredible space and our amazing artist partners we are going to be able to do that even more effectively. We will exceed expectations, building a national reputation and encouraging more art tourism to our beloved Asheville. The additional space will allow us to increase programing opportunities for engaging exhibitions, community events, and educational and immersive art experiences.”

Momentum’s impact is already being felt well beyond Asheville. As a leading exhibition partner at both SOFA Chicago and Miami Art Week this past year, it took the art world by storm. Momentum Gallery has recently been selected to play a leadership role in other international events, bringing its artists to new audiences from around the world. “Please pardon the pun, but we have some very serious momentum now and we are so proud of what we are creating!”

While what is going on inside the gallery is exciting, so too is what is happening in the neighborhood. Bringing Momentum Gallery to 52 Broadway represents the culmination of more than a year of work to find just the right location. Along with its new neighbors the Center for Craft, Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center, Blue Ridge Public Radio (BPR), Mora Collection, On Broadway, L.O.F.T., and The Satellite Gallery, Momentum will be a cornerstone in creating this cultural corridor in the City of Asheville.

“Asheville’s future is largely dependent on the health of our creative sector. It is encouraging that entrepreneurs are opening more venues for experiencing and buying art,” says Stephanie Moore, Executive Director of the Center for Craft. “The Center for Craft, Asheville Design Center, and members of the Broadway Cultural Gateway team look forward to collaborating with Momentum and others in the neighborhood to build upon the existing Pack Place Cultural District and create a welcoming, creative entryway into our beautiful downtown.”

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5 thoughts on “52 Broadway building changes hands, to host Momentum Gallery

  1. Stef Stef

    So, another Blue Spiral? Does Asheville really need another Blue Spiral? And this is right down the street from his previous employer. This seems shady. If I were a gallerist in downtown Asheville I would be pretty ticked about this. I’m curious about the community’s reaction to having another gallery of this kind. I thought Momentum had it right the way they were doing it at the Lexington location. Such a bummer.

    • AJ

      Agreed! Looks like they couldn’t even research artists on their own and had to poach them from other galleries in town. If only someone would fact check/background what this guy is saying instead of just blindly publishing his press releases. Shady!

  2. Enlightened Enigma

    fabulous galleries bring fabulous and wealthy people to town…remember?

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