Developer Chuck Tessier and restaurateur Dwight Butner are both well-known figures in downtown Asheville. Tessier founded the real-estate firm Tessier and Associates, while Butner is the owner of Vincenzo’s Ristorante and a two-time candidate for City Council, last year becoming the first independent candidate to make it past the primaries.
Now they’re both vying for a spot on the Downtown Commission, to be appointed by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. The board was originally set to make the decision at its Feb. 19 meeting, but Tessier and Butner tied with two votes each, as Commissioner David Young was absent from the meeting. On March 18, Young will cast the deciding vote.
Both have served on the Downtown Commission before, Butner most recently in his role as President of the Downtown Association (the office automatically gets a seat).
Tessier hopes to return to the commission primarily to play a role in developing a new Downtown Master Plan. “There’s so much at stake—we’re in desperate need of another plan,” Tessier told Xpress. “I’d like to help frame those ideas for the next 20 years very much.”
He added that “I’ve been part of the downtown revival since 1985 and I look forward to using my knowledge and experience to help it in the future.”
Butner told Xpress that downtown is at a “cusp moment” and faces issues of how to handle new growth. He said that as a downtown business owner, “I have skin in the game.”
“For the last 20 to 25 years, we’ve pulled off one of the greatest revitalizations of a downtown in the Southeast,” Butner said. “But now that’s succeeded, there aren’t really any old buildings left to revitalize. The question now is, ‘How do we deal with new growth?’”
Soliciting input from downtown residents and business owners needs to be a major part of the process, he added.