Deal Buick, for decades one of Asheville’s handful of downtown car dealers, is moving from Merrimon Avenue to new quarters near the intersection of N.C. 181 and I-26 near the Biltmore Square Mall. Asheville businessman Chris Peterson, who owns Cinjades and Magnolia’s Raw Bar and Grille and is a partner in Jasmine Developers LLC, announced last year that he and his partners had purchased the 8-acre Merrimon car lot for redevelopment.
Peterson hosted a lunchtime meeting with members of the 5-Points Neighborhood Group, which represents the project’s nearest residential neighbors, at Magnolia’s on March 14. The group’s chair, Heather Rayburn, reported that she had given Peterson an album of “good development” pictures and ideas that he’s shared with his architect. “I want to thank Chris for being willing to talk before plans are complete,” she said.
After feeding his new neighbors, Peterson explained development ideas he said are rooted in his native-born love of Asheville’s grandest buildings. He said he intends to adhere to urban-village design principles, with wide sidewalks, mixed-use buildings and substantial green space. “I would like to create a neighborhood park,” he added.
When the discussion turned to prospective dumpster sites and delivery vehicles, Peterson referenced the troubles between Greenlife Grocery and some of its neighbors. “We’ve been watching everything … and listening,” he said. “We’re not going to let commercial vehicles use residential streets.”
Less popular with the neighborhood group was a proposal to build an 11-story condominium. When Peterson asked members for suggestions, resident Peter Brezny asked, “Why not build seven- and five-story buildings, or three lower structures that would be more architecturally interesting?” Peterson jotted notes about this and other ideas pitched by attendees and said that he would ask his architect to prepare preliminary sketches of a few options for the project.
— Cecil Bothwell