The Beat: Amazing Savings says it will stay open

Ashevilleans on the go: Some Asheville residents, including local photographer Jerry Nelson and longtime activist Clare Hanrahan participated in the June 11 march to Blair Mountain in West Virginia. Marchers aimed to convince state officials to grant a historic designation to the site where miners lost their lives fighting for the right to unionize in 1921. photos by Jerry Nelson

Amazing Savings, Pho Fusion and hi-fi staying open

Although the owners of The Downtown Market, a business and vendor outlet on 45 S. French Broad Ave., have announced that their mortgage is being foreclosed and that the Downtown Market Consignment, home to over 70 vendors, will be closing June 30, three tenants report that they're staying open.

Amazing Savings store manager Joseph Abousaid says, "The bank is going to honor all the big leases." That includes the grocery, hi-fi Coffee Bar and Pho Fusion.

Downtown Market co-owner Bobby Potts had hoped that First Bank — formerly The Bank of Asheville — would work with current tenants to keep their leases. Of the building's overall fate, he remarked, “We struggled from the beginning just trying to make a go at it and trying to do something that would fit in to the economy.

“We had our loan with the Bank of Asheville. They were actually working with us, [but on] Jan. 21, [the] Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. stepped in and First Bank took over. … The bottom line, to make a very long story short: They want us to pay off the loan, and the building isn’t worth what it was in 2007,” Potts said.

In a letter to the Downtown Market’s tenants explaining the foreclosure, Potts and co-owner Josiah Hyatt attributed the economic downturn to the lack of options the business faces, saying, “There are almost no loans for commercial buildings and new businesses, especially with a shortage now in value, leaving us with no real choices.”

Amazing Savings, hi-fi and Pho Fusion have announced that they've worked out agreements with the bank. Citing the five-year lease that First Bank has said it will honor, Amazing Savings' Abousaid says, "As long as we’re supported by the community, we're going to stay."
Joseph Chapman

Saving Blair Mountain

More than 1,000 people, including Asheville-area residents like activist Clare Hanrahan, gathered in Blair, W.Va., on Saturday, June 11, at the base of historic Blair Mountain to rally for the abolition of mountaintop removal, strengthened labor rights, the protection of the mountain and investment in a sustainable local economy for Appalachia.

In 1921, scores of miners lost their lives at Blair Mountain when the coal companies teamed up with local law enforcement and federal officials to put an end to a strike and attempts to unionize. Asheville photographer Jerry Nelson and other area residents took part in a five-day, 50-mile march that ended with a rally at the historic site.

The marchers' aim was to convince state officials to follow through with efforts to give the site a historic designation and to protect it from proposed mining that would likely level the mountain.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. took part, telling marchers, “When I was 14 my father said to me, ‘… There is no way you can regenerate an economy from these barren moonscapes that are left behind and they are doing it so they can break the unions,’ and that is exactly what happened.”

Following the same route that 10,000 union coal miners took in 1921 on their way to organize non-union Mingo County, marchers placed a memorial to the 1921 miners on the original battleground.
— Margaret Williams

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