A-B Tech to demolish Enka campus tower

Buncombe County seal

By Daniel Canady

“It’s better to destroy than to create when you’re not creating those few things which are truly necessary,” says a character in Federico Fellini’s 8 ½. Perhaps Buncombe County leaders have been watching the classic Italian filmmaker: Included on the Board of Commissioners agenda for Tuesday, Nov. 15, is a memorandum approving the demolition of the Enka Tower on A-B Tech’s Enka campus.

The structure, previously known as the Haynes Building, is over 50 years old and has been vacant since 2015. While the tower once held continuing education, emergency services and early childhood programs, according to 2018 reporting by the Citizen-Times, A-B Tech no longer has a certificate of occupancy for the space.

County and college staffers believe it will be more cost-effective to demolish the building than to renovate it. The memorandum of understanding between Buncombe and A-B Tech would allow the county to manage the demolition and fund it using Article 46 sales tax, which by state law must support projects at the community college.

The MOU does not provide a budget or schedule for tearing down the tower, only stating that the work “will be completed in a timely fashion and cost-efficient manner.” The document also does not specify the college’s plans for the land that would be made available as a result of the demolition.

In other news

On the heels of a $384,000 budget amendment to fund six conservation easements Oct. 4, commissioners will vote on another package of three projects to preserve county farmland. A total of $113,000 would go toward protecting 202 acres on three farms in Sandy Mush.

Buncombe had allocated $750,000 for conservation easements in this year’s budget, so no further funds would be required for the work. The county aims to conserve 6,000 additional acres by 2030.

Consent agenda and public comment

The board’s consent agenda for the meeting contains nine items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. In addition to the routine approval of previous meeting minutes and the Enka Tower MOU, the agenda includes the following highlights:

  • Approval of updates to the fiscal 2022-23 spending plan for the Buncombe County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council. The changes reallocate about $85,000 that had originally been slated for Trinity Place, a shelter for runaway and homeless youth that closed in May. Over half of the money will now help the county’s Justice Services “establish a program component that will provide clinical juvenile assessments and group counseling.”
  • Approval of a $115,000 budget amendment accepting a grant from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bolster COVID-19 response in county schools. The money will expand the scope of an existing county contract for school nursing to include “the coordination of COVID-19 screening, testing, and vaccine administration effort.”

The full agenda and supporting documents for the regular meeting can be found at this link. Prior to their regular meeting, commissioners will hold a special session at 1 p.m. to interview candidates for the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority board. They will also hold a 3:00 p.m. briefing to discuss the county’s Code Purple homelessness response, affordable housing policy and other matters.

In-person public comment will be taken at the start of the regular meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. in room 326 at 200 College St., Asheville; no voicemail or email comments will be permitted. Both the briefing and the regular meeting will be live-streamed on the county’s Facebook page and will subsequently be available via YouTube.


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One thought on “A-B Tech to demolish Enka campus tower

  1. Curious

    Does the Enka Tower have some significance (historic? architectural?) that makes tearing it down problematic? The reporter’s odd opening sentence, with its somewhat arcane reference to a Fellini movie, seems to imply that this will be a loss for the community. The link to John Boyle’s column about this seems to cover the matter.

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