Asheville trampoline park scuttled; developer blames city for slow response

A businessman says he backed out of a plan to locate an indoor trampoline park in Asheville because of delays in getting city approval for the project. Chris Brown, owner of Velocity Air Sports, says he had planned to develop the facility at a site on Sweeten Creek Road, but scuttled the effort in favor of locations in cities that are more business-friendly.

“With all due respect, Asheville is the most difficult city I have ever experienced,” Brown says in an email to City Manager Gary Jackson. “We could not get basic answers to our key concerns for almost two months. In my industry, time is money, and I was left with no alternative but to walk away from Asheville and pursue more business friendly areas.

“I simply couldn’t risk more time and effort when the same amount of time and effort in other cities produces better results,” he says. “I’m not used to having issues getting a green light to proceed.”

Brown says he has developed 16 indoor trampoline parks in Nevada, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia. He says he invests an average of $1.8 million on each facility and each one employs 40 to 50 people.

“The Indoor Trampoline Park industry is a very fast growth segment whereby allocation of capital and allocation of time are the key decision points,” he says. “I started looking at Asheville and Charleston (South Carolina) for potential locations in March and was able to reach Letters of Intent on buildings in both cities in late April.”

Brown says he hired an architect who developed preliminary plans for the Asheville facility and scheduled a meeting with city officials to facilitate the development process. The developer, building owner and others involved in the project “provided any and all requested data and were still not able to receive a definitive commitment from the City as to their interpretation of our use/code analysis,” he says, until July 8.

By comparison in Charleston, according to Brown, it took one meeting in mid-May and “we were welcomed with open arms.” He says he received a permit to start construction on June 9, and opened the facility on July 31.

“In the lag time spent trying to get traction with the City of Asheville, I started looking in Jacksonville, Florida,” he says. “During that time, I was able to locate a building, negotiate a lease, and have a meeting with City officials in which I received commitments from them as to their requirements and interpretations on our use. We are starting construction there in early September as soon as an existing tenant vacates.”

Brown says he hoped his feedback “could help make it easier on other businesses attempting to locate a facility in Asheville.”


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16 thoughts on “Asheville trampoline park scuttled; developer blames city for slow response

  1. Steven

    When are things going to change with the City of Asheville? Over and over again, we hear from very experienced people that Asheville is the most anti-business and difficult city they have ever dealt with. People not being able to get basic answers out of the City planning/permitting is also a very familiar tune. People wonder why there are so few well paying, non-tourist related jobs in this Town, you need only look at our City officials and permitting employees. They do everything they can do discourage any kind of business development, unless it is a hotel or brewery.

  2. Cynthia Britt

    That’s a shame. My niece was looking forward to this. What else is downtown for young children?

    • Lance Rockwood

      You mean, besides dirty, smelly hippies; drunks; panhandlers; and drugs?

    • Gary W

      There is still another trampoline park (Launch) going through the city’s permitting process proposed for Walden Dr. They have a tentative open date for early winter. The one that pulled out was the second park announced for Asheville.

        • Me

          Well then, Welcome. There are more than “dirty, smelly hippies; drunks; panhandlers; and drugs” Downtown. Don’t let the haters jade you to this great city.

          • Cynthia Britt

            Well I was tempted to respond “Great! My kind of people” LOL but I refrained. Thank you. Still wrapping up the move details but looking forward to an enjoyable retirement here and a place with lots to do when family visits.

    • Jaded Local

      Not much at all for young children here. We used to have the circus every year until all the killjoys chased it, and all the dollars that went into the local economy, down to Greenville.

  3. Jeff Fobes

    Please keep comments to the topic of the article, which is a substantial one for Asheville. Further off-topic comments may be deleted.

  4. Tom

    As with all things, there is likely more to the story that was not included. The article only contains Brown’s point of view and includes no information from a City representative. I don’t know why MountainX is being unbalanced in its reporting, but I will wait to make judgement until I hear the other side of the coin.

    • Jeff Fobes

      Good point, Tom. The story has only the investor’s side. We wanted to get the story up quickly and hope to have more on this next week.

    • Terry Smith

      Waiting for the City council to answer if your not in the circle of influence. Plus as in any town politics is all about knowing the right people and supporting them as the run for office. as far as the trampoline business I think it would work. but for now we will never know.

  5. Jay

    This is par for the course for Asheville. Slow permitting, worse staffing of the inspectors who give conflicting guidance if and when you can actually get an answer.

    But don’t worry. If you want to meet an inspector just do something, anything they can gig you on. They will be there to take your money then.

    One example- if you have seen the new Autozone on Smoky Park Highway, when they were about to tear down the old Slagle Motors the contractor told the Slagle family if they wanted any signs or mementos from the building to get them because demolition would start as soon as the permit allowed. The day before the demo was to start the family removed one window that had the name painted on it. The city of Asheville- the same offices that can’t get inspectors to you in a timely fashion or approve any permits in a timely fashion or even answer questions when you need answers- issued the contractor a $500 fine for “early demolition” because the family removed the window the day before the permit for demolition was valid. They can’t get your permits done in a reasonable time, buy they can evidently lay in watch to make sure nobody takes a pane of glass out a few hours early if it means more $$$ in Ashevilles coffers.

    Just up the hill they were redoing the parking lot and the layout did not allow for the standard 8×8 layout for an ADA access aisle, the inspector told them to make it 7×9 and they were ok. A week later after the paint is done another inspector from the same office shows up and tells them that they have to take up the paint and redo it because it must be 8×8- and it took a week for them to settle the dispute in their own office and give a final answer for the business.

    Anyone who has the option of locating their business anywhere but Asheville would be well advised to. Anyone considering it really should talk to others first, including contractors who have worked in the city before.

    Here is another article showing how this is anything but an isolated incident. It is correct in saying that the biggest problem dealing with this problem is getting people to speak up. The permitting folks have the ability to make your business life in Asheville hard or even shut you down and you can’t do crap about it but take it- so most are fearful to speak up. Its much like a mob protection racket- you had best just play and go along or life will get worse for you.

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