Business, nonprofit roundup: Flat Iron Hotel slated to open in the fall

COMING SOON: Asheville City Council approved a rezoning that converted the use of the Flat Iron building from office space into a boutique hotel in 2019. Photo by Thomas Calder

The Flat Iron Hotel, at 20 Battery Park Ave. in downtown Asheville, is slated to open this fall, according to the Indigo Road Hospitality Group, a Charleston, S.C. property management company.

Originally constructed in 1927, the Flat Iron Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is considered one of Asheville’s most iconic buildings. The hotel project received both criticism and praise after members of Asheville City Council narrowly approved a rezoning that would convert the use of the space from commercial and office space into a boutique hotel.

Following the approval of the hotel project, Council voted to approve a 17-month ban on new hotel construction in Asheville that lasted until September 2020. In 2021, Council revised its rules for approving new hotel projects by allowing developers to build hotels with up to 115 rooms without Council approval if they contribute community benefits such as public parking or funding for affordable housing or reparations.

The Flat Iron Hotel will comprise 71 guest rooms and six suites, and feature a rooftop bar, a speakeasy cocktail bar and an upscale Italian eatery offering dishes made from local ingredients. Details on the opening will be announced at a later date. More information at

Melinda Bullen named executive director at OnTrack WNC

OnTrack Financial Education and Counseling announced that Melinda Bullen joined the agency as executive director at OnTrack WNC on August 1. Bullen holds an Executive Master of Public Administration from Portland State University and a Bachelor of Fine Art from UNC Asheville and has previously served in roles at the Portland Water Bureau, Mount Hood Community College in Oregon and UNC Asheville. Bullen assumes the role as OnTrack’s former executive director, Celeste Collins, retires this month.

Lowe’s expands farm offerings

Home improvement company Lowe’s is expanding its farm, ranch and other outdoor products across seven locations in Asheville and Western North Carolina. The new products, such as livestock supplies, trailers, fencing, utility vehicles and specialized hardware, are aimed at those living in rural areas and will be available through the summer.

ABCCM requests donations for heat assistance

The Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry’s Relief from the Heat, which aims to provide air conditioning units, fans and other cooling assistance for families in need to prevent heat-related deaths, began last month. Last year, 267 families with 554 household members were provided cooling assistance, but ABCCM Executive Director, Rev. Scott Rogers, says the rising temperatures this year are expected to increase the need for assistance. More information at

Blind Tiger guesthouse now open

The Blind Tiger, a guesthouse and gathering space at 173 E. Chestnut St., opened in June. The property will feature 14 unique rooms and host works from local artists. Amenities will include a complimentary artisanal toast bar and yogurt bar, off-street parking and personalized concierge services. The Asheville location joins other Blind Tiger properties in Portland, Maine, and Burlington, Vt., which are managed by the Lark Hotels group. More information at

Troy Hibbs tapped as manager for Waste Pro

Waste management service Waste Pro has selected Troy Hibbs for the role of division manager of its Asheville Division. Hibbs has two decades of management experience and has worked for two of the largest solid waste companies in the Midwest for the last 10 years. As Waste Pro’s division manager, Hibbs will oversee 75 employees who operate 50 collection vehicles and serve approximately 44,000 customers throughout Buncombe County, Laurel Park, Biltmore Lake and Black Mountain.

Tony Brake named IFB Solutions facility employee of the year 

Manufacturer IFB Solutions, which employs the largest number of people who are blind in the U.S. and has locations in Asheville, Winston-Salem, Durham and Little Rock, Ark.,  recently recognized several individuals through the nonprofit’s 2023 Employee Awards, including Asheville Facility Employee of the Year Tony Brake. Brake, who is visually impaired, has worked in assembly and packaging at IFB Solutions’ Asheville manufacturing facility since 2018.

Marla Tambellini of Explore Asheville to retire 

Marla Tambellini, senior vice president of marketing at Explore Asheville, will retire in the first quarter of 2024 after 30 years. Tambellini was recognized in the 2020 Visit NC Winners Circle by Visit NC and guided several campaigns that helped reflect and project Asheville as “Foodtopia,” Beer City and the next great live music scene, among other accomplishments. In anticipation of her departure, Explore Asheville has launched a search for a vice president of marketing. More information at

CompostNow to expand service

CompostNow, which has provided organic recycling services in Asheville since 2013, has announced plans to expand its service to Black Mountain and Swannanoa in July after growing demand from area community members.  Residents of Black Mountain and Swannanoa can now sign up for CompostNow doorstep collection service of their compostables and receive nutrient-rich compost as a part of their membership. More information at

Mark Majewski to lead Kaplan CFO Solutions

Ken Kaplan, co-founder of Asheville-based CFO Solutions has stepped down from his role after 15 years. It provides senior-level chief financial officers to companies on a contract basis. Kaplan CFO equity partner Mark Majewski will assume day-to-day leadership of the firm. Majewski joined Kaplan in 2019 and became an equity partner in 2021. Prior to joining Kaplan CFO, Majewski worked primarily in the food industry, where he held leadership positions in general management, sales and marketing, and finance.

WNCSource wins safety award

The N.C. Public Transportation Association recognized WNCSource Transportation, which operates Apple Country Public Transit in Hendersonville, with the NCPTA 2023 Safety Award for urban/regional/small fixed routes under 1 million miles. This is the third consecutive year that the transportation service has won the statewide award, which applauds public transit operators that demonstrate a commitment to safe transportation.  

WNCSource Transportation employs nine drivers and six busses and is contracted by Henderson County which operates Apple Country Transit’s three hourly public transit routes, paratransit service and rural routes, medical transportation, shopping routes, and community transportation for elderly and disabled residents. 

Downtown Association picks leader

The Asheville Downtown Association appointed Hayden Plemmons as executive director last month. Prior to joining the ADA, Plemmons served as the senior director of operations at the Downtown Denver Partnership, a member-based organization and Business Improvement District for downtown Denver.

Biltmore Co. to match donations at MHO

The Biltmore Co., which owns and operates Biltmore Estate, is offering a $35,000 matching gift challenge in celebration of Mountain Housing Opportunities’ 35th anniversary. The fundraising initiative, which began in June, will match all donations made to MHO on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to $35,000, resulting in at least $70,000 raised. MHO, which aims to develop and preserve affordable housing in Buncombe County and Western North Carolina, celebrated the occasion at Highland Brewing Co. July 27.

Asheville Merchants Fund awards $400,000

The Asheville Merchants Fund of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina recently awarded a total of $400,000 to eight Buncombe County nonprofit organizations to support innovative projects that strengthen community and stimulate economic growth.

Among the awards and recipients are $50,000 over two years to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina; $50,000 over two years to Black Wall Street AVL; $50,000 over two years to Center for Agricultural and Food Entrepreneurship; and $50,000 over two years to Eblen Charities. See the full list of recipients at


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