City responds to downtown parking woes with 50 Asheland lot

50 Asheland parking lot
COMING SOON: The city of Asheville has leased a surface parking lot at 50 Asheland Ave. to offer monthly parking for those who work downtown. The lot will offer 100 spaces at a monthly rate of $70 per space. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Low supply, high demand — Asheville’s downtown businesses may prefer that economic situation for their own wares, but not for parking. Members of the Asheville Downtown Association and Downtown Commission have long advocated for more spaces in the heart of the city to meet their need for affordable employee parking.

Now, the city of Asheville has announced a new monthly parking program to help satisfy that demand through a lot at 50 Asheland Ave. Slated to open on Saturday, Sept. 1, the lot will offer 100 new spaces with 24/7 access at $70 per month.

Meghan Rogers, executive director of the Asheville Downtown Association, welcomes the additional capacity. She says that the lack of parking creates issues for downtown employees, as well as anyone who drives to downtown Asheville for their everyday needs.

“Our members have consistently identified a need for parking in downtown as one of their top concerns for at least 10 years,” Rogers says. She also points to last year’s Downtown Census survey, conducted in partnership with the Downtown Commission’s Local Living Economy Subcommittee, which found that 33 percent of business owners had their employees park at on-street meters.

“This is not ideal for a couple of reasons: One, it puts the employee at risk for parking tickets if they are unable to continuously feed the meter,” Rogers explains. “[The second is that] it doesn’t allow for necessary turnover of the parking spot, which is helpful for businesses.”

Employees who could find street parking, however, were nearly matched by those with less luck. In the same survey, another 32 percent of respondents answered the question of “Where do your employees park?” with “They can’t find parking; this is a common complaint.”

For the next couple of years, at least, downtown businesses will have another option. The city of Asheville will lease 50 Asheland from its current owner, the Harold A. Talbert Jr. Revocable Living Trust, with an opportunity to purchase the property after the two-year lease term if the project proves successful. Not including insurance or site maintenance such as new lighting and repainted lines, the city will pay approximately $5,833 per month for the lot.

Angela Bausola, manager at Ben’s Tune Up at 195 Hilliard Ave., spoke favorably about the long-term parking program and its future in Asheville. “It [parking] is a real issue for sure. … I think [the lot is] going to be great for this side of Asheville.”

A small portion of the lot will also be used to stage construction for the renovation of the nearby ART station at 49 Coxe Ave., which will begin in early 2019. That project will include platform improvements, as well as a restroom expansion that will add baby-changing tables and multiple new stalls. New solar panels will help power the facility.

Those interested in renting a parking space can contact Parking Services at 828-259-5792. Dana Frankel, downtown development specialist with the city, notes that there is currently interest in over 80 of the 100 available spaces. Potential monthly parkers will be contacted shortly before the lot becomes operational for payment information and to distribute hang tags.

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6 thoughts on “City responds to downtown parking woes with 50 Asheland lot

  1. luther blissett

    There is not a “lack of parking” downtown. A quick glance at a satellite photo will show all of the under-occupied surface lots are accompanied by WILL TOW notices. There are a lot of them. There is a lack of free/cheap parking downtown, and that’s not a terrible lack. There is a “walking problem” where people can’t imagine parking more than 10 minutes’ walk from their intended destination.

    Maybe the TDC can open its 44-space lot near the tunnel to employees of city businesses and run a shuttle to Pack Square? Seems fair, given that their lot is mostly un-used and they’re rolling in money.

    • Jay Reese

      Yea sadly studies show people are only willing to walk about a quarter mile after parking their car or from their house to the bus stop. This is pretty pathetic given humans were designed to walk and this ability is what helped us populate the planet. We were not born to drive cars which probably accounts for all the bad driving with its death and destruction. You would think with the Obesity epidemic people would be willing to walk more. It seems they would rather drive to the gym and walk on the treadmill while watching TV.

  2. Jay Reese

    With such a high demand they should have increased the rate. Providing cheap parking only encourages people to drive in lieu of the taking the bus or other modes. Getting people out of their cars and onto the bus is the only way we are going to alleviate our traffic woes.

  3. Mike

    The empty will tow lots are likely privately owned and charging per hour rates that a service laborer cannot reasonably afford.
    Likewise, many service laborers cannot afford housing on the bus line, so have to live out in the county and drive downtown.
    The way I read this article, the city is offering the monthly lot as an option for downtown employees.
    What would be great would be if they could make it an income based lot- median income or less only.
    Sadly, that can’t happen, so will likely be rented by attorneys, architects, medical professionals, and the other above-median folks who work downtown.
    Other answers?
    Increase minimum wage or invest more money in mass transit.

  4. cecil bothwell

    Mike, that’s why the City uses parking fees to boost the transit system. We could certainly use more park’n’ride lots on the outskirts. One thing I pressed for, unsuccessfully, while on Council was for City employees to use more remote parking and a shuttle. (There is some of that already.) A shuttle system for large employers like the City, County and hospital would surely help.
    As I’ve been pointing out for a few years, the upcoming driverless vehicle revolution is going to radically change parking demand in downtowns. Uber is already operating “Uber-pool” service in many cities, a big shift from the old fashioned car pool. In the past a car pool needed a group of participants who lived pretty near to each other, and generally worked at the same place. Uber-pool means everyone on the same block can share a ride and go to jobs all over a city. The other problem with car-pools was if you weren’t the day’s driver and you needed a car in the middle of the day, or had to work late, you were stuck. Now you just call another Uber or Lyft. And both companies are going to go driverless as fast as the technology allows. Within the decade I suspect.

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