ABC board opts to stay put

Bad news for people trying to sell big hunks of Asheville property, but good news for Asheville and Buncombe County taxpayers: The Asheville ABC board has decided to expand its current warehouse space, instead of buying property elsewhere and building new administration and warehouse facilities.

With rising liquor sales in Asheville, the town’s Alcoholic Beverage Control system has plenty of money splashing around, so it could easily afford to sink money into land buys and construction contracts.

However, North Carolina law requires that ABC profits be divided among the city, county and state governments. Bigger local ABC profits mean more gravy to fatten those governments’ bank accounts.

Asheville’s ABC board had chosen Beverly-Hanks & Associates to find suitable land — with or without buildings on it — for office space, a warehouse and a mixed-beverage outlet (which serves bars and restaurants). However, ABC Supervisor Frank Worley said the city’s new Unified Development Ordinance has made it hard to find such property in an area zoned for warehouses.

“We get a lot of business traffic,” Worley told ABC board members during their monthly meeting on Jan. 27. So far, the only available properties have been along the French Broad River, he said. “We think [the site] ought to be [more upscale] than an old tobacco warehouse.”

The board agreed to consider architectural bids for increasing the amount of warehouse space on its current 0.8-acre site at 1 Cherry St.

Worley has said for months that the ABC system needs more space to stockpile the growing number of varieties of bottled liquor on the market.

— by Brenda Fullick

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