Downtown Master Plan takes giant step forward

The Boston, Mass., planning firm Goody Clancy has been given the nod to develop a new Downtown Master Plan for Asheville. The master plan, which will build on the existing City Center Plan of 2002, is intended to offer a sustainable-growth guide for the next 10 years in the downtown area. Goody Clancy was picked from the six top teams on the list of finalists considered by the Downtown Master Plan Advisory Panel — made up of city and county staff and members of the Downtown Commission.

The firm’s proposal to the city included team members Mary Means and Associates of Alexandria, Va. (creator of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street program), national transportation consultants Kimley-Horn and Associates (associated with past Asheville projects) and the Asheville-based Heritage Directions (specializing in economic development and cultural heritage). Noting “the energy of downtown Asheville today,” Goody Clancy’s proposal to the city declared that a new plan should honor the city’s “unique character,” attracting new investment, residents and visitors while creating a sustainable environment (see “Coming Soon to a Downtown Near You,” Xpress, Dec. 19, 2007).

Scope of work and a contract with the firm will be developed this month, with an anticipated authorization resolution to go to City Council in early March.

The full text of the city’s announcement of the decision is below.

— Nelda Holder, associate editor


February 8, 2008
City of Asheville
Office of Economic Development/General Administration Department
Contact: Stephanie Monson, Urban Planner for Economic Development
Day: (828) 232 4502
Background information: go to; choose ‘Projects and
Initiatives’ on the left hand menu; click on ‘Downtown Master Plan RFQ’. 

Goody Clancy listed as top ranked firm for
City of Asheville’s Downtown Master Plan  

At the regular meeting of the Downtown Commission this morning, newly hired
Downtown Master Plan Project Manager Sasha Vrtunski announced that the
Downtown Master Plan Advisory Panel,  made up of City and County staff and
members of the Downtown Commission, has listed the Goody Clancy team from
Boston, Massachusetts as the top ranked firm.  Negotiations with the Goody Clancy
have begun and staff expects to develop the scope of work and execute a contract
this month. 

In addition to being a highly qualified and award winning firm, Goody Clancy is
partnering with team members whose skills and experience are extraordinarily well
suited for this project, including: 
An economic development specialist of cultural heritage who is an Asheville resident; 
the creator of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street program; and
transportation consultants who have a successful track record working with the City
of Asheville’s Engineering department on large projects. The advisory panel projects
this team will deliver a detailed, comprehensive and practical planning document to
guide the growth of the downtown area over the next ten years.

Asheville City Council will consider a resolution regarding authorization to execute a
contract with Goody Clancy at their February 19th meeting. If Council approves the
authorization, expect to see intense, comprehensive public outreach start this spring. 

The Downtown Master Plan is an initiative proposed by the Asheville Downtown
Commission; The Downtown Commission hopes that the plan will help citizens,
elected officials, and City and County staff more clearly address the most pressing
issues facing downtown today. 

For more information on the Downtown Master Plan process, email Sasha Vrtunski at or call Ms. Vrtunski at 828-232-4599


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108 thoughts on “Downtown Master Plan takes giant step forward

  1. A planning firm from Boston?

    What do they know about planning for a Southern highlands town?

    Naught but beans, I’m afraid. Another waste of money.

  2. zen

    Gee, that’s fair Ralph. What do you know about Goody Clancy other than what you’ve googled about them after i asked? I too would rather local architectural and planning monies go to talented local companies, but assuming they know nothing about city planning? That’s harsh, man.

  3. No, it not fair, Zen, its WARRANTED… everytime the city of Asheville needs an expert or to replace the fire or police chief, or the civic center manager — they look outside.

    it’s not harsh enough, this is a short-sighted, damaging, INSULTING policy to all people who live in this area and know a bunch more about it than some carpetbagger from up North.

    And I did not say Goody Clancy knew nothing about city planning, I said essentially that they know nothing about planning for a Southern mountain town, which we are.

    so, yes, it’s time we started standing against this type of stupidity. It is and has always been part of our mountain culture to do things for ourselves… let’s get back to that.

  4. NOT being from here originally
    [ surprise, surprise ], I tend to agree with Ralph.
    There seems to be a plethora of talent AND intelligence that are indigenous to the area –why not choose locally? Conversely, an outsider looking in might not be a bad perspective to have. The question is, how much is Goody Clancy going to cost, and who will pay for it.

  5. nuvue

    I have to totally agree with Ralph also. We don’t need planning from an other perspective, we need judicious city planning from a group that knows city planning AND has a historical base in WNC. I wouldn’t even want a Raleigh based group to tell us what Asheville needs.

  6. Sage

    The hostility to “outsiders” is exactly what this town needs less of. These firms have great reputations and will be looking for public input. But hey it’s a lot easier to just bitch and moan on here and contribute nothing positive at all.

  7. travelah

    Ralph is quite right about the nonsense of looking far away when local needs are to be addressed. It would seem the City of Asheville is looking to be a cookie cutter facade of a mountain city as imagined from the perspective of several well educated professionals who have no long term vested interest in the cultural product they are creating.

  8. No, Sage, we need less ‘outsiders’ … and before all you guys from New Jersey go nuclear, my point is this:

    If you want to move here and join us, fine… just don’t try to make us like that place you don’t like where you used to live… otherwise, what’s the point of moving here?

    We need guidance from LOCALS (whether nativeborn or here long enough to invest your love into the area), we DO NOT need outside ‘experts’ who have no knowledge of what the mountains are all about screwing things up further.

    And to modify that a bit more, Sage — we are not hostile to all outsiders, just those that think they know more than we do. Usually, they don’t.

  9. Sage

    Tension between natives and transplants happens everywhere in this country. We have a mobile society. It’s only going to get more tranisent. The days of “my town” and not yours are over. The decision about the city plan has been made. The only and best option left is to participate or be totally left out. These people are experts for a reason. Don’t trash everything before it even starts.

  10. nuvue

    What gets me is on some former blog threads we have locals who have huge degree’s, and are working in some other field cuz they can’t get higher quality jobs. Communities need to first look locally, and then move outwards. How about the local food movement? Same idea.

  11. Sage, with all due respect, being an expert in Boston does not necessarily translate to being an expert anywhere south of, say, Richmond.

    until, of course, you get to the Florida line — then things change again.

    this is the wrong decision, we do not need Northerners telling us how to plan our city.

  12. Nam Vet

    My God, why are we giving our city over to a YANKEE firm? Boston sucks,why bring it here? STUPID squared.

  13. Nam Vet

    Ralph, RIGHT ON! The idea of a Boston yankee changing Asheville makes my blood boil.

  14. We’re not intolerant, Zen… we just want the job done right. A planning firm from Boston? Big Dig (big leak), streets that follow ages-old cow paths, etc.

    It’s past time to stop this insanity of using outsiders to do things we can do far better for ourselves.

    I realize a lot of transplants may take umbrage… but, hey, remember where you live NOW. It is okay for you to disparage “them stupid Yankees”, too, since you no longer live in those ‘furrin’ climes. ;-). Welcome to the real world.

  15. Gordon Smith

    It looks like a lot of folks agree that looking for local talent is good for our local economy and sense of place. That being said, we need even more local people to organize well enough to provide the services that we’re outsourcing to far-flung companies.

    I think it’s important not to turn this into a insider/outsider argument, since there will always be nativists who have real contempt for anyone who doesn’t look and talk like them. Nativism is understandable, but not necessarily virtuous. Encouraging local government to do business with local companies is obviously the right way to keep our local dollars here in the area, but using the nativist argument doesn’t fly.

    How many of the groups who bid to do the Downtown Master Plan were made up of locals? I don’t know the answer, but my guess is there weren’t many. Anyone here know?

    Ralph was/is also against the Asheville Design Group’s I-26 connector design, too, in large part (as I understand it) because the designers weren’t born here and weren’t in the DOT patronage system. However, the design is by far the best idea that’s come out 10 years of wrangling on this issue.

    Looking at ways to encourage the city to seek local talent first, there may be ways to create some sort of preference system of application that would use a rating system for city contracts. Local groups could get “points” for being from here. They could also add “points” to groups who employ minorities or provide living wages. Everyone would, of course, still need to be vetted to determine their ability to do the job, but this way might raise up local groups who are working hard to compete with outside-Asheville companies.

    Just some ideas. Reactions?

  16. maybe there isn’t a good talented firm around TOWN eh? from what i’ve seen from local talent, i haven’t been super impressed. hence looking elsewhere. however, some of the best architecture and planning in the state is found in the Raleigh/Triangle area. i agree, it would’ve been nice to find at least an IN STATE firm. that could’ve been feasible. but oh well. the Big Dig competition brought some great firms out from all over the nation. i had friends that competed and most the entries were amazing. boston firms usually have a great experience in planning. i’m sure that they can come up with a solid proposal. and in this digital age, it is easier than ever to pull out solid designs from far away places. i don’t discourage the questions about out-of-town firms, but the ‘competition’ to generate good designs is always a good thing. looks like these guys just did a better job. if you think otherwise, get up there and change it.

  17. Fallstaff

    I like the old architecture here. New buildings should be just like what we already have. And I don’t like the idea of a northern outsider planning to change our town!

  18. travelah

    OK ok … I’ll do it …. for half the cost the city is paying those other folks :)

  19. Yes, Gordon, I am still against the I-26 delay but not for the reasons you say — I’m against it because it was supposed to have been FINISHED by now, not in an endless circle of going back to the drawing board. Another example of outsiders meddling when DOT can build the roads and, by coincidence, that is THEIR job, not ADC’s or anyone else’s.

    And I’ll keep saying that, Gordon — you can’t censor me here, bubba.

    However, I do invite you and others who tend to look at things in such an outsider-Asheville-centric manner (i.e. “I live in Asheville, it has to be just like the towns up North”) to consider Asheville’s regional role — it is THE commercial hub for the area and that overrides some of the “let’s keep this town just like it was before the Great Depression” mantras. We need upgrades in transportation, additional office space, more stores and shopping opportunities, etc. Yes, by all means it needs to be planned but by people who understand this area’s unique culture and needs.

    Join us, Gordon — you LIVE here now. You’re supposed to be on our side.

  20. And — just an observation in general — why is it that so-called progressives most always launch personal attacks when they disagree with someone? Just wondering.

  21. Fallstaff

    Ralph, it is because “progressives” are not tolerant people. Someone on here said liberalism is a religion. I think it is to many “progressives”. That is why they go to anger so quickly if someone disagrees with their dogma.

  22. Gordon Smith

    Ralph, Ralph, Ralph…

    First of all, where’s the “personal attack”? I think you intend to say, “Why do those progressives continue to disagree with me?”

    Secondly, you’ve never been censored at Scrutiny Hooligans. Please stop the fiction.

    Thirdly, my position has never been “I live in Asheville, it has to be just like the towns up North”. I agree with you, Ralph, that “it needs to be planned but by people who understand this area’s unique culture and needs.” Where we part ways is your assumption that only people from here can ever understand the culture and needs. If you read my comment above, you see that I’m for having local talent preferred over outside talent, so what’s your beef?

    Fourthly, your position on why you oppose the I-26 connector is that it was delayed too long in the first place. Is that right? I’m not trying to mischaracterize, but over Scrutiny Hooligans there were some nuances to the argument. I’ll quote them here for you:

    “it is incredibly arrogant for a very few in Asheville — mostly transplants from Northern climes — to claim they know more about it than the vast majority of us, the real people.”

    “everyone talking about it with DOT standing around, leaning on their shovels, until the cute little village folk in Asheville finish thumping their little drums while firating through this long series of ‘builda cute bridge, builda cute bridge’ dances.”

    ““Mr. MINICOZZI has lived in Asheville since 2003 and holds an architectural degree from the University of Miami with post-graduate work in Urban Planning at Harvard. …”

    I count FOUR reasons in that sentence we should discount his opinions on the I-26 completion and go with DOT’s solution.

    I will flog the obvious and spell them out:

    1. He’s an architect NOT a bridge engineer or even a civil engineer.

    2. The University of Miami. Yeah, right… lots of mountains in Miami.

    3. Harvard? Come on!

    4. He’s only lived in Asheville since 2003? What does he know about this area? (that’s a rhetorical question, by the way).”

    “NCDOT are not outsiders, they have been building roads and bridging mountain torrents here in these mountains for well over a century. They certainly are not outsiders. In fact, my father worked for them back in the 1930s. I trust them to do it and do it the best way. I DO NOT trust ADC. It is my tax money and I want it done right and done now…”

    “I don’t disagree with half the asphalt, half the acreage, etc. So, why didn’t you guys bring this up in 1997? Then maybe ‘half the cost overruns’ would have meant something, now they’re dwarfed by what we’ve already lost and will continue to lost through the ongoing delays. ADC is not a solution to the problem, they are PART of the problem.”

    I could go on and on, Ralph, but your argument then was that it took too long, and we should’ve just used an inferior DOT design because you trust the DOT folks. Your argument against the ADC design is that it came too late and that it was concocted by non-natives. It doesn’t seem to matter that it’s the best plan – half the asphalt, half the bridges, half the acreage, half the projected cost of the DOT plan. If locals had proposed the ADC plan ten years, that would have been better. I imagine we agree. But they didn’t, and our city leaders had the good sense to wait for a good plan rather than rush into a half-assed plan.

    Anyway – back to the matter at hand. We build local infrastructure by hiring and buying local as much as possible while encouraging our government to do the same. I look forward to the day when we have so much homegrown talent that we never need to look beyond the mountains for help.

  23. I have lived in Asheville for 11 years and have worked at several design firms, there are definitely enough talented designers here to do the job. I also see the benefit of having an outside perspective. It is very common in the industry for national companies to team up with local firms. With the “team” approach you get fresh un-emotional perspective from the outside that works with a local who knows the site specific details and nuances.

    The city should not accept proposals from firms that are not teamed with a local firm. It is next to impossible for an outside firm to visit the city a few times then go to there home office and design an intelligent plan. In fact the most likely outcome will be boiler plate designs that are pulled from other projects, similar in size and demographics.

  24. travelah

    JMAC, that is a good point. What Asheville will get is either “New England Quaint” or “California East” as a result of “boiler plate” designs. This firm is going to build on what it has already done. Asheville and the surrounding community is a unique place not because of the diversity of souls and ideas that have flocked here but because of where it is, the mountain cultures and how it serves as a focal point for the area.
    But … it’s a done deal and Asheville will have to live with it.

  25. Fallstaff

    Who is the idiot in City government that thinks we need a master plan? It’s easy. Slow careful growth and make new buildings blend in with the 100 year old ones.

  26. Trey

    What does some one from a small town know about sustainable growth….. there hasn’t been any yet and the downtown area is already a freakin’ nightmare.

    Maybe with the help of someone outside this area we may avoid the mistakes they have already made in their town.

    This whole “yankee coming down and taking our jobs” thing is just silly. Reminds me of a great South Park episode.

  27. What does some one from a large city know about sustainable growth….. there hasn’t been any yet and the downtown Boston area is already a freakin’ nightmare.

    Maybe with the help of someone outside this area we may replicate the mistakes they have already made in other towns.

    The North Vs The South thing that keeps coming up is silly.

  28. Aliasjoe

    Did anyone read the article above? There is local talent with the teams. I believe that every team that submitted had local talent to varying degrees.

  29. Fallstaff

    Trey, outside yankee “guidance” is very unwanted here. The north sucks, made that way by know-it-all socialists. Yet they move down here first chance they get. The last thing I want is for Asheville to change much. And have a Boston firm do it? No way. You transplants that want to change things here can just go back where you came from.

  30. Ashevegasjoe

    I agree with JMAC, teaming up local and national firms, while actually involving the public is the most sensible growth.

    Falstaff and Ralph, I have to say once more (I swear this is the last time), liberalism isn’t a religion (see “all about the love” thread), we don’ get angry. If anyone gets angry and starts calling people names, it is clearly documented in these posts. Anger and irrationality is the calling card of conservatism, as well as out of control growth in the name of profit. –Love ya’

  31. Gee, Gordon… all that sure looks like a personal attack to me. I stand by my opinions, they’re mine and those of many others in this area.

    As to censorship, you that’s what you did when you didn’t like my opinions. In all my time on the Internet, only you and Tim Peck have ever censored me.

    But I’ll be fair — if you truly are NOT blocking meyite, add a comment, and have it immediately appear? … tell you what, I’m going to open another instance of my browser right now and check …..


    your site is still seriously sloooow, by the way…




    NOPE, says “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” … that’s censorship, Gordon and it’s the one thing I will not forgive. So, you and Tim go your way in your lonely little ‘progressive’ crowd.

  32. Johnny

    Ralph and Nam Vet and all you folks who come on here spewing hatred on ANYTHING from the north, using ad hominem attacks left and right, are just a bunch of insecure whiners. This constant us vs. them attitude is childish, and betrays your real personas. Get over it already.

  33. I think the term ‘ad hominem’ (Latin — roughly “argument against the man”) is being greatly overused and misused on this board. I, for one, am not attacking specific people (although Gordon is sure tempting me, heh heh) but rather the philosophy of those who do not yet understand mountain culture and ways.

    Look at it this way, continue to call us (in so many words) dumb hillbillys and you’ll get more than you give. Admit locals might, just might, know a bit more about it than you do, if you’ve just recently arrived, and we’ll all get along much better.

    Take the topic at hand … a lot of outsiders ‘ooh’ and ‘awww’ over all our quaint old buildings. But.. WHY do we have them and not so many new ones. Because Asheville went literally bankrupt during the Depression years (and the city did not retire the debt it incurred until the 1970s). Those of us who are natives love the old buildings but we also want to see the town grow and prosper, which means new buildings as well.

    In short, we DO NOT want outside ‘experts’ trying to preserve a ‘behind the times’ town as a museum, but rather oiling the gears of commerce. And that’s not what I’m hearing right now.

  34. by the way, saying Nam Vet and I “spew hate’ is an ad hominem attack. ;-)

    by doing that you respond to an argument by attacking us rather than replying to the logic of our statements. Neither of us deserve that kind of disrepect.

    research, instead, how Asheville arrived at it’s current state and tell us a better way of jumpstarting our economy. For many decades we’ve been a ‘tourist’ economy here — people coming to gaze on our old buildings that we could not afford to replace and attract real survival-level wages. … with the migration of what few textile plants we had to Mexico and China, the job market has tightened even more.

    no, we don’t ‘hate’ Northern ideas but neither do we think they are the answer … at least not any sort of complete answer.

  35. Johnny

    Ralph, I’m not talking about this case in particular, I’m talking about the near constant bashing that you and others jump for giving any chance.

    Also, when you use the word “we” as in what we want in Asheville, please remember we are not monolithic — and also that you don’t speak for us.

  36. It’s not bashing to point out a wrong or at least inappropriate philosophy for this area.

    And, Johnny, I was using ‘we’ in the plural but not totally inclusive sense.

    Of course we can speak for you — you guys just don’t listen. ;-)

  37. As an ‘outsider’ who now lives/loves here, and claims Asheville as ‘my town’, I must say that I admire the passion with which this and other topics generate. Those who have feelings one way or the other seem do so out of love and respect. How blessed are we that we have this incredible diversity.
    Ralph, as a Jeresy boy, I’ll overlook the remarks made about the garden state [ this time ].
    Ralph has a lot of historical knowledge about western NC, and is apparently well-versed and up to date on many current issues.
    “Can’t we all just get along”?
    [ I recall hearing someone say that at one time or another ]

  38. there ya go, Judge Mental … as to Jersey, I spent a year one week in Paramus. ;-)

    but this reminds me of one of the meetings I attended back in the late 90s when the big furore over zoning was taking place (resulting in the election when we rejected it). I overheard a little girl (from obviously an outsider family) ask her mother (after listening to the many people passionately speaking against zoning, “why do they hate us so much, mama?”

    the little girl — my heart went out to her — did not understand. We don’t hate people from up North, we dislike the philosophy they espouse which, if they would only think about it, is the exact reason they left up North to begin with. In essense, carpetbaggers are welcome, just leave your luggage at home and enjoy what even you guys agree is a better place.

    yes… we all need to get along, but not at the price of giving up our heritage.

  39. Fallstaff

    Joe, you just are not paying attention if you do not see all the anger spewed here by “progressives” toward the opposing view. Yes, sometimes it comes from the other side, but usually in response to flames first thrown by the far left.

    Johnny, if you aint from round these here parts, you don’t know jack. So, you don’t know jack, yankee transplant.

    Us locals are perfectly capable of managing the affairs of Asheville. Yankees, you have already dumped in your hometown punch bowls, we don’t need that done again here. That is insane. Transplants, take the sideline and be quiet.

  40. Gordon Smith

    In that case, Ralph, the Mtn. X is censoring you too.

    For the record, a personal attack is what happens when someone gets off topic or brings someone personal life into an argument. When I say, “You’re wrong, here’s some quotes”, that’s not personal.

    I don’t know why you’re so all fired up about comment moderation, Ralph, but as to using local talent – I’m for it. What I’m not for is a nativism that automatically gives greater quality to people born in a particular area. This naturally indicates that others are of a lower quality. It doesn’t wash with me.

    However, my above comment (the long one that got Ralph talking about personal attacks) is where I stand on it. The more local business we do, the better. If we can’t do it local, then cast the net as wide as necessary to get the right people.

  41. Fallstaff

    Ralph, there is no real hell on earth, but Joisey comes pretty close. -:)

  42. Fallstaff

    Ralph said: “We don’t hate people from up North, we dislike the philosophy they espouse which, if they would only think about it, is the exact reason they left up North to begin with. In essense, carpetbaggers are welcome, just leave your luggage at home and enjoy what even you guys agree is a better place.

    yes… we all need to get along, but not at the price of giving up our heritage.”


  43. Fallstaff

    Censorship? travelah, if you haven’t noticed, only a few of the posters are “progressive”. The rest of us are normal. -:)

  44. Ashevegasjoe

    Ralph, I gotta agree with a lot you’re saying on this thread (as well as the sausage thread). However, most people don’t come here to ooh and aww at the buildings, as much as they oooh and aww at the mountains and trees. I would love to keep the 20’s and 30’s art deco architectural thing going. I also respect your historical knowledge, that I lack. When I moved here downtown was vacant, and the revitalization has been great, and still scary. I don’t think anyone wants to loose the “charm” of downtown, but fifteen years ago, there really was no downtown. Again, I think the public, local designers, and the national firm should get together (but I realize that is idealistic at best)

  45. Johnny

    Fallstaff, I moved here more than 10 years ago, and have actually done quite a bit to retain western NC’s unique culture. Perhaps more than you have in the same time frame even. I just find it crazy to hear these constant batterings come out from you and your comprades on this and other threads implying that there is not a shred of good coming from those who have moved here and work here — and it’s all the more strange given I suspect you have benefited much from it. Not every Asheville area native has the market cornered on truth, and not every transplant has the same “philosophy”.

    A master plan that incorporates the wise voices of people who live here is essential, regardless of who the firm is that does it. To not have a plan is foolishness.

  46. Fallstaff

    Joe, say it aint so? You lied about being local, didn’t you? But I’m not surprised. You reek of yankee transplant…the way you think.

    Ralph, right on. Bottom line is slow measured growth and make new buildings fit in with the old ones. Besides, the housing boom, and moving boom,is OVER! There will not be that much ore new growth in Asheville. I just regret we have these idiots in the City government wanting to remake our wonderful town. This should be the rule of thumb, as well: no outsiders on zoning and planning. Period.

  47. That I agree with, Johnny. “Wise voices of people who live here” describes it whether nativeborn or just in residence for a few years — so let’s draw from local folks and tell the people from Boston to look for work closer to THEIR home. ;-)

  48. I believe the answer to city planning is simply ‘commonsense.’ We do not see enough of that from our city and county leaders.

  49. I think anyone bashing “outsiders” are completely missing the point. Mountain heritage first started eroding with the railroad, then the interstate, air conditioning, cable tv, cell phones and the internet. Look at the younger generations of people that have grown up here. Besides maybe an accent (which will be gone in a generation), they don’t want anything to do with “heritage.”

    Think this place is bad, try East Tennessee. Just as pretty with more building space and NO state income tax. It’s the Wild West over there compared to here. My hometown (Maryville) was a beautiful little place close to the Smokies. Then the sprawl started with endless strip malls. Ruby Tuesdays wanted to relocate their headquarters so what did they do? Why, tear down half of downtown to make way for parking lots. They still beat Asheville on parks and the library system, but I would never live there again.

    I take great offense to the bashing of Bostonians. I’ve gotten to know quite a few, and count some as my best friends, and they are some of the nicest and most giving people that I know.


  50. Viet Nam Vet

    Ralph said: I believe the answer to city planning is simply ‘commonsense.’ We do not see enough of that from our city and county leaders.”

    Ralph, you are my first choice for city planning.

  51. Viet Nam Vet

    Marc said: “I take great offense to the bashing of Bostonians. I’ve gotten to know quite a few, and count some as my best friends, and they are some of the nicest and most giving people that I know.”

    Certainly there are a lot of nice people from up north. BUT, they haven’t clue about our culture and heritage, and have spoiled their hometowns with exorbitant taxes and a soft attitude toward morality and crime. So as Ralph has mentioned above, they are welcome here. But they just should blend in and be quiet about these sort of matters. This is a local-only issue.

  52. Aliasjoe

    So who’s “common sense” are we gonna follow? Brownie Newman’s common sense? Carl Mumpower’s? Ralph’s? Or Gordon’s?

    Should we pick one and go with it? How do you make policy of “plan” from “common sense”?

  53. Ashevegasjoe

    Falstaff, I’ve already outlined my heritage on another thread (Georgia), you really make all southerners look like hate-filled morons

  54. alias Joe… of those choices I would suggest Carl and myself as having the most commonsense … but participation and determination by a wide range of people LIVING here is what I’m talking about. We simply do not need input from Boston, thank you very much.

  55. why’s the diluted conversation gone from downtown design to a geography bashing? the issue is completely lost with this kind of talk. and i’d like to think that those kind remarks could cease until one has actually viewed the different design proposals. without that perspective, you can’t really make a judgement can you? its not like the council went up to Boston and just picked this firm out of the sky. they held a competition in its own right (with help of LOCAL designers). i’d like the design to stay as local as possible too. but it’d be nice to get back to the issue of a larger “master plan” and the community’s thoughts on how to improve it rather than lashing out at the city of boston and its design firms.

  56. Aliasjoe

    The following is clipped straight out of the RFQ that is on the City’s webpage:
    “We don’t need “cookie cutter” solutions; we need innovative and artisan-like
    attention to our city. We expect this project to be a great opportunity for you, for
    all the reasons why you are passionate about your work….
    Consultant Responsibilities
    • Review existing plans, assessments and current revitalization efforts and
    evaluate appropriateness and applicability.
    • Work with the Master Plan Advisory Committee throughout the project to
    refine the work program and establish a shared vision.
    • Organize a series of charettes/public meetings with key stakeholders and
    the community to obtain ideas suggestions, and create a vision for the
    • Develop a matrix to show future development components, associated
    costs and the responsibilities of different agencies for implementation of
    the plan.
    • Prepare conceptual development plans and graphics for the study area,
    and specific development plans and graphics for key nodes and sites.
    • We expect the final product to include an ARCGIS map, preferably one
    that can be integrated into a 3D model or analysis application currently
    being developed by the City.”

    Again, the following link is the RFQ site. may be helpful for everyone to take a look at it:

    A large number of posters on this site are suffering from brain damage and find them selves living in the Civil War.
    The vast majority of True Ashevillians do not still hold allegiance to General Lee, nor are we afraid to venture above the Mason Dixon Line (Wherever that is)

    I do not agree with your perspective, but thanks for trying to keep this thread on the debate.

  58. Aliasjoe

    I just pasted what the plan and contract is all about. Its not my perspective, its what the story is and what the work will be.

  59. Viet Nam

    I am sorry that I don’t fit your definition of true ashevillian even though most of my family (several generations) live within 50 Miles of Asheville.

    Maybe yankees are rude & obnoxious to you because you are rude & obnoxious to them.

    I still believe that teaming local with national is the best approach. While I was in college my parents were able to move back to Asheville. After I graduated I worked for 3 years for a firm in Atlanta that had a very similar portfolio to Goody Clancy. During that 3 years I was involved with several downtown master planning projects (Mainly small towns in Georgia,). On one of those we teamed with a local firm and it was by far the best implemented plan, and that was mainly because the local firm would not allow us to “cookie cutter” the design and also provided us with information that could not be obtained in “Site Visits”
    I think it is vital to have a local design firm provide a big part in the design. Disgruntled locals who don’t pay city taxes or vote in city elections, sit this out.

  60. Johnny

    JMAC, that reminds me of a saying up in Vermont. I had a friend who’s parents moved to the state sometime in the 70’s and my friend was born there.

    That still didn’t make her a local though, in the locals’ eyes, because they were fond of saying

    “Just ‘cuz the cat had her kittens in the oven doesn’t make ’em biscuits”

  61. “That still didn’t make her a local though, in the locals’ eyes, because they were fond of saying

    “Just ‘cuz the cat had her kittens in the oven doesn’t make ‘em biscuits” ”

    Or, on the flip side, there’s a great line that Ed Harris’ character says to Casey Affleck after Affleck mentions to him that Harris is not a native Bostonian…

    “I might not be around here, but I’ve been here longer than you have been alive.”

    Doesn’t work for the crotchety oldtimers that troll this board though.


  62. Aliasjoe

    I wonder how a Cherokee would feel about some of these positions?

  63. Johnny

    Exactly, Aliasjoe, but the archives of the Cherokee’s internet bitch-fest about the loving and smiling newcomers has been lost.

    Thankfully they got Jesus crammed down their throats and now can participate in our ‘culture’ in the most profitable way they know of — taking white man to the cleaners via those dumb casinos.

  64. Viet Nam Vet

    “Just ‘cuz the cat had her kittens in the oven doesn’t make ‘em biscuits”

    I like that one Johnny.

  65. Jerry Buttinski

    I fall in with those who do not want a Boston firm planning Asheville. Different culture up there.

  66. nam veteran

    Now they are getting Karl Marx rammed down their throats by yankee transplants. Which is worse? I’ll take good old Jesus any old day.

  67. Well, my Beantown friend said that she doesn’t trust a Boston planning firm either. We’ve been warned!


  68. nam veteran

    All right Marc! A converted beaner to be sure. Asheville has a way of softening the uglier yankee traits and making these transplants our own. No outsiders planning our dear town! Locals only.

  69. firelady

    Ah, wait a minute. This master planning process is about our city. It is our plan. This planning firm will be working for us. Everyone with an opinion (and a pulse) has a responsibility and the ability to participate in the planning process.

    That said, the civic dialogue cannot be so categorical or presumptive. No one person or entity is always anything. Discussions about differences of opinion can be instructive. However, personalization of politics is not helpful. Every person has a perspective to lend to the planning process. Let’s keep it civil.

    Another point- Asheville is a growing city. The development cycle is very quick here. There needs to be some consensus about the fact that change is truly the only constant. Do we want to be proactive, and plan for change- do we want to be in the driver’s seat? Or do we want to get into a contentious dynamic about “change vs no change.” What do we want our city to look like? In my experience with these types of planning processes, people have a tendency to have similar likes/dislikes in the physical planning of a location, regardless of geographical location of origin. This master planning process can be a generative civic dialogue if it is well-facilitated and citizens come together. Keep an open mind, and show up for the charettes. Be engaged and then talk about the pros and cons of the process after you’ve participated.

  70. Firelady, a good indicator of the futility of working with Boston firms is use of the word ‘charette’ — just how many of us mountain folk know what that means? Is it a French wine?

    Actually, I know that it means an intense period of design activity (but as a professional writer, I collect weird words), but if you want to get along with locals, just say something like ‘attend meetings with the designers’ and stop the Yankee arrogance.

    Do you guys see the PROBLEM here? We’re not even speaking the same LANGUAGE as those Northerners. Let’s do it ourselves like we should have in the first place.

  71. firelady

    And the world is heading for impending disaster, Ralph. Attend the meetings with the designers. I hope to see you there- I know the process will benefit from your historical perspective. Keep an open mind. Participate. Leave the piss and vinegar at home.

  72. firelady

    Ralph- my point is (I’ll keep it simple, no big words)- the design process is supposed to be a public process. The design team should (in theory, anyway) guide the community to develop the master plan. It isn’t supposed to be some sort of elitist, top-down process. Sure, they are supposed to have a certain level of expertise, however it is up to the community to develop the master plan. I don’t think it is fair to make a categorical assumption that anyone north of the Mason-Dixon line is intending to ruin Asheville. I hear what you are saying about local talent- and I agree with you from an economic standpoint. Keeping the money local is usually a wise idea. Until it is codified that contracts must go to local firms, we have to deal with the hand we’ve been dealt. Because it is inherently a local public process, we do not have to abdicate our responsibility to participate and to generate our city’s master plan.

  73. The Truth Is...

    Q: Why do another “master plan” when the 2002 plan has never been implemented?

  74. firelady

    I wonder what that plan was, and if it was codified. Anyone know? I’ll look into it. Thanks, Truth.

  75. nam veteran

    Thank you for not using the big northerner words firelady. You know we just aren’t as smart down South here. :)

    This is what the master plan should be. And I’m local:

    Slow, careful growth. Protect the historic look and character of downtown Asheville. NO older buildings may be knocked down unless they are hazardous and cannot be rehabilitated. ALL new buildings must blend in with the older buildings. NO new BB&T;-like buildings. Big box chain store cannot build in historic areas, like Staples on Merrimon, but must build in the out lying areas.

    Simple but effective. Now, where is my consulting fee?

  76. firelady

    nam vet: you’ve presented some sound guiding principles. However, a master plan must focus on specificity. What you and I may consider a cool older building, laden with authenticity and history, may be viewed another way by a developer/architect etc. It is very difficult to codify and enforce categorical statements. A good planning process and facilitator will translate types of statements like yours into a codifiable (is that a word, Ralph?) and actionable plan.

    Where is hauntedhead NC? I’ve been waiting for his/her response.

    Nam and Ralph- you both are really working the “aw shucks, we’re just good ol’ boys” routine, aren’t you. You can’t fool me. ;.)

  77. no, firelady, we really are good ole boys… and that’s what the outsiders don’t understand, it’s NOT a bad thing, you just haven’t bothered to learn what it is yet.

    forget the stereotypes and find out what we’re really about.

    hint: Boston has NOTHING to do with it. ;-)

  78. firelady

    Ralph, I’ve yet to ascertain how a discussion about city planning processes can become so personalized so quickly. I was teasing you, Ralph. Lighten up. The insider/outsider dynamic is the only deliberate stereotyping going on here.

  79. no problemo, firelady … I is cool… but, there is a very strong dynamic with natives and outsiders that is often glossed over, especially by the outsiders. … and it’s their loss more than ours.

  80. firelady

    I understand what you are saying. I’m sure it is very difficult to have such drastic changes occur to your community. I agree that newcomers can benefit from the perspective of natives.

    That said, I’m not certain a contentious, vitriolic diatribe against anything/anyone originating outside of the geographic area is the best face to put on the “native” culture. Being a squelcher- someone who is against everything- is a surefire way to alienate and divide a community. If you are attempting to advocate for retaining the historic cultural perspective of the region, your tone is not conducive towards engaging newcomers. Such a shame. I like and appreciate the historical perspective- but if all you have to offer is name-calling and antipathy, I’ll read a good book instead.

  81. Just as other’s here have stated nativism is a sense of pride but it doesn’t give you the right to judge and dismiss all those who are not native as inferiors. We are all people with the capability (hopefully) to discuss ideas and learn from each other.

    The world is in a period of exponential change, and Asheville is a city in America that is only going to continue to grow. While developers and transients once frustrated me, I now see this growth as a potential for some very good things.

    I know I have a skewed perspective due of the documentary I am working on, but Asheville is a place that not only caters to half-backs and carpet-baggers; Asheville is a place that people come to because the WANT to be here. Many people feel a calling to come to Asheville. Scores of people have expressed to me that when they first arrived here they felt as if they had come home for the first time. It is an honor for our city to have such an appeal.

    I agree with Ralph in that it is great if you want to move to Asheville to set up a home and take part in the established community. I am not anti development, but I am very much against those who are opportunists looking for a quick buck by capitalizing on tearing down beautiful farm & wood-lands and building cheaply made yet still unfordable housing.

    Asheville only started to become a ‘hip’ place for tourists when artists and progressives revived the downtown. Do any of you remember how terrible downtown was in the 80’s and 90’s?

    Now many of these young people, the future leaders and developers, have to relocate to other cities with more opportunities. Despite not wanting to leave, Asheville provides little industry save medical work or poorly paid service jobs. If these young people want to buy a home and start a family they have to move out to Canton or beyond before anything is in their price range.

    Despite all of this, Asheville has an amazing opportunity ahead of it. We are going to change and standing with your feet stuck in the mud just isn’t an option. Instead welcome the change but let’s be smart with this opportunity. Let’s create a vision – the future is here and this is our chance to build tomorrow.

    Many people have equated Asheville with that of the towns in southern Oregon. There are cities that have already experienced what we currently encounter as ‘growing pains.’ These areas have created well thought forward thinking sustainable growth cities. We have the ability to learn from them in their triumphs of development, as well as their costly mistakes.

    Just because this firm is from Boston does not mean they are going to turn us into a bunch of Yankees. The thought is preposterous and shouldn’t even be considered. Even newcomers find our rich cultural heritage wins them over in the end. Do you know how many yank’s I’ve seen turn into grit-lovin’ blue-grass-stompin’ might as well be locals? We are now encountering a global world and this ‘us’ vs ‘them’ rhetoric won’t fly much longer.

    It is my sincere hope that this company will reach other to our established community and that our community will REACH back!
    We have to change.
    We get a say – !
    But we only get a chance if we make a choice!

    Go to the meetings, talk with them, talk to others in the community about ideas and take the comments back to the developers.

    If they start to really screw up downtown, there are enough activist types here who love Asheville enough that we could organize something that would really knock their socks off if necessary. Though I hope it wouldn’t come to that.

  82. If you look at this program:
    You will see that before this century is over should global warming be as serious as most analysts predict both Miami and Manhattan will be flooded or submerged. Where do you think many of these people are going to migrate?
    The oldest and safest mountain range in the world looks probable based on human migration patterns.

    – – – – – – – –

    In the meantime –
    Why isn’t *ANYBODY* speaking up for Downtown Books and News?! Are we REALLY going to let a Marriott Hotel COMPLETELY destroy the entire essence and charm of Lexington Ave???
    You realize once there is a giant awful hotel taking over that block it will be only weeks until Honeypot, Flipside, and Rosetta’s are next to close???
    I really can’t believe how much Asheville citizen’s can complain and yet I see NO ONE making efforts to prevent, what I consider, an atrocity to downtown development.
    I can only do so much…. I have my documentary which I only hope will help give this community some unifying vision.
    I am praying others will heed the call to take up arms to save Lexington Ave.

  83. firelady

    JBo- I admire your eloquence and passion. I agree with you completely on all of your points. I moved here because I recognized the community commitment, the generative nature of the region. I, too, hope that there can be some way to create a shared understanding and vision for the future. We have so many people who truly care about the region. Now how can we create a means to continue the dialogue? I can’t wait to see your documentary.

  84. Wilrycar

    I grew up, and went to high school, in Montana. I joined the Marines to see the world, and chose to settle down here. I have been living in WNC for 18 years, my entire adult life. I hold a BS from WCU. Am I local enough yet?

    Ever think about how those old buildings from the 1920’s and 30’s were “modern and trendy” when they were first built? Why can’t the new development be 2010 modern? Just because something is old does not make it better or better designed. In Asheville’s case, much of the old structures in the downtown area were not demolished and replaced because from the 60’s to the 90’s there was no money for new building.

    The firm is based in Boston. Great! Talented people from small towns move to big cities where the high-paying jobs are found. Yes there are some talented people here. In the real world, the people with the most talent move to the big cities where there are the highest salaries.

    The best and the brightest don’t live here, they vacation here and retire here. Disagree all you want. It is a fact.

    So, to make a commission for future development, a firm from Boston to work with locals seems to be a good balance.

  85. i agree with you Wilry. some of the 60’s modern put a lot people off b/c of its starkness and that style was a contrast to the over decoration and ornament of the styles before it. in many designs, it was the wrong reaction, but it was a reaction nonetheless, and one we should learn from and move forward. there were a lot of good ideas coming out of that era as well. it would be a shame to continue copying the same old buildings over + over again. there’s not creative thinking in that. the best buildings/design/planning were done with radical minds. you have to be careful, which a lot modernists did not do. they were going for contrast and not a balanced architecture. i think that puts a lot of people off. and frankly, it scares most people.

    but when i hear words like “blend in” though, i raise big questions. cos architecture/design/planning that blends usually leads to dull responses. i mean, a frickin walmart wants to blend stylistically. the only reason they don’t is b/c they take up entire small city in their scale.

    i’d like to think we can move forward with well balanced design and planning that pulls from many styles and movements…not just the art deco/craftsman style asheville is known for. there’s much more out there and i think asheville can do better.

  86. firelady

    Really great points, Wilry and Revolu. I think buildings are only part of the planning process- there are also public spaces, street widths, parking, parks and greenspace planning, sidewalks, trees etc. etc. I’d like to see some streets be pedestrian only- just to provide more opportunities for people to interact with each other. I’ll be very interested to see how this process works here.

  87. Wilrycar, I disagree intensely with part of your post, i.e. “…The best and the brightest don’t live here, they vacation here and retire here. …”

    From what I’ve seen the majority of you outlanders are just like us locals, pretty much clueless on most subjects — no difference, just a typical mix of humanity.

    And as to the best and brightest, I know lots of truly intelligent and accomplished locals — some have even written a few books like I have.

    Just because there are more locals than flatlanders, it stands to reason we have, numerically, the greatest number of smart people. After all, we figured out this was the best place to live generations before most folks.

    other than that, Semper Fi and thanks for your service.

  88. hauntedheadnc

    “Where is hauntedhead NC? I’ve been waiting for his/her response.”

    Wow… I didn’t even notice this response.

    My take on this is that I honestly could not care less, not without the help of prescription narcotics at any rate, where the firm is located so long as they give us a good plan.

    That plan will need to allow strong, dense, urban growth, dictate that new buildings not be hideous (and this might be a stretch because local developers have proven they are incapable of building something that is both modern and attractive), require adequate green space, and legislate affordability into growth because God knows the free market surely will not.

    That’s what I care about. The firm could be from Kathmandu so long as it gives us a plan that won’t turn us into North Buckhead, or East Aspen.

  89. Billy P Patton

    No carpetbaggers planning Asheville. Simple. Leave it as it is and say no to the money grubbing yankee developers.

  90. firelady

    Thank you for input, Billy P. We will take your suggestions under advisement.

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