Land swap for ParkSide development?

Xpress has obtained an e-mail (see below) from J. Patrick Whalen, chair of the Asheville Downtown Commission, to commission members that includes a proposal that the city swap land with developer Stewart Coleman, to relocate his proposed ParkSide building. According to the e-mail, commission members feel that the city “should be encouraged to swap property with the developer to move this building back away from the park.”

Buncombe County sold park land to Coleman last fall and he intends to build an 11-story mixed-use building on the site. A lawsuit concerning the legitimacy of the sale is pending, and the Pack Square Conservancy is currently evaluating Coleman’s plans for compliance with its mandatory guidelines. 

The Conservancy will convene its first ParkSide design-review work session at noon on Monday, Oct. 22, in the fifth-floor conference room of the BB&T building. The public is invited to attend. 
 
— Cecil Bothwell, staff writer

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From: “J Patrick Whalen”
Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2007 3:57 PM
Subject: Resolution to City Council regarding Parkside and Pack Square

At the Design Review subcommittee meeting today concern was expressed echoing John Roger’s comment at our last full Commission meeting about the siting of the Parkside project. It seemed to be pretty unanimously felt by the Commission members present at the subcommittee that the City should be encouraged to swap property with the developer to move this building back away from the park.

To that end and because time is of the essence, I would like you each to respond to email signifying your approval or disapproval of the following resolution.

RESOLVED that the Downtown Commission advises and urges City Council to act expeditiously, through staff, to pursue a land swap with the developer of the Parkside condominium project planned for the current Hayes and Hopson site near City Hall. It is the Commission’s recommendation that given the potential unfortunate long-term effect on the aesthetics and usability of the Pack Square Park, it would be advisable to either close and convey a portion of Marjorie Street or air rights over Marjorie Street, if necessary, to avoid inappropriate construction on the Parkside site. In its role of advising Council the Commission would stand ready to pursue, at Council’s request, an appropriate set of restrictions incorporating mandatory design standards on any conveyed property to assure that any proposed project was fully complementary to City-County Plaza and to the Park./

If the majority of the Commission expresses approval by response to this email we will present this recommendation to City Council.
Pat

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About Cecil Bothwell
A writer for Mountain Xpress since three years before there WAS an MX--back in the days of GreenLine. Former managing editor of the paper, founding editor of the Warren Wilson College environmental journal, Heartstone, member of the national editorial board of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, publisher of Brave Ulysses Books, radio host of "Blows Against the Empire" on WPVM-LP 103.5 FM, co-author of the best selling guide Finding your way in Asheville. Lives with three cats, macs and cacti. His other car is a canoe. Paints, plays music and for the past five years has been researching and soon to publish a critical biography--Billy Graham: Prince of War:

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One thought on “Land swap for ParkSide development?

  1. Barry Summers

    I said it before, but I’ll point it out again. That illustration does not correspond with the plans Mr. Coleman has submitted to the City Planning Dept, the Conservancy, AND the Downtown Commission. Look at those plans, and then look at the site. The building as proposed sits a good 40-50 feet inside the park space, as the Conservancy’s outside expert confirmed in their review. This illustration shows this building nestling comfortably BEHIND the line along the side of City Hall, which is the park’s southern edge.

    In addition, is there anything missing from that illustration? How about the circular driveway in front of City Hall? It’s about 100 feet across, but it’s curiously absent from this rendering. The importance of this? I can’t prove this, obviously, but I suspect that this rendering was adapted from a true perspective, which would have made it clear that the building would sit squarely in FRONT of City Hall. The only way to quietly slip the building behind the line visually was to eliminate 100′ of space between the building and City Hall.

    Since this illustration was done long before the Conservancy expert torpedoed Mr. Coleman’s design as not complying with the Guidelines, I am leaning towards the notion that this may have been the plan all along. Propose something that doesn’t have a chance of being approved, then float a “compromise” of a “swap” of privately held land for the City-owned Marjorie Street property.

    Conspiracy theory, you say? Maybe, but that’s the way I would do it if I knew I was proposing something that would piss off much of the city: forever block any chance of a performing arts center or other public use of that space, all so some wealthy investors can have front-row seats at the park. Combine that with the cruddy way the County sold this developer this land in the first place, and I find it all pretty shabby. Is this how a world-class city designs it’s premier downtown space?

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