Tonight: the story of Asheville’s downtown revitalization

It’s hard to believe these days, but just 20 short years ago downtown Asheville was a boarded-up ghost town. It was due to the efforts of a few visionaries — including the late philanthropist Julian Price — that we are the city that we are today. And tonight, you can learn the remarkable story of how it all happened.

The Downtown Asheville Residential Neighbors (DARN) and The Asheville Citizen-Times will present “The Asheville Miracle: The Revitalization of Downtown” at 7pm at the Diana Wortham Theatre. The event is free and open to the public.

Presenters will include:

Pat Whalen, president of Public Interest Projects, Inc., an award-winning development company founded by Price. PIP’s projects have included many established retail and restaurant outlets downtown (Laughing Seed, Zambra, Mobilia and The Orange Peel are just a few) as well as residential projects in downtown.

Leslie Anderson served as Asheville’s Director of Downtown Development for nine years during which time she enabled over $63 million in private investment in the business district, initiated and coordinated $16 million in streetscape, landscape and public works projects, created the Asheville Downtown Association and initiated and administered two major Asheville events including Bele Chere.

Karen Tessier, former Executive Director of Asheville-Buncombe Discovery, she has been intricately involved in the public/private planning, investment and revitalization of downtown Asheville. Tessier has participated in numerous National Main Street, State Downtown Development, economic development, and urban design/public visioning conferences and has served as a consultant to cities and organizations in the Southeast.

Also as part of the evening, local writer and photographer Laura Hope Gill and Michael Oppenheimer will preview their book “Look Up Asheville,” a collection of stunning architectural photography and anecdotal stories about the historic buildings of Asheville.


A picture of the building that now houses the Grove Arcade, looking south down Page Avenue. The corner in the foreground now houses Santé Wine Bar.


A picture of the building that now houses Malaprop’s on Haywood Street.


A picture from 1986 of the future home of what is now Pack Place.

Photos courtesy of Karen Tessier.

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3 thoughts on “Tonight: the story of Asheville’s downtown revitalization

  1. Marq McIntosh

    Sure seems like there are a lot of hens in the hen house! Its going to be interesting to see how our money pans out, thank GOD we don’t rely on a few hens to survive.

  2. Ken

    Let’s hope that the Grove Arcade does not end up looking like the above photo again…seeing that they cannot pay their bills.

  3. Marq McIntosh

    Or look like the “NO” Blooming flower beds down town, that our Highly educated, “NOT” politicians blew our money on. First you must know your facts about planing for our future. I plan on living here, not moving up the ladder and then down the road.

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