What’s your sign?: Staples’ new proposal

At a press conference today, Staples executives presented what they called a “compromise” solution between the city of Asheville and the office-supply company regarding its Merrimon Avenue store.

The illustration at right, submitted by Staples, shows the new sign dimensions and other proposed changes to the building.

The new proposal would will reduce the size of both the the letters and red borders on the west and south sides of the building. Though smaller than the previous signs, the reduced size would still be larger than that allowed under the Unified Development Ordinance and will require a variance by the Board of Adjustment. Signs on Orange Street will remain unaffected.

As Staples had emphasized in the past, company executives Ted Frumkin, regional vice president of real estate, and Andrew Thorpe, vice president of retail design, both stressed that the previous signage had been approved by city staff when it was still in the planning stage.

“What we tried to do is find a compromise,” Thorpe said in response to community questions. “Staples is not required to do anything.”

But both Bellamy and the Staples executives seemed pleased by the prospect of the smaller signs, rock work on the building’s corners and a scrim of green vines around the building’s lower half.

The new design will appear before the Board of Adjustment sometime in February.

Look for more on this story in the Feb. 6 edition of Xpress.

Brian Postelle, staff writer



Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

30 thoughts on “What’s your sign?: Staples’ new proposal

  1. My comment, having been compared to a sign myself when I used to dance joyously nearly everyday just up the street from STAPLES at my old gig, PICNICS, okay so I was in a chicken suit (that’s how Brad Pitt got his break, why not me?) but anyway: I honestly do not think STAPLES should have any prerogative whatsoever to modify its actual signage since it was not a problem with the local government until after the fact. I don’t think it’s that big of a nuisance or ugly mark, and I’ve lived on Merrimon for about 6 years now. I’m thankful STAPLES put that store right where it is: Tony in the copy center has helped me create a myriad of beautiful flyers for my music gigs, a service I used to have to drive all the way to Biltmore Kinko’s to utilize.

    I mean, I’m sure this is good politics for them. But I really don’t like the idea of the elected officials of this city sitting around worrying about signs of people trying to earn a living in this increasingly attractive, increasingly unaffordable town. If you loved the Chicken on Merrimon, then how can you object to their sign? If I was 7 feet tall instead of 5’11”, then that “sign”, ME that is would also have been bigger!

  2. Accountability?

    I think we need tougher regulations or tougher politicians.

    “Who” negotiated “What”, “I don’t knows” on third.

    Where is the progressive council of enforcement of the unified development ordinance?

    Downtown brought to you by Staples!

  3. It’s just an office supply store, people, get over it. I think the proposed changes make it uglier/weirder than it already is. Why not just leave what’s done, done.

  4. The City of Asheville has once again avoided being the subject of litigation. Scott Shuford lost his job but still works for the city. Three years from now we will have ivy.

  5. zen

    Though smaller than the previous signs, the reduced size would still be larger than that allowed under the Unified Development Ordinance and will require a variance by the Board of Adjustment.

    Nope. Staples lost the right for variance by not sticking to it’s agreement in the first place. Just because the sign is less obnoxious compared to what it used to be, that we should allow it to be just ‘sort of’ huge? If the whole building were the sign, would it be OK to now have the sign we’re objecting to by comparison?

  6. By the way, the reason Staples needs a variance from the Board of Adjustment is that even the slightly modified sign is still out of compliance with the UDO. This request should sail through BOA. This marks the end of the Staples controversy.

  7. hauntedheadnc

    Ivy, some decorative touches, and a smaller sign? Works for me. This is because we all know well that the only solution that would satisfy many is for the store to be torn down completely, which isn’t a realistic hope.

    Personally, I didn’t mind the sign. I look back at historic photographs of Asheville and see huge lighted billboards — with their lettering spelled out in light bulbs and neon — crowning many buildings such as the Public Service Building and the Asheville-Biltmore Hotel, along with huge advertising murals on the walls of many a building as well. I rather wish we could have those kinds of signs back. I like that kind of urban look and feel. I like that little touch of urban chaos.

  8. very right, hauntedheadnc … I miss that big old lighted Coca-Cola sign on Pack Square. The sign on the Public Service building was for Carolina Power & Light (CPL) who is now Progress Energy.

    and as for ivy on the side of the Staples building, it will look awful and be a home for bugs and small varments. ;-)

  9. travelah

    haunted, that’s the right direction in my view. Personally, I’d like to see an Office Depot on the other corner.

  10. There’s an enormous BB&T;on the tallest building in town. Where’s the uproar? There’s McDonald’s signs right on the state roads, telling you where to score a pretty darn good iced coffee (take that Starbucks!), and the people who gave us the wonderful resource of a STAPLES 4 blocks from me instead of sitting in traffic for like at least a 1/2 hour round trip, etc. to drive to Kinko’s have their store marked. And it is totally irrelevant and doesn’t affect the beauty of God’s grandeur I see when I drive right through town. In the end of all this, those that want a bucholic mountain retreat will have to accept that downtown is not the same thing as “up in the mountains”. That’s not city council or STAPLES fault in my view….it’s just reality….a lot more people would like to live here, and like it or not, they’re here. That means business, and that means signs. Thank you city council for not fighting this with my tax dollars. I need that STAPLES to help me with my art.

  11. Rob Close

    but i’m sure city council will debate this for an hour, then all agree “whatever”.

  12. travelah

    … and of course, what Merrimon downtown needs is a big box drugstore! Walgreen’s would work great because that is where I get my blood pressure medicine and given the uproar over anything but a headshop, beer parlor or seed cuisine, I’d probaby need a refill.

  13. hauntedheadnc

    Travelah, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were mocking me when you agreed with me. I’m not gungho for chain retail and big box stores on every corner, but on the other hand, I don’t get the vapors when a city looks like — if you can imagine such a thing — a city. Buildings. Signs. Some dirt because in a real city, not everything is shiny and squeaky clean lest it offend Lil Miss Buckhead tootling through town in her rental car on her way from the Grove Park Inn to Biltmore House.

    I don’t like the way the Staples store currently looks, but it’s not enough, as it with some area residents, to keep me up nights gnawing the bedclothes as I seethe with rage. I think the proposed improvements will do a lot to make the building more palatable, although more and better things could have been done. On the other hand, the sign itself doesn’t bother me, nor would it upset me if the Battery Park Hotel, the Asheville-Biltmore Hotel, and the Carolina Power and Light signs went back up onto their respective buildings downtown for old time’s sake.

  14. it is really hilarious that people became upset over this in the first place… there are many more serious problems to worry about in Asheville.

    it’s JUST an office supply store, folks! get over it.

  15. Nam Vet

    NO UDO variances. Period. Why have the guidelines if they are overlooked in the name of over-development and the tax money it brings to the City coffers? Make them comly with the original UDO. At the least.

  16. It’s such an issue to so many, Ralph, because it is a microcosm of the overall political climate today: big business trying like hell to compete, a lititgious, somewhat bitter public, political correctness, the green movement, the propensity of liberal governments to overlegislate…… It’s an obvious rallying point for so many sets of diametrically opposed groups…….businesspeople vs. hippies……… you get my point.

  17. David Lewis

    OK, this city has it’s priorities in the wrong place. What is more important a) the size of the staples sign and the trucks from green life or b) jobs that pay a “living” wage, poverty, and the drug problem? I had to wait over 5 minutes for the deli working at ingles to tell some guy he was teaching his kid to fight so he could be somebody and that deaverview was like most of the city with drugs everywhere . Education, education, eduction. That is the answer to 99% of the problems in Asheville. For crying out loud, they can’t even finish a park or get traffic calming measures right (noticed the missing signs and cross walks). Maybe city council spent too much time in the head shops.

  18. Got elected

    A voters’ guide to Asheville’s Oct. 11 election: Iss. 1 on 10/05/2005

    5. City staff have documented several recent cases of developers violating the Unified Development Ordinance or conditions of their permits, but no fines have been issued. Should these rules be more strictly enforced?

    Mayor Charles Worley: “The UDO should always be enforced.”

    The “ironic” thing about Mayor Worley statement is he was “legal counsel for Greenlife” when “city staff” made all these decisions they didn’t have the legal authority to make???

    Holly Jones: “Absolutely. I have pushed for this on Council (ex. Campus Crest clear-cutting), but enforcement is still too slack. We need a majority of the members on Council to make enforcement of our ordinances and following through with the commitments we make to the community a priority.”

    Terry Bellamy: “We need to enforce conditions on developers who violate the UDO.”

    Robin Cape: “Absolutely.”

    Carl Mumpower: “City staff has been instructed, as a matter of clear policy, to persistently enforce our ordinances. Contrary to some information outlets, there is no dramatic pattern of developer violations in Asheville. When these occur, there should be consistent, significant and mandated consequences.”

  19. Nam Vet

    Ralph, without UDO Asheville would look like the route 64 exit at Hendersonville. A mishmash of ugly strip mall buildings. The older the uglier. Let’s keep Asheville looking pretty much as it has been all these years. One of the reasons Asheville is so beautiful is the City refused Urban Renewal funds in the 70s and DID NOT take down old buildings to put up new ones. Keep the character the same. Ralph, keep the scenery beautiful for your driving show on URTV! :)

  20. Accountability Ha!

    Who was Staples local attorney when these “decisions” were made? A former politician?

    Staples has built thousands of stores. In Boston they apparently follow the rules. No ugly billboards their.
    Violating the UDO “now that was easy.” So true!

    Mayor Charles Worley: “The UDO should always be enforced.”

    The “ironic” thing about Mayor Worley statement is he was “legal counsel for Greenlife” when “city staff” made all these decisions they didn’t have the legal authority to make.

  21. Nam Vet, bro, the scenery in my show features the REAL mountains, not Asheville. ;-)

    Cities are commercial hubs, Asheville is no exception. Expect growth. There’s just too much money on the table, thanks to all the folk from up North who have insisted on moving here. Fighting against development in Asheville is mighty like spitting in the wind. All you’ll get is a dry mouth and a wet face.

  22. Nam Vet

    Nope you are wrong Ralph. The great yankee influx is at a standstill, as is very much more development. In case you haven’t noticed, the housing market is broken. The boom of the last few years is OVER. If someone cannot sell their house in New Jersey, they cannot move here. Period. Of course a few of the wealthy can always come in, but the big influx of house-cash rich baby boomers is over. So it’s a new ballgame. Thankfully. So my Asheville will not be over-developed regardless of the greed of some in government here. Sometimes a recession is good. :)

  23. joe schmoe

    Ralph has no respect for the law. Just break whatever you don’t like right Ralph? Business is far more important than citizens.

  24. travelah

    Businesses are started by citizens and employ citizens. If you don’t like doing business with businesses, then stop.

  25. I don’t read Ralph’s comments as an a “break the laws” stance…… I think that he and I agree that the law itself is ridiculous. This is not an endorsement of anarchy, of “breaking whatever law you like” as you suggest, joe schmoe (by the way, why post under such a pseudonym? to protect you somehow?) I will not speak for Ralph……I can only speak for me: the Staples sign is not now, and will not be if they change it, or don’t, the kind of issue that I feel warrants political posturing by our elected officials. At the time of the STAPLES plan, whatever they submitted was approved and erected and only became an issue because a relative minority loudly protested its aesthetics. I wish they would fight tooth and nail to keep it just like it is, just to expose the corruption of the city planners/approvers if in fact that is true: if there was some kind of sketchy backroom stuff involving Worley or whomever, now that would bother me a hell of a lot more than a big red sign.

  26. Joe, I did not say to break the law, I said the law is wrong — two very different things. UDO should be thrown out and a simpler development ordinance — one more in keeping with 21st century realities — should be devised.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.