Deaverview Apartments in West Asheville is soon to get an overhaul, thanks in part to a $1.6 million purchase of adjacent land. The move was approved unanimously by Asheville City Council at its April 13 meeting.
The money to purchase the 21-acre property at 65 Ford St. comes from the December sale of city-owned land to yeast manufacturer and brewpub White Labs. Because a portion of the property in question was acquired through urban renewal, $1.6 million of the proceeds were earmarked as Community Development Block Grant funding in accordance with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rules.
The cash infusion means that Asheville’s CDBG funds currently total around $3.6 million, Community Development Director Paul D’Angelo told Council. But HUD requires that all but $1.5 million of that balance be spent by Saturday, May 1, to avoid future sanctions, he explained. The Ford Street purchase, which had been approved by Council in February 2020 using Affordable Housing Bond land-banking dollars, was one of the only ways the city could spend the money fast enough to meet the looming deadline.
Eventually, the city plans to use the land to revamp Deaverview into a “purpose-built community,” which, according to the Atlanta-based nonprofit steering the national model, would help local leaders create “greater racial equity, economic mobility and improved health outcomes for families and children.” The organization has already helped redesign communities in Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh.
At a Jan. 26 affordable housing work session, city staff shared a vision for an expanded Deaverview complex, which would include 300 units of housing, as well as an on-site affordable child care center, a school and a community center. There would also be options for homeownership, D’Angelo said.
Some members expressed frustration about the tight timeline. Vice Mayor Sheneika Smith said she voted yes “in order to meet the timeliness test and because there are limited options.”
Member Kim Roney said she sees dual obligations — one to invest in Deaverview and the other to address the harms of urban renewal and redlining with impacted communities. She supported the purchase but asked if the Asheville Buncombe Community Land Trust could be at the table for future conversations about the redevelopment.
“We can’t continue harm and displacement by pushing people to the outskirts or outside the city where they don’t have access to city infrastructure or the city school system,” Roney said. “I hear the complex situation that we’re in here, but this conversation, I don’t think it’s over yet.”