Council considers grant for Hilliard microhousing development

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As housing prices in Asheville continue to rise, one solution might help keep costs down: Go small. A proposed South Slope development taking that approach is now seeking extra help from Asheville City Council.

During their meeting of Tuesday, June 14, Council members will consider a land use incentive grant for an 80-unit microhousing development at 217 Hilliard Ave. Of those units, 16 apartments will be affordable for people earning at or below 80% of the area median income — defined by the city for studio or efficiency units as renting for no more than $1,053 per month with utilities included — for a minimum of 20 years. The project will also accept housing choice vouchers for eight of the affordable units. 

According to planning documents submitted with the city, the units will be no larger than 250 square feet. Each will contain a sink and an area for a microwave or other small appliances, with a full kitchen and lounge available for shared use by occupants of the 14-17 units on each floor.

Total construction costs for the project are estimated at $7.2 million; the land use incentive grant would rebate taxes on the increased value of the property to the developer, Asheville-based Mori Blue Holdings. According to a staff report, the grant would be paid in annual installments of $28,228 for 21 years, or $592,790 in total, after which point the city would receive approximately $29,016 annually in tax revenue. The estimated subsidy per affordable unit would thus be $37,049.

In other news

Council will also conduct a public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2022-23 annual operating budget. Xpress recently rounded up 10 noteworthy takeaways from the nearly $216.9 million budget; since publication of that piece, the city has updated the budget to include $108,000 in funding for an urban forester position and an extra $135,000 for the city’s reparations fund. 

Consent agenda and public comment

The consent agenda for the meeting contains 14 items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:


  • A resolution authorizing City Manager Debra Campbell to execute a $348,370 contract with Charlotte-based Creech & Associates for a comprehensive facilities study. The firm will examine the city’s more than 1.6 million square feet of facilities to guide updates to or demolitions of city buildings, as well as prioritize needs.


  • A resolution authorizing Campbell to enter into a contract of up to $140,860 with Raleigh-based SEPI Engineering & Construction for the Airport Road Sidewalk Design project. The project includes installation of sidewalk, pedestrian signal crossings, wheelchair ramps and bus pads along Airport Road from Hendersonville Road to the southernmost entrance to Walmart.


  • A resolution authorizing Campbell to enter into a $111,000 contract with the Durham-based McAdams Company for community engagement, planning and design for the Pack Square Visioning Project. Funding for the process will be split between the city and Buncombe County, with the former contributing $81,000 and the latter $30,000.


  • A resolution authorizing Cambell to enter into an $84,000 contract with Raleigh-based Blanchard, Miller, Lewis and Isley, P.A. for one year of lobbying services

Council’s regular meeting will take place at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville Banquet Hall, located at 87 Haywood St., starting at 5 p.m. The meeting will also be livestreamed through Asheville’s public engagement hub and on the city’s YouTube channel. Members of the public can also listen live by calling 855-925-2801, meeting code 2450.

Members of the public who wish to speak during the regular meeting must attend in person and sign up at the door. No live remote comment will be permitted.

Prerecorded voicemail messages can also be left at 855-925-2801, meeting code 2450; written comments can be sent to until 9 a.m. June 14. General comments for City Council can be sent at any time to

The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.


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10 thoughts on “Council considers grant for Hilliard microhousing development

  1. indy499

    I’m sure lots of folks are thrilled to be able to move back into a dorm room. Those things have been tried in big cities and are a total bust.

    Just a ploy to work around the hotel restrictions. When the project tanks, this thing will be a hotel.


    • Enlightened Enigma

      This developer has this type city micro housing projects all over the world … his company is brilliant and trendsetting.

      • indy499

        Such a brilliant and trendsetting company with projects all over the world would have a name and a website I would guess.

        The developer named in the story is a small local developer. Why don’t you share with us who you were talking about.

      • R.G.

        As brilliant as you’re ‘enlightened’? Looks like he’s planning to build mini-torture-chambers for about $1000 per square foot (rent on 250-sq-ft for 20 years equals about $250,000.) Talk about price-gouging and greedflation!

        • Enlightened Enigma

          but of course he takes no risk nor spends his own money, right ? …oh and I don’t support the city patronage on this either…

  2. Robert

    I’m all for smaller homes and think most people could live very well and very happily in less than 800 square feet, but 250 square feet? For a thousand bucks? Off with their heads!!

  3. CitizenBane

    1) It’s a CIVIC Center. Not a for rent advertisement billboard. When LLC’s provide funding, you stop working for citizens and start working for the corporation. Stop being afraid to tax the rich. Stop. Tax ’em. They won’t move to Canada or Russia. They’ll stay.
    2) F your tiny serf housing. They’ll be worthless in 10 years, housing for single partiers in their 20’s. SMH. Stupid idea. Why not just bring in storage units and split them into quads? Why not just donate used refrigerator cardboard and we can set up luxury “hipster houses” under the bridge near Earth Fare? Why not just bend some blackberry bushes over and call them “hipster huts?” JFC? Who runs this town?
    3) Reparations? RUKM? Reparations? That’s going to make us all forgiven and equal now, right? You know what’s a good reparation? Clean water, affordable housing, a job that isn’t tourist related with benefits, pensions, sidewalks, small classrooms, tuition assistance, etc. You can’t just throw money at a group of people and say, “sorry for what a dead person I never met did to your dead person that you never met. Here’s cash.” Like a mafia henchman who tears up a bar and then tosses a few bennies on the ground to cover it.

  4. NFB

    “an 80-unit microhousing development at 217 Hilliard Ave. Of those units, 16 apartments will be affordable for people earning at or below 80% of the area median income ”

    That’s 20%, which means 80% won’t be affordable.

    “defined by the city for studio or efficiency units as renting for no more than $1,053 per month”

    “This room cost $2,000 a month, believe it man, it’s true. Somewhere a landlord is laughing ’til he wets his pants.” — Lou Reed

  5. kw

    Gots to have poor folks housed close to town to serve buckets of overpriced swill to the guests, it’s as simple as that.

    Anyone who wants to live that sort of existence deserves it.

    Want more? Rise up and get out! Lots of wonderful places to live in this world.

  6. MV

    But what about when these hovel-dwelling workers come back in 20 years after giving/wasting years laboring to serve tourists and paying rent to corporate landlords (and still unable to afford to buy a home) and they say, We Want Reparations!
    A Plague On All Your Mini-Houses!

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