The First Baptist Church of Asheville and the Asheville YMCA are collaborating to build a major mixed-use and mixed-income development with affordable housing, a hotel, retail space, office buildings and a new YMCA building, according to plans submitted to the city. Approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission on Aug. 2, the Greenville-based developer The Furman Co. is now seeking final approval from City Council at its Aug. 22 meeting.
The two organizations imagine the proposed development, “Project Aspire,” to be a “walkable, dense development that will serve as a gateway to downtown Asheville,” according to a Feb. 13 press release. The project site spans three properties totaling 10.5 acres, and includes the current downtown YMCA building, the First Baptist Church and the State Employees Credit Union building, which are located next to I-240 on Woodfin and Oak streets.
Five new buildings are proposed — requiring the demolition of current YMCA and SECU buildings; the historic church would remain standing. If approved, construction of the development will take place in two phases over 10 years. In phase one, two buildings would be erected, including a new, six-story YMCA and a 20-story hotel with up to 300 guestrooms. The current downtown YMCA would remain open until its replacement was complete. In phase two, three buildings would be developed: an office space and two residential sites with up to 650 total units
Also included in the project is a seven-level parking garage with approximately 800 spaces and an eight-level parking garage with approximately 900 spaces, as well as new interior roadways, sidewalks, surface parking and on-street parking — ultimately boasting a total of 1,600-2,000 parking spaces.
If the zoning ordinance is approved by Asheville City Council, groundbreaking will likely begin at the end of 2024 or the start of 2025.
In other news
Council will vote on an amendment to the city’s current noise ordinance policies in an effort to “remove any possible ambiguities.”
This comes after abortion protester Zachary Hebb sued the city in 2022, alleging that the city’s noise ordinance policy, which currently prohibits “amplified sound” within 150 feet of a public school or a medical clinic, violated his First Amendment right to protest outside of Planned Parenthood’s Asheville Health Center. Hebb has been cited at least two times for violating the city’s noise ordinance while he was protesting and vocally promoting his religious convictions regarding abortion services provided by the center.
The proposed amendment to the ordinance provides more clarification, noting that “amplified sound” means a sound augmented by any electronic or other means that increases its volume, and that “medical clinic” refers to any location where one or more health care facilities provide a service, without regard to what the service is or whether or not it is an inpatient or outpatient facility.
Consent agenda and public comment
The consent agenda for the meeting contains 18 items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:
- A resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a mutual aid agreement with the N.C. Department of Public Safety. If approved, the city is agreeing to share some types of emergency response equipment and resources with other state municipalities in the case of a major disaster.
- A resolution authorizing the City Manager to approve the donation of surplus used Asheville Police Department radios to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. The 18 radios were previously removed from decommissioned police cars, and are no longer compatible with the APD’s radio management system.
- A resolution authorizing the City Manager to apply for and accept grant funds from the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program for the 2024 BikeSafe Grant. If received, the grant funds will be used to promote awareness by contacting motorcycle dealers, clubs and associations to discuss current highway safety activities and host training opportunities.
Council members will gather in their chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 70 Court Plaza, starting at 5 p.m. The meeting will also be carried live on Charter/Spectrum Channel 193 and livestreamed through Asheville’s public engagement hub and on the city’s YouTube channel. Members of the public can listen live by calling 855-925-2801, meeting code 6806.
Those who wish to speak during the 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 2754; written comments can be sent to AshevilleCityCouncilAug222023@publicinput.com until 9 a.m. Aug. 22. General comments for City Council can be sent at any time to AshevilleNCCouncil@AshevilleNC.gov.
The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.