After months of planning and community engagement forums, Asheville City Council is set to vote on the renovation plans for Pack Square Plaza at its Tuesday, Sept. 26 meeting. After the 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, Pack Square became the center of the community’s fight for racial justice, culminating in the 2021 removal of the Vance Monument. The 75-foot obelisk honored Zebulon Vance, a Buncombe County native, Confederate colonel, North Carolina governor, slaveholder and white supremacist.
The 49-page draft plan is part of the city’s Pack Square Visioning Project. Durham-based civil engineering firm, McAdams Co., began work on the draft in July 2022 and has a $111,000 contract funded by both the city and county. The plan has 10 main areas of focus, including creating new spaces for civic engagement and expression, repositioning the elevated lawn and redesigning South Market Street as an active cultural corridor to The Block.
The most ambitious part of the plan involves possibly relocating the Asheville Police Department and Asheville Fire Department offices currently located inside the Municipal Building, 100 Court Plaza. According to the plan’s proposal, the space could then be “repurposed as a cultural museum to share a comprehensive, inclusive story of Asheville.” The fate of the Vance Monument still remains in limbo, pending a N.C. Supreme Court ruling.
In other news
The council will also have a public hearing regarding the zoning of a major mixed-use and mixed-income development. The development, “Project Aspire,” is set to include additional housing, a hotel, retail space, office buildings and a new YMCA building, according to plans submitted to the city.
The Furman Co., lead developer for the project, is requesting to have the area rezoned from Commercial Business District to Commercial Business Expansion District, which would allow for more flexibility related to the size and scope of buildings.
While the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the request Aug. 2, the developer was unable to get approval from Council at its Sept. 12 meeting over disagreements regarding building height, parking and future funding. Rather than deny the request, which would prevent the developer from reapproaching for six months, Council voted 6-0 to delay consideration until the Sept. 26 meeting.
Consent agenda and public comment
The consent agenda for the meeting contains 11 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 approve the donation of surplus used Asheville Police Department radios to the Woodfin Police Department. The 14 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 execute an approximate $2.8 million contract with Baker Grading and Landscaping Inc. for the Swannanoa River Greenway Project. If approved, the landscaping company will work to install approximately one mile of greenway along the Swannanoa River where no bicycle or pedestrian facilities currently exist.
- A ordinance amendment of Section 19-213 of the Code of Ordinances regarding the use and removal fee of wheel locks. If approved, the ordinance would update the wheel lock removal fee from $25 to $50, a rate that was previously approved by City Council.
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 2196.
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 2196; written comments can be sent to AshevilleCityCouncilSept262023@publicinput.com until 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 26. 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.