Development roundup: City to present updates on preservation of African American communities

J.A. WIlson Building
LIVING HISTORY: Built in 1924, the J.A. Wilson building on Eagle Street is a rare example of a surviving building from the African American commercial district known as The Block. The African American Heritage Resource Survey report recommends that the city work to place this building on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo courtesy of the city of Asheville

City of Asheville

The public will be able to provide input on two conditional zoning matters, as well as a presentation regarding architectural preservation efforts in historically Black neighborhoods, at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7. The meeting will take place in person at City Hall’s first-floor North Conference Room at 70 Court Plaza.

A pre-meeting of the same body to review the agenda, which is open to the public but does not allow public comment, will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the fifth-floor Large Conference Room.

The Design Review Committee‘s regularly scheduled meeting for Thursday, Dec. 15, has been canceled. Its next meeting will take place Thursday, Jan. 19.

Planning and Zoning Commission

Residents can submit comments over email and voicemail until 24 hours prior to the meeting or provide in-person comment during the meeting itself. Instructions on how to attend and comment, as well as the full meeting agenda, are available at


Alex Cole of the city’s Planning and Urban Design Department will present updates on the African American Heritage Resource Survey and Burton Street Architectural Survey.

The first survey marks the start of Asheville’s efforts to fully document its African American historic resources. In 2018, PUD identified over 600 buildings and locations that the city believed would benefit from an architectural survey to assess their historic value and preservation needs. After receiving a $12,000 federal historic preservation grant that same year, the city budgeted $25,200 to compile a historic overview of the city’s African American community and conduct architectural surveys of nine neighborhoods, including East/End Valley Street, Hill Street and Magnolia Park.

Although a draft report was completed by Ohio-based consulting firm Owen & Eastlake in 2019, according to a city presentation, “PUD staff determined that substantial revisions to the survey report were needed prior to publication.” The city subsequently contracted with Asheville’s Acme Preservation Services to complete the work.

The final report recommends that three sites — the J.A. Wilson building on Eagle Street, Rabbit’s Motel on McDowell Street and the Walton Street Pool — be placed on the National Register Study List, a preliminary step toward potential inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. It also identifies at least 75 buildings for inclusion on the city’s list of historic architectural resources and recommends more in-depth surveys for the East End/Valley Street, Southside, Shiloh and Burton Street/Emma and Violet Hill neighborhoods.

The full 170-page report can be accessed at, and the presentation slides can be found at

The Burton Street Architectural Survey is an offshoot of the Burton Street Neighborhood Plan developed in 2018 by the N.C. Department of Transportation, in partnership with the city and the Burton Street Community Association, to mitigate the impact of the Interstate 26 Connector project on the community.

In 2021, Charlotte-based engineering consultant firm S&ME worked with the community association and the city to complete a 101-page report identifying architectural characteristics that currently define the neighborhood’s character. The next step, according to a city presentation, will be to create a pattern book so that any future construction will be in keeping with that character.

The full report can be accessed at, with the presentation slides available at

Zoning Map Amendments

Enka Commerce Park (264 Enka Heritage Parkway, 28715)

Enka Partners of Asheville LLC seeks an amendment to a conditional zoning ordinance for 45.5 acres in Enka after revising its previously submitted site plans. Xpress previously covered this project in its August development roundup (​​, but the item was continued from the Aug. 3 meeting.

The new plans call for three buildings with a combined total of 585,360 square feet, as well as 463 parking spaces and truck loading docks. At least 15% of the site will be protected open space because the Enka Heritage Greenway crosses the property.

This project is tentatively scheduled to come before Asheville City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 13. Project documents can be accessed at

157 New Leicester Highway (157 New Leicester Highway, 28806)

The Cohen-Esrey Development Group of Merriam, Kansas, seeks a conditional rezoning of 4.92 acres along New Leicester Highway from Residential Multifamily and Highway Business to Residential Expansion – Conditional Zoning to construct a 141-unit senior living development in a 161,100-square-foot building. The application does not provide any information about the affordability of these units.

Project documents can be accessed at

Buncombe County

No Board of Adjustment meeting will take place in December. Instead, the next meeting will take place at noon Wednesday, Jan. 11. The in-person meeting will be held at the Board of Commissioners Chambers, 200 College St.

Information on how to attend and apply for comment can be found at No email or voicemail comments will be accepted.

The following projects were both unanimously approved by board members at their Nov. 9 meeting:

Trilogy Investment Co. of Alpharetta, Georgia, requested a special use permit to build a Level 1 Planned Unit Development on 8 acres. The development will consist of 84 single-family townhouse-style units for rent. The site plan also includes a clubhouse, swimming pool, dog park, walking trails and playground.

The density will be 10.5 units per acre, 1.5 less than the maximum allowed density of 12 units per acre in the R-3 zoning district. A traffic study found that the traffic increase related to the new development would be minimal and did not recommend any changes.

Detailed project documents can be accessed at

Fletcher-based Pleasant Grove of WNC LLC requested a special use permit to build a Level 1 Planned Unit Development on 6.73 acres. The development will consist of 40 townhouse-style units across 10 buildings. A playground and other open space areas are also planned.

The density will be 6.0 units per acre, half of the maximum allowed density of 12 units per acre in the R-3 zoning district. Each unit will have a two-car garage.

Detailed project documents can be accessed at


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About Sara Murphy
Sara Murphy lives in Leicester. Her work has appeared in 100 Days in Appalachia, Facing South, Polygon, and Lifehacker.

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