The first step toward breaking ground on affordable housing in Asheville often isn’t a shovel in the ground — it’s money in the hand. And after a unanimous vote by Asheville City Council Feb. 22, Haywood Street Community Development is more than $2.2 million closer toward making a 45-unit affordable development in the West End Clingman Avenue Neighborhood a reality.
The project, which has been in the works for more than five years, received a $1.3 million grant from the city’s 2016 affordable housing bond proceeds, as well as a $904,000 low-interest loan from the Housing Trust Fund. Council also unanimously approved a conditional zoning that allowed the development to be built.
“I’m just thrilled and tearful,” the Rev. Brian Combs told Xpress after the vote. “Not because of all the hard work, but because of the folks who are going to be so impacted by this.”
The project, at 343 and 357 W. Haywood St., will consist of affordable one-, two- and three-bedroom units available for residents of mixed income levels. Of the 45 units, 23 will be affordable for those making 30% of the area median income ($15,800 for a single person or $26,500 for a family of four), nine for those making 60% AMI ($31,575 or $45,300) and 13 for those making 80% AMI ($42,100 or $60,100). The design also includes 5,550 square feet of community space.
“What’s not typical that we see in development applications is that not only are all 45 units affordable, but they’re permanently affordable,” said Shannon Tuch, the city’s principal planner, while presenting the project. “We do not see that very often.”
The nonprofit Haywood Street Community Development was formed in 2020 by Haywood Street Congregation, a United Methodist Church mission, after the congregation determined it wanted to pursue the development of permanently affordable housing near its 297 Haywood St. church. The nonprofit spent the next several years trying to acquire land adjacent or close to the church in every direction, including a 2019 offer to purchase 339 W. Haywood St. that was not accepted.
The city then agreed to sell HSCD city-owned property on Asheland Avenue for a similar project in 2020. However, the nonprofit abandoned that plan after Black activists objected to the sale of the land, which the city had acquired as part of the East Riverside urban renewal program, to a white-led organization.
HSCD made an offer on the current site that was accepted in July and has since worked to secure funding from the city, Buncombe County and Dogwood Health Trust. Asheville had already granted $296,000 to the project through previous agreements, while Buncombe County approved $749,000 Feb. 1. The project’s total cost is estimated at over $10 million.
No members of the public spoke on the issue during the meeting. But Council members offered their support for the project.
“I know it has been a long road and I appreciate your tenacity,” added Council member Sage Turner.
Hilliard Avenue development turned down
At the same meeting, Council also voted 5-2 against a conditional rezoning of properties at 363 Hilliard Ave., which would have allowed the construction of two residential buildings containing 187 new residential units, 7,850 square feet of commercial space and 204 off-street parking spaces. Council members Sandra Kilgore and Antanette Mosley voted in favor of the rezoning.
According to a presentation led by city planner Will Palmquist, nine of the development’s units would have been offered at 80% AMI for 20 years, five of which would have accepted housing choice vouchers. None of the members of Council who voted against the conditional zoning shared their rationales during the meeting, and none responded to Xpress requests for comment before press time.