News Briefs: New police chief, updated Flatiron proposal

BAILEY RESIGNS: Police Chief Chris Bailey will resign his post after serving less than two months. Photo courtesy of the City of Asheville

Updated Flatiron proposal to return to City Council

Developer Philip Woollcott and building owner Russell Thomas will make another appearance in front of Asheville City Council members on Tuesday, June 25, to gain approval for an updated version of the Flatiron Building project. The original plan would have converted the building into an 80-room boutique hotel with a rooftop bar, street-level restaurant, and basement speakeasy. The revised plan would still convert the building to primarily hotel use with 71 rooms but would maintain street-level retail and keep the second floor as office space.

Chris Bailey named as Asheville’s next police chief

After community input sessions, surveys and a nationwide search, City Manager Debra Campbell tapped Chris Bailey to head the Asheville Police Department starting July 29. The new chief will be relocating from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, where he most recently served as deputy chief of the Criminal Investigations Division.

Outdoor gear companies to hold French Broad River cleanup event

Outdoor apparel brand United By Blue is partnering with Diamond Brand, Frugal Backpacker and Asheville GreenWorks to host the French Broad River Cleanup on Saturday, June 22, from 9 a.m.-noon. Participants will meet at Salvage Station and spend the morning removing litter and debris from the riverbanks, and prizes will be awarded in a variety of categories. A party at Salvage Station will follow the event.

Asheville City Schools superintendent resigns

Superintendent Denise Patterson submitted her letter of resignation on June 12, citing medical reasons. She will receive two months of severance pay and take sick leave through Friday, Nov. 15. Effective immediately, the duties of the superintendent will be covered by Assistant Superintendent of Administration Mark Dickerson and Assistant Superintendent of Learning Services Terrence McAllister. The Asheville City Board of Education plans to vote on a contract for Bobbie Short to serve as interim superintendent beginning in July.

UNC Asheville Professor receives Fulbright Award to teach and research in Ghana

Agya Boakye-Boaten, chair and associate professor of Africana and interdisciplinary and international studies at UNC Asheville, received a 2019-20 Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant to teach and conduct research over 10 months in Ghana at the University of Cape Coast. Boakye-Boaten plans to focus on “teaching about Africa in a way that shifts the narrative away from Eurocentric epistemologies,” according to a UNCA press release, and research how culture and traditional practices intersect with child labor and trafficking in Ghana.

Leadership Asheville’s Buzz Breakfast Series Begins June 20

Leadership Asheville, a program of UNC Asheville, will host the three “Buzz Breakfast” events in June, July and August at the Crowne Plaza Resort Asheville. Each session will feature panel discussions with a broad array of community leaders. The series kicks off on Thursday, June 20, with discussions from Kimberlee Archie, Rev. Amy Cantrell, Keynon Lake, Stephanie Monson Dahl and Darin Waters. The events are open to the public; tickets are $25 for an individual event and $60 for the series.

Buncombe County names two new assistant managers

On June 14, Buncombe County Manager Avril Pinder announced the selection of two assistant managers to round out her team. Sybil Tate, currently the assistant county manager of Person County, takes the position on Wednesday, July 10, while Dakisha Wesley, now the assistant county administrator of Lake County in Illinois, will join Buncombe’s staff on Monday, July 29.

New mural coming to Wall Street stairwell downtown

The Asheville Downtown Association Foundation is funding and managing the installation and maintenance of a mural that will be placed on the public stairwell connecting Battery Park and Wall Street. The project pilots a new city program that allows private investments in creative projects on public Asheville property. Muralist Ian Wilkinson was selected to complete the artwork, which will depict Catawba Falls.

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8 thoughts on “News Briefs: New police chief, updated Flatiron proposal

  1. Bradd

    Hi Brooke,
    Could you please clarify the date of the updated Flat Iron Building proposal before Asheville City Council? Your
    post here says Tuesday July 12….but the 12th of July falls on a Friday. Could it be either the 9th or 16th of July (both Tuesdays) ?
    I have a feeling that the new proposal is not that far off from the old proposal. Maybe the developer is hoping that nobody notices
    that it is virtually the same proposal (just taking 9 hotel rooms away) and it would still exacerbate an already difficult parking
    situation around the Grove Arcade. Brad Dawson

    • SpareChange

      Correct on all counts. I’ve carefully examined the new proposal, and this is the ultimate “change without a difference.” By maintaining a few offices, and applying the word “multi-purpose,” are they really suggesting that this somehow actually addresses or resolves the attendant problems of having (yet another) hotel there?

      The “problem” was not that they proposed an 80 room hotel instead of a 71 room one. The “problems” (because they are multiple) relate at the broadest level to continuing to turn Asheville into what is becoming the equivalent of a Central American one crop economy. Asheville in general, and downtown in particular, have become dependent upon hotels and tourism to an unhealthy extent, and it distorts not only our economy, but also our politics.

      As we become more and more singularly dependent on one source of jobs, tax revenue, etc., the hotel industry becomes inordinately powerful and is in a position to extract political and economic concessions which may be contrary to the many other interests which create a vibrant community and economy. Ironically, little seems to have been learned from the past, because Asheville once before found itself in the situation of becoming too dependent on tourism, and when that market crashed, so did Asheville. It took the better part of 50 years for the city to recover. Arguably we are setting ourselves up for that exact process again.

      As this relates more specifically to the Flatiron proposal, the fact that we have been seeing a growing number of development and building renovation projects, where the argument gets made that the “only” economically feasible use of the parcel of land or building in question, is to build or convert it into a hotel, is itself the strongest indication that we have already gone too far with hotel development. It also underscores a willingness to give in to the most obvious and most expedient of options, when what is needed is some vision and entrepreneurialism.

      There are many potential, profitable uses for that space existing between the polar options of the status quo (which I will grant is not sustainable) and the assertion that a “hotel is the only viable option.” With the idea of at least exploring some of those options, the Council should require a proposal which does not use the space for a hotel. On the other hand, if the City Council approves this current iteration of the same proposal (which seems to be the direction they are headed) it will confirm not only how politically locked in they’ve become to hotel and tourism interests, it will also underscore a startling lack of imagination and leadership.

    • Brooke Randle

      Hi Bradd,

      Thank you for catching that! The date should have read Tuesday, June 25. I’ve updated the article to reflect that date. Thanks again,
      Brooke

  2. Bradd

    And more importantly, I did not mention in above…..it would displace many people renting there!

    • Enlightened Enigma

      but would existing tenants be able to pay market rents if renovated into fresh new clean modern offices ? that would probably triple+ existing rates…

      • luther blissett

        The peanut gallery’s pretzel logic: “hotels are bad, but things that are not hotels are probably also bad.” Perhaps the Flatiron can be converted to the HQ of the Asheville Society of Complainers.

        “Market rents” are what they are because demand consistently outstrips supply. (That’s to say, the market is non-clearing.) Remove supply while demand remains the same and what do you think happens? Though in reality, it’s not pure Econ 101 because if you can’t find office space for a professional job that requires office space, you’ll start looking hard at other places to live.

        How much do you think it’s reasonable to pay for a 200 sq. ft. office?

        • Enlightened Enigma

          when it’s the (so I’ve heard) only office bldg in downtown, the potential rents should be significantly higher…yes.

  3. indy499

    The news of the school superintendent resignation notice demonstrates the low regard council has for city tax payers.

    The departing Ms Patterson worked here for less than 2 years.

    1. She resigned and is receiving severance. Is it being paid voluntarily? Why? Is it part of an employment agreement? If so, why would one agree to a contract with severance at resignation?

    2. The Superintendent will receive sick pay thru Nov 15. How does one obtain 4 1/2 months of sick pay in 2 years of work.

    Maybe council should pay attention to some details that impact the budget instead of teeing up their proclamations each week. No one cares about them. We do care about our money.

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