Nonprofit, business roundup: Cat cafe coming to West Asheville

PANTHER PARTY: House of Black Cat Magic will hold a grand opening from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 4. Photo courtesy of HBCM

A new cat cafe and adoption facility, House of Black Cat Magic, is holding its soft opening at 841 Haywood Road in early May. The new venue will feature a lounge where visitors can mingle with cats that need homes and a cat-themed retail store that will carry books, candles, incense and other items.

House of Black Cat Magic is a woman-owned collaboration involving Hannah Soboleski, nonprofit Binx’s Home for Black Cats executive director, foster coordinator Shari Comeau and Star Bustamonte, House of Black Cat Magic’s senior vice president.  

A grand opening is slated for noon-4 p.m. Sunday, June 4, and will feature a black cat adoption event and celebrity cat stylist Kate Benjamin, among other special guests. More information at  

Living Stone Design + Build moves to Asheville 

Living Stone Design + Build, a luxury custom home building company based in Black Mountain, has relocated to Asheville. The company will join sister design firm I.D.ology Interiors and Design and organic furniture studio Atelier Maison at 121 Sweeten Creek Road in the new Asheville Design District.  

Tip of the hat

Weichert, Realtors’ Asheville office has recognized several Realtors for outstanding performance in 2022. Those honored based on gross income and units closed include Brendan Dennehy,  Jessica Kitsos, Laura Hutchinson, Nedra Creason, Rebecca Condrey and Rick Sharpe.

“We are extremely fortunate to have such dedicated and knowledgeable agents who went above and beyond to offer exceptional service to their clients,” said Bill Scavone, president of Weichert Real Estate Affiliates Inc. and New Jersey-based Weichert, Realtors.

Tourism grant applications open until May 17

The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority is accepting applications through Wednesday, May 17, for Tourism Product Development Fund Grants to support tourism-based capital projects. The funding comes from occupancy taxes paid by overnight visitors. Applicants must be nonprofits that have operated for at least two years or a government entity. Projects must be in Buncombe County, demonstrate the ability to increase overnight stays and align with the BCTDA’s strategic imperatives, among other criteria. More information at   

Upgrades and enhancements

South Asheville Veterinary Emergency and Specialty, formerly known as Upstate Vet, tripled the size of its facility, going from 9,244 to 28,369 square feet. The hospital at 1836 Hendersonville Road contains state-of-the-art veterinary equipment, including on-site CT, MRI and fluoroscopy imaging. The facility also has separate feline and canine intensive care units and five surgical suites. More information at

The DoubleTree by Hilton’s downtown location finished $1.5 million in property upgrades last month. The property at 199 Haywood St. includes a full-service bar, a two-story fireplace, a covered patio and new furniture, among other aesthetic details throughout each floor.

Karen Cragnolin Park greenway breaks ground 

Workers broke ground last month on a paved path that will connect Karen Cragnolin Park. The land, located at 190 Amboy Road, was the site of an auto-crushing facility and was considered a brownfield due to soil contaminants. Nonprofit RiverLink has been working on soil remediation of the area for the last 10 years. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the greenway is projected for mid- to late summer. More information at

ABCCM to race to raise funds for Transformation Village

Ten runners representing Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry will take part in the Biltmore/Kiwanis 15K/5K Classic at Biltmore Estate race Sunday, May 21, to raise funds for Transformation Village, which offers housing and support to homeless women, children and veterans. The nonprofit is seeking two other participants to fill out the 10-person team. More information at

Moving on up

Asheville-based craftsman Colin Buxton was tapped to lead outdoor furniture brand Blue Ridge Chair Works. Buxton, who has more than five years of woodworking experience, succeeds Alan Davis, who led the brand since 2002.  Buxton plans to explore new ways to reduce waste and increase efficiency, such as repurposing scrap materials to create new products. 

Brian Cagle has been named regional vice president for the Asheville region of Allen Tate/Beverly-Hanks Realtors. Cagle will oversee 20 offices and more than 500 real estate agents and employees and be responsible for growing the realty’s presence and market share in Western North Carolina. 

Evergreen’s Odyssey of the Mind team heads to world finals

After placing first in regional and state competitions, a team of students from Evergreen Community Charter School is headed to the world finals for Odyssey of the Mind, a competition that incorporates science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. 

The students will head to Michigan State University to compete Wednesday, May 24, through Saturday, May 27. The team is raising money to cover travel, lodging and competition fees. More information at

Black Mountain-Swannanoa Valley fund awards grants

The Black Mountain-Swannanoa Valley Endowment Fund last month awarded 21 grants totaling $121,630 to nonprofits serving Western North Carolina. Among the awards were $7,500 to Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity; $4,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC; $5,172 to Black Mountain Center for the Arts; and $10,000 to Black Mountain Counseling Center.

In addition to the endowment, funding also came from the Buckner Family Endowment Fund, the Forbes Fund for Black Mountain-Swannanoa Valley, the Helen S. and Jerry M. Newbold Jr. Endowment Fund and Standaert Family Endowment Fund.

Incubator helps firms raise capital, revenue 

Startups in Venture Asheville’s mentorship-based incubator, Elevate, have raised more than $50 million in capital and generated over $100 million in revenue. Since its founding in 2015, Elevate has served over 70 Asheville-based startups, with the average startup incubating for 18-24 months. Venture Asheville local startups have created over 360 jobs with an average salary of $78,000 per year. 

Humane Society to waive adoption fees in May

The Asheville Humane Society is collaborating with the Bissell Pet Foundation, a national animal welfare organization, for the ”Empty the Shelters” adoption event. The Asheville Humane Society will waive adoption fees for all animals through Sunday, May 14. Interested adopters will meet one-on-one with adoption counselors to ensure compatibility; no appointments are necessary. More information at

Mountain BizWorks’ first Latino cohort welcomes 12 

Mountain BizWorks’ Latino Catalyst Cohort begins this month with 12 entrepreneurs selected from Henderson, Buncombe and Transylvania counties. The 10-month program is offered entirely in Spanish and will provide ongoing business and leadership skills for entrepreneurs of color.  Participants also receive $2,000 to subsidize the cost of business services and have the opportunity to work one-on-one with program facilitators and mentors at Mountain BizWorks. More information at


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