Letter: A better solution for Charlotte Street

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Asheville’s Charlotte Street is dear to my heart and an intrinsic part of my life. I grew up at 392 Charlotte St., the home of my late parents, Henry and Marie Colton. (My parents lived in that house for 51 years.)

Later, I spent 35 years in Charleston, S.C., returning to WNC about 10 years ago. While living in Charleston, I served a while as president of the Preservation Society. I mention this because The Preservation Society of Charleston was founded (in the 1920s) to prevent demolition of old houses. The reason given during that period for destroying most houses was that they had become totally uninhabitable and beyond repair. (Does this sound familiar?)

The interiors of many of the Charleston houses had been divided up into tiny little living units, literally slums. Among the buildings eventually saved from bulldozers was a group of 13 houses (as is the number of the Charlotte Street project slated for demolition). That particular group of East Bay houses was saved and is today probably the most iconic grouping of houses in the city of Charleston. It’s now called Rainbow Row; anybody who has visited Charleston or has simply seen pictures of Charleston would immediately recognize Rainbow Row.

However, a hundred years ago, they were slated for demolition with much the same rationale that the Killian/RCG developers are using to destroy historic houses (and mature, old-growth trees) for their Charlotte Street project.

Surely, Mr. Killian can find a more sensitive way to divest himself of this property. I am 1,000% in favor of mixed use, but not the needless destruction of land and history, only to be replaced by a traffic-clogging, mediocre, Anywhere USA development.

— Marie Colton Woodard


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14 thoughts on “Letter: A better solution for Charlotte Street

  1. FC Shaw

    The Asheville City Council and zoning board needs refreshing. It is incredible they would approve Charlotte Street…too much added traffic close to 240 interchange and it is hostile to the uniqueness of the area. Whether one approves or not people are moving to Asheville and the surrounding area which will put pressure on the infrastructure but also bring wealth and opportunity. However this needs to be managed in a way that this footprint is minimized. Damaging the character of the inner city, adjacent neighborhoods and close to 240 must be avoided.

    • indy499

      So you understand there will be growth but you oppose in-fill. Bet you’re strongly opposed tp sprawl also. Give me a break.

      • pkshave

        found the shill for the developer! Infill can be done in ways where historic sites are preserved; this particular project isn’t bad because it’s infill, it’s bad because it is destructive to the character of the neighborhood.

  2. Curious

    Could Mountain Xpress publishes photographs of the current look of the street where the developer wishes to put his project, along with photographs of the proposed development? It would help readers to evaluate if the houses there have historic/architectural interest and should be preserved.

    • FC Shaw

      You can use the pejorative “sprawl” but it is better to consider Asheville as a metropolitan area encompassing the surrounding town and communities….this is already a fact. Asheville is the crown jewel…the other cities have charm and this works in harmony together. But if you call Charlotte Street just “fill in” well thats seems a gross understatement. It changes the character of the neighborhood…it adds too many automobiles close to the 240 interchange…..which is already crowded but when you add this proposed development the added auto’s will will-must back up at busy times….Not good for a residential neighborhood. Not zero development just smarter development with minimal impact into existing neighborhoods. It should be considered on a “case by case” basis….whomever approved this one did not have those residents along Charlotte Street in mind. Today their quality of life is minimized by some one-percenter tomorrow it is your neighborhood whose charm and character is forever altered.

  3. Enlightened Enigma

    these ancient houses are money pits to rehab and offer far less living spaces…this will be a great re development for Charlotte Street!
    So glad they have approved the plans !

  4. reuben W dejernette

    Well this will probably boil down to greed and money. Greed, in the eye of the current landholder, there will be a very nice profit over the purchase price of the said properties. Money, in the eyes of our council as they see tax revenue and additional monies spent by new residents. Too bad there is no mention or intention to figure in offsetting infrastructure costs/expenses.

    What is it going to take for the City Council to understand…residents do not want our downtown landscape to be inundated with more multi housing units or hotels. Yes, people are moving to Asheville, so develop more single family units in the surrounding areas, or build the multi housing units where there is ample land and not in downtown Asheville.

    • indy499

      Another sprawl proponent. I’m sure all those new folks in “surrounding areas” will bike in.

      • reuben W dejernette

        So how do you get into the city ? Probably by auto, the new folks would probably do the same…you know share the road. You might think the roads are crowded already and one wants to add more volume. That is part of an infrastructure dilemma…keep adding volume without addressing the pathway or conduit and sooner or later the system gets overloaded. My thoughts anyway.

  5. indy499

    I love the heavily democratic NIMBY neighborhoods the best. Always some subjective character of neighborhood (as if that has never changed before and you were somehow guaranteed no change in perpetuity) issue. Always big fans of more housing. Vehemently opposed to sprawl. Just not here because we are different and special.

    You’ll never find a larger collection of hypocrits.

    • pkshave

      NIMBYs are bad but worse are YIMBYs like you. You’re like a layer cake of hypocrisy. Have you ever been to the site in question? Do you hate historic homes and trees or do you just love cheap modernist architecture with $1200/mo rent? You’re not a proponent of housing to balance the market, you’re just a lubricant for gentrification.

  6. Mike R.

    The old/neglected “historic” houses are not worth saving and certainly aren’t much of a justification for opposing the project.

    The project is several notches better than the garbage another developer proposed at the Fuddrucker’s site.

    But this project is still 30% too large for this area. I think that is and should be the key point for opposition.

    The developers can make lots of money even with a downsized project; they would just prefer to make a whole lot more with the current one.

    No one ever gets to see the ROI (return on investment) of these proposed developments. That is where you could discern how much greed versus “community caring” factors into these ventures.

    We asked for ROI information at the Fuddrucker’s public meeting and were quickly dismissed.

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