Letter: Au revoir, Charlotte Street

Graphic by Lori Deaton

“For greed all nature is too little.” — Seneca, Roman philosopher

Greed is the basis of the planned destruction of 13 historically valuable homes along Charlotte Street. Greed, thinly cloaked in the subterfuge of “affordable housing,” will eradicate part of an old and established neighborhood forever, leaving behind a development of roughly 180 apartments and commercial space.

Growth in Asheville is inevitable, but growth can be for the good or it can be cancerous. This development — if approved — is growth of the second type. With this plan, there will be nothing left of the area that was: leisurely strolls beneath stately old trees, folks tending their yards, sitting on porches, time marking its passage gently, as it has for over a century.


The Killian family’s hired-gun lawyer’s case falls into two categories: the need to raze buildings not worth salvaging and the need for affordable housing. The affordable housing problems of Asheville will not be solved by destroying our heritage. Other areas remain for such development. If the houses are in disrepair, it is because the Killian family has spent 30 of their 45 years here amassing the block of real estate on which the houses stand, then allowing them to fall into the disrepair they now claim makes them worthless. Accumulating 13 contiguous homes over 30 years is not accidental. …

Let growth occur, but not where it destroys our birthright. If these houses are torn down, the loss will be forever. The charm of the Charlotte Street area is part of what makes us valuable to the tourist economy. No one comes here to see affordable housing or a shopping mall. They want to see the Asheville of their imaginations: of Thomas Wolfe, of the Vanderbilts, River Arts and Shindig on the Green, restaurants and breweries, we colorful and eccentric locals. All this, plus our mountains and outlying towns, are what make us uniquely us. A quirky bumper sticker reads: “Keep Asheville Weird.” Better said might be, “Keep Asheville, Asheville.”

I write this with the heartfelt hope that our City Council will vote no on this project. We must grow, but we can grow intelligently and where it is proper, not through the destruction of what is good.

— Olin Blankenship


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10 thoughts on “Letter: Au revoir, Charlotte Street

  1. Voirdire

    Amen …though I’m afraid this latest alliteration of so called “progress” will probably be given a green light. Sigh. Anyway, the Asheville we once knew is long gone. Sigh again. Onward… wherever that might lead ;)

  2. KW

    Maybe when tourists have nothing to do but drink overpriced beer from plastic cups served with apathy beside a polluted river…when they close their eyes to tiptoe over the homeless to the backbeat of fading echoes of the drum circle that used to be enjoyable and not mere spectacle will we wake city council from this ongoing nightmare they have created by their silent complicity and love of hotels and lip-service to affordable housing….

    • Johnny to the A

      Most waitstaff in Asheville have the apathy trait embeded in their DNA.

  3. Enlightened Enigma

    Roflmao! Oh, this situation is so much fun to observe… don’tcha just love a bunch of liberals projecting sanctimony? That decrepit part of town NEEDS gentrification and will be very well served by these new projects planned for both sides of the street ! If only city council /maoyor had any other leadership skills….but no, they do not.

    • FF

      I can’t believe my eyes: A comment from EE without using the ridiculous word democrakkks.

  4. Mike R.

    In my opinion, objections to this project based on loss of historical structures make no economic sense. One can’t expect the property owners to spend millions of dollars in restoration and then what? Who to lease to?

    The affordable housing gain is also a small potatoes argument on the pro side. It helps, but it’s small.

    The real issue to be debated is the scale of the proposed project. What the developers have presented appears well thought out with streetscape and courtyard areas, but the height of the project (5 stories) will be a mistake. And, it will set the stage for future monstrosities on Charlotte and elsewhere.

    If the project were scaled back 25 to 30% in size and units (reduced height), I would be a strong supporter. But at the end of the day, we’re talking about money and lots of it. The developer makes a whole lot more with 5 stories than 3. Interesting that not one developer in a contested project has ever revealed the return on investment (ROI) numbers they have developed. Why? Because the “little people” would find out how much money is to be made with the bigger project. Greed drives most of everything these days in our failing America.

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