I am writing to inform the community that as early as Sept. 10, City Council will consider approval of yet another hotel project in Asheville, the Create 72 Broadway hotel proposal. This project would likely result in Asheville City Market’s inability to continue to operate on North Market Street on Saturdays year-round.
I am a vendor at Asheville City Market. My farm, Dry Ridge Farm, sells beef, pork and eggs at ACM and at three other Asheville farmers markets, as well as to several dozen Asheville restaurants. While we are a Madison County farm, we sell exclusively within Asheville. In 2018, approximately 25% of our total sales occurred at Asheville City Market. The loss of that income would be absolutely devastating to our farm and to our family. I know this is the case for most ACM vendors as well.
ACM’s impact on our food community goes beyond serving as a vibrant retail outlet for current vendors. The market has served to help launch some of Asheville’s most successful food businesses, including Smoking J’s Fiery Foods, Smiling Hara Tempeh and No Evil Foods. ACM’s loss would have a dramatic impact on Asheville’s current and future food economy.
I believe that the developers of Create 72 Broadway are genuine in their desire to support and work with ACM organizers to find a solution that allows the market and the hotel project, not only to both survive in the same location, but to complement one another. At first glance, a hotel and residential project near the market could appear to benefit both parties.
However, I have yet to see how that desire can possibly become a reality. There have been no viable proposed solutions to date; the only proposal I have heard has been to close North Market Street midway through the street to allow hotel parking access while the market is open on Saturdays. I haven’t been able to find a single instance when the fire marshal has agreed to ignore the very real safety concerns of a partial street closure. This is simply not a realistic “solution,” not to mention the impact that a reduced market footprint would have on the 20 vendors who would be unable to participate in the market because of it.
Others have suggested the market could thrive in another location. Having served on ACM’s Oversight Committee during the search for a new location, I know that of the small handful of “options,” North Market Street was the only viable one. I am confident that there are no other options within the city for a new market location, but I encourage City Council and city employees to prove me wrong.
I am impressed with Create 72’s vision, and I believe that the project, in a different location, could very well have a positive impact on our community. However, given the high number of other similarly unique hotel developments already underway in our community, and given the negative impact that this project will have on the market, I am vehemently opposed to its approval at this time. It is my heartfelt opinion that Create 72 Broadway, as currently proposed, would be the death of Asheville City Market.
All of this said, if approved, I would like to ask City Council to simultaneously make a clear commitment to the food producers serving your city’s residents. Asheville is not alone in being known for its thriving food community and culture; however, other cities in our region recognize the benefits of providing food access within their cities by having dedicated city-funded spaces for their farmers market events. Durham and Carrboro both have covered pavilion space dedicated to their farmers markets, and Greenville, S.C., closes several blocks in the center of the city every Saturday for their farmers market. I urge City Council to make that kind of commitment to Asheville’s vibrant farmers market community, not just with their words, but by dedicating the financial resources and human resources necessary to create that reality.
I am neither anti-business nor anti-hotel. As a first-generation American, my parents moved to the United States to start a manufacturing business; I have grown up in business, and now my own company sells to two hotel restaurants on a weekly basis. Our farm benefits directly from Asheville’s thriving business and tourism economy. I am not opposed to hotel projects in Asheville, but Create 72 Broadway will devastate the 60 businesses that Asheville City Market supports.
City Council is now faced with a decision to either support a hotel developer or to support dozens of local farmers and food producers and the Asheville residents who choose to purchase healthy whole foods from them. I hope they will choose to support farmers.
— Wendy Brugh
Dry Ridge Farm
Editor’s note: Asheville City Council’s Tuesday, Sept. 10, agenda calls for a public hearing on the conditional rezoning of three parcels for the construction of the Create 72 Broadway project.