Letter: City Council should support farmers over hotel developers

Graphic by Lori Deaton

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
Mars Hill

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.

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10 thoughts on “Letter: City Council should support farmers over hotel developers

  1. jason

    There’s plenty of places for you to sell your vegetables. You just don’t want to pay the fee to do it. You expect the city to pay for you to have a spot to go. No wonder Trump will probably win again.

    • Lulz

      LOL Trump ain’t running the city. And those that do are either ignorant, corrupt, or naive.

      You’re right though. All they want is free space to make.money. But someone else is.paying for it. Which somehow never crosses their minds.

      Also note how it’s either give us free space or you’re not supporting us. Not we will pay a fee like other businesses do. Totally screwed up thought process there.

      • jason

        Hey Lulz…I know Trump doesn’t run the city, but it is this type of thinking of why people turned to the great orange one. People are sick and tired of all this whining and hand out mentality.

        • luther blissett

          “People are sick and tired of all this whining and hand out mentality.”

          Unless you’re the president. Or a soybean farmer in Missouri getting taxpayer money because China stopped buying soy thanks to the stupid trade war. A posture of perpetual grievance rots the soul.

          • Able Allen

            Let’s keep it on topic and local, please.

          • luther blissett

            The topic is that the peanut gallery has decided that certain local farmers are greater freeloaders than the downtown gentry who make bank from holding on to empty lots while the market value rises. This is a pretzel-like ethical justification they’ve fabricated on the spot. As was demonstrated in their comments on the Flatiron sale, they are fine with developments that reward idle capital and uproot people who work for a living — and these farms count as small businesses — as long as it upsets those they dislike. How very neighborly.

            It takes a special kind of grievance politics to decide that the City Market serves “wealthy elitist” more than the proposed hotel.

    • indy499

      It’s actually worse than you describe. She’s not a resident and wants us to give her a freebie. How about NO.

  2. Robin

    So, a Madison County resident/business is mad that Asheville won’t preserve them some free premier real estate in our booming downtown, so they’re protesting a project that will turn the space into a tax and job (revenue) generating property?
    What Western North Carolina needs is a “Farmers Market” where farmers could come and sell their wares, and both locals and tourists would know to go there to get quality “local” products.

    Ironically, they already have a website and an address, so it wouldn’t take much more work to make it a reality:
    https://www.ncagr.gov/markets/facilities/markets/asheville/

    • luther blissett

      Oh, bless your heart, you should read the pages you link to. Most of the Farmers’ Market is for wholesale purchases, and only one of the truck sheds is for direct-to-customer sales.

      It’s telling how many people want Bob Deutsch to make bank on his parking lot.

      • Robin

        My point was that all you need is to be a certified farmer to sell there. If they have to lease a space for their business; join the rest of the business world.

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