I have rented office space in the Flatiron Building for my counseling practice for the last four years. I love my sunny sixth-floor office with a southern view over greater Asheville. But losing my office space is not my greatest concern. I am not just concerned for the 80 small businesses in the Flatiron — and some businesses have been there for over 40 years — I am concerned for all of us who will never again enter the building once it is a hotel.
I have an average of 20 clients weekly who come see me at my office. It is common conversation that it is exciting for them to be in this beautiful, historic building. It is a building where we go to see a lawyer, for business consultation, to get a facial or a massage, see a therapist, buy insurance, consult with graphic designers, visit our chaplain or activist organization. Hundreds of Asheville residents visit offices in the Flatiron daily. That’s not even counting the high volume of tourists that visit the Skybar.
It’s true that many have been leaving their offices, pre-empting what seems inevitable. The defeatist attitude is telling. I hear my Flatiron neighbors upset about the change, but see it as business as usual for a city that doesn’t care about its residents. It’s tragic to see how fellow residents are used to being let down by city governance and say that fighting is futile.
This particular City Council was voted in specifically to help preserve some of Asheville’s livability. We voted in members who boasted a care for affordable housing and sustainability. Having a downtown that residents have no reason to enter is not sustainable. I understand that we’re not supposed to stand in the way of progress, but is a downtown that serves tourists at the expense of residents the progress we want? When is enough enough?
— Catherine Shane