As a downtown Asheville resident who has been involved with issues of development and “infill” projects from the beginning, I want to be clear about what I am for and what I am against.
I am for good paying jobs for working people. I am for increased business for our local merchants. I am for Asheville developing into a world-class small city. Development that fulfills these needs, I applaud.
That said, I want it known I am not for how deals seem to be made and the public included only as window dressing on what seems to be done deals. I am against infill high-rise projects that detract from the charm and beauty of our city — as a specific example, Aloft Hotel — that, rather than add uniqueness and charm, stand as an eye-sore of mediocre design and materials, marring the quaintness of south Biltmore Avenue.
I am against big-money developers believing they can have their way with Asheville by dangling money in front of our city officials. Downtown space has value that is almost incalculable. We are a sellers' market. The city and the people of Asheville deserve better than what has happened with development in the past. Currently, our city property facing the Basilica seems to have been the latest “done deal” that went for too little money to the same developer who built Aloft or, if you prefer, the Neon Sparkler.
Paraphrasing Mayor Bellamy from the Sept. 11 Council hearing/meeting before Council’s final vote concerning the property facing the Basilica, “I don’t like the way this deal was done. Over the years, we did not give the public enough information and voice through the decision process.” We deserve better.
— Joe Cobble