Looking out, not up

I just read the article [“Building a Legacy,” April 9] outlining the possibility (God forbid) of two 20-story buildings being erected in our beautiful city.

Stay visually small, Asheville, or we will live to regret it. We will get ugly, no matter how pretty they try to make the monsters look.

This is the point in our history when we make a decision whether or not we want to look like this: (artist’s rendition of possible future, depressing Asheville).

As an artist who has traveled all over the United States and lived in beautiful places, only to see them become a nest of architectural phallic symbols, believe me when I say [that] once you open the door, there’s no stopping the onslaught of investor groups that will see Asheville as the next hot money pot (even if our City Council is virtuous of heart when it comes to money). Notice this project is [by] a Florida-based group of investors.

Remember the Alamo—I mean, Staples!

Listen, I’m sure Mr. Fraga is a decent man—but if he wants a legacy, let it be to visual and historical beauty. Create the most visually amazing two-story building in history using people from Asheville to construct it. And if he wants a big hotel—no problem. Just please, spread it out in the outskirts—don’t go straight up downtown.

Mark these words: If this happens, Asheville will become another city of guys posturing for who has the biggest tower.

Please think about it. This doesn’t even take into consideration the daily disruption of our lives by all that major construction, bringing in all those huge beams and materials—and afterwards, the permanent traffic nightmare of the visiting population filling a 25-story hotel downtown.

Asheville can stay small. Spread out, not up!

— Lou Majors
Asheville

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6 thoughts on “Looking out, not up

  1. hauntedheadnc

    Asheville has been spreading out, and not up, all up and down Airport Road, Tunnel Road, South Tunnel Road, West Patton Avenue, Hendersonville Road… Need I go on about these bastions of loveliness? Every time I visit these areas of town, I can only conclude that out there in the sprawl, Asheville sure doesn’t look small at all.

    I wonder if this letter-writer is honestly delusional. How else do you trick yourself into not seeing the historic skyscrapers already in place downtown, and how in God’s name do you equate shortness with beauty, when downtown is pockmarked with hideous short buildings (mixed in amid those beautiful old tall buildings) such as the Biltmore Building, the HomeTrust Bank, 12 S. Lexington, and 21 Battery Park?

    I am truly in awe of how unabashedly deranged this letter is. Preserve the area’s beauty through suburban sprawl? Sweet Christ, it’s like dunking yourself in the sludge sloshing around inside a Realtor’s head. It’s like switching bodies with a Republican or a developer.

    And frankly it gives me a serious case of the willies. I didn’t know there were people this insane running loose on the public streets.

  2. We definitely do not want to contribute to more urban sprawl, lest we attempt to mimic Atlanta.
    Actually, our mountain ranges work to our advantage as that we should NOT build on slopes or ridges, but maintain valley oriented living spaces.
    {if you read the outstanding article “Clear as Mud” also in this week’s MX you’ll see that a primary cause of our water pollution is sediment runoff caused by overdevelop and sprawl}

    While there is a charm that needs to be preserved in downtown’s atmosphere, we must build up. Sky rights are something Asheville needs to deal with. Whether that means we zone so that Tunnel road, Broadway Ave, Riverside, or other outskirts of the downtown become ‘high-rise districts’ or whether we allow the BBT to become dwarfed to Ellington size projects. A lot of this should be determined in the current Master Plan process.
    See this link for times to come to the public Master Plan meetings to share concerns and ideas:
    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2008/its_all_part_of_the_plan

    Nevertheless, working with natural trends is to our advantage and anyone who is paying attention to current urban development trends knows that for the next stage and many years to come – building downtown is where it’s at.
    Save the land for natural environments.
    Save your gas and your health and live downtown.

  3. hauntedheadnc

    If beauty threatens affordability, Mr. Ditmore, then I fear you’ll have no choice but to move to either Spartanburg or Gastonia, both of which are as ugly, and affordable, as you could ever hope for. Asheville, on the other hand, at least for the moment, is beautiful, and it doesn’t need the likes of you trying to screw it up. Besides, don’t you have some ranting about contraceptives to attend to?

  4. Alan Ditmore

    beauty anywhere threatens affordability everywhere and I have every right to make my 80 acre farm as ugly as possible before moving to Reno, where legal prostitution can set the stage for municipal contraception. Besides, ugliness is itself a contracptive as exemplified both by the nickname for military issue glasses and the very low birthrate in Russia. NO HEIGHT LIMITS ANYWHERE! Asheville needs to follow Daytona, not Boulder.

  5. Alan Ditmore

    Staples was wonderful because it reduced rents with demand in the entire area, thus increasing affordability. Thus I try to buy there whenever possible.

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