Preserve Basilica’s beauty

Dear mayor, members of Asheville City Council and fellow citizens of Asheville:

Our beautiful city of Asheville made a huge step forward with the restoration of the Grove Arcade. The way it was done, with eye appeal and functionality, and keeping the overall dimensions of the building appropriate to the area, is to be applauded. This gave citizens of Asheville great hope for the restoration of that entire area.

As regards our most well-known historic structure, the Basilica of St. Lawrence, I believe that we must be very careful of what we do in the area between it and the Grove Arcade. High structures may be appropriate in some low-lying areas of the city, perhaps at the foot of Lexington and the start of Broadway, but not in the higher-lying areas that will affect the skyline and our historic treasures.

I am very concerned that what we have already achieved will be diminished if the MHG Development design is adopted. It is too tall and has far too large a footprint. Also, the design does not seem to complement the best structures that already exist there.

I have seen another rendition offered by MMM Development [a real-estate developer hired by the Basilica], which respects the historic value of the surrounding area and offers eye-appeal and functionality. The plaza-piazza design is exactly what is needed to make this the heart of Asheville.

Looking at it from a visitor’s point of view, I would find this appealing enough to consider planning a week in Asheville every year as a place to rest and recharge my energy.

I’ve been a resident of Asheville for 30 years, coming here from western New York, where beautiful, historic churches abound. We have a treasure here in the Basilica of St. Lawrence.

Please, your honor and City Council, preserve and protect the beauty and value that our ancestors left us.

— Nina M. D’Arcy,
Asheville

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100 thoughts on “Preserve Basilica’s beauty

  1. John Smolkin

    Good letter Nina. Yes, Council PLEASE do not allow this hotel to go up in that location. Any City Councilperson who votes for it should be voted out of office. Keep the good things about Ashevilleas they are.

  2. travelah

    How does a hotel or anything else in the location negatively affect the beauty of that particular piece of architecture?

  3. John Smolkin

    Quite simple actually, traveler. It will not fit in with what is already there. And being a high rise, it will over-shadow the church,and skew the entire skyline in that area. Now this may be de rigour up in the NE where you obviously are from, but it doesn’t go well here anyway. Asheville’s buildings should be low to fit in. 5 stories max. Besides, we already have 3 hotels going up. This town will not support that many as it is, without a new one being discussed. In case you haven’t noticed, our economy is in the tank. And with the spend thrift party in power, God knows when we will return to the era where people can afford to vacation in style at a “boutique” hotel.

  4. travelah

    I am guessing you have no idea how many hotels can be supported in Asheville. Regardless, the end use of the property has little to do with preserving the architectural aspects of an adjacent building on a separate lot. It could be surrounded with diverse buildings and it would not be impacted at all. Fortunately, wiser minds than yours will make these determinations.

  5. LOKEL

    Hey John, do you think the proprietors of these hotels just blindly build and open their businesses without a bit of market research.

    The “powers that be” have been discussing “linking” a hotel with the Civic Center for years ostensibly so that there would be more “rentable space” for conventions etc. that would bring the precious tourist dollar into town.

    The Diocese and congregation of SL tore their own ugly 4 story building down that was across the street a few years back – it was taller than the Cathedral and was certainly closer to it than the proposed new construction.

    There have been no complaints over the years as the Civic Center, the Indigo etc. have been built nearby, so why the rankling now?

    The Diocese will be lucky to have a pot to piss in once the 2 lawsuits they are soon to be facing are resolved.

  6. hauntedheadnc

    I don’t support a hotel in that location either, simply because that piece of property is perfectly suited for a park. Lots of other properties where people don’t want anything built aren’t suited for parkland.

    However, the argument that a hotel won’t fit in there and that buildings shouldn’t be any taller than five stories is idiotic. There are already two (three, if you want to count the Hotel Indigo) tall buildings nearby. The Battery Park Apartments and the Vanderbilt Apartments loom over that side of town, and there are other taller buildings nearby too.

    Also, I hear a lot of fuss and blather about how new architecture won’t fit in, and that’s a stupid argument too. Buildings in Asheville look out of place when they do match each other. The buildings downtown clash with each other. All the best buildings clash with each other in fact, such as the Drhumor Building and the S&W;Cafeteria. The Civic Center (not one of the best buildings, however) clashes with the basilica right now.

    So, don’t try the height or architecture arguments. If you’d open your eyes, you’d see they don’t work. The only argument with any merit is the simple fact that the property in question just happens to be perfectly suited for use as open space.

  7. Mysterylogger

    No parks either there are already enough parks and louging area’s for the tragicly hip.

  8. AvlResident

    Can someone clarify? The letter writer refers to the Basilica hiring a real-estate developer, presumably to propose a plan for the space across from the Basilica. Was that plan presented to the city? Did the Basilica and the developer it hired not have an opportunity to compete against the McKibben group to buy the property? Did McKibben outbid them? Did MMM Development and the Basilica not have the opportunity to raise funds – perhaps from the public – to top the McKiben bid?

    Another letter write refers to a building that the Basilica tore down and paved over the property. Is that the property in question or another property? Can someone answer that letter writer’s question as to why the Basilica did not create a park green/space on the property it owned, instead of paving it over?

    If the Basilica wants only parks fronting its facade, will it turn the land it owns into a park to match the park it wants the city to create? Or would that land remain a paved parking lot?

    Is the McKibben plan for the space posted on the Web anywhere? How can one form an intelligent opinion without seeing what the McKibben group is proposing to build?

    Finally, what is the history of the property the McKibben group wants to buy? Has it always been city owned? Was there ever a building on it?

  9. Something over 2,000 people have signed a petition urging the city to set aside property in that location for a park.

    I’ve seen no broad public support for the planned sale by the city to a developer who wants to build a very large structure there.

    Given that the property belongs to we the taxpayers, it would seem to me that this sale, at minimum, warrants a public hearing instead of a sale planned and executed behind closed doors. The administration that has given us the ten-story eyesore on the former Chamber of Commerce site shouldn’t be permitted to do it again without public input.

    It’s all well and good to imagine that the civic center would suddenly become an attractive convention destination if there were more rooms in walking distance, but let’s look at the numbers. The shows that make serious money and draw big crowds to the civic center are not conventions, they are jam concerts, RV shows, gun shows, wedding shows and craft shows.

    And in regard to the wisdom of “market research,” those bright lights of the investment world just tanked our economy. Between that and the escalating price of oil, teleconferencing and conventioneering close to home are beginning to affect business travel in a big way.

    As for the constantly bandied concern about “those people” who hang out in parks. Additional park space doesn’t increase the number of loiterers, whether they are business folks eating lunch with the squirrels or vagabonds on the road or temporarily homeless people cast off in our economic collapse or the many, many who are homeless due to health care costs. I’ve interviewed the people in Pritchard from time to time, and to collectively label them as troublemakers is extremely short-sighted.

    The Basilica/Civic Center location was identified almost two decades ago as a prime location for another park within walking distance for downtown residents, workers and visitors. Forward thinking cities around the world preserve openings amidst their buildings to give citizens a respite from pavement and vertical walls. There’s room on the city-owned land there for a building or buildings and a park. Asheville doesn’t have to model its future on Charlotte’s concrete canyons. We can do better.

  10. LOKEL

    My favorite argument is that the building will “cast a shadow” over the Basilica …. I wonder how the no development folks would react if a 13 story building were to be proposed on the opposite side of 2-40 across from SL … not to mention, IF the City ever decides to close up shop at the current Civic Center – who knows what might be built in that space once the new Civic Center opens.

  11. John Smolkin

    Traveler: “Fortunately, wiser minds than yours will make these determinations.”

    Wiser minds than mine? You yankees have ruined your NE cities. Now you move down here and want to make us like the area you left? And tell us how to do things “right”? LOL, who is the wiser one? Asheville, as it is, drew you here didn’t it?

    My arguments are very valid. I care about this town. My family goes way back here. It is my home town. You are a yankee-come-lately who is obviously more interested in the money that can be made than in preserving the character of Asheville. Go back home if you want high rise boutique hotels. Us locals have done just fine without people like you gumming up the works.

  12. And as I’ve noted elsewhere, the notion that we can “Increase the tax base” by encouraging big new buildings is a fraud. After 10-15 years of boom times in Asheville, we haven’t even been able to afford roof repairs on our Art Deco city hall. The top two floors are unusable so we rent private office space in Innsbruk Mall. Big scale, high speed development always costs city residents more. They pay more taxes to enable the boosters.

    It doesn’t have to be that way. We can do better.

  13. AvlResident

    Perhaps Mr. Bothwell, who is running for City Council, could demonstrate his ability to listen and answer questions from the voters by answering my questions posted above. I genuinely want to know, have no opinion one way or other on this issue and am trying to gather information. Are there any other City Council candidates who might wish to reply? I tend to vote for candidates who answer my questions.

  14. John Smolkin

    Thank you Cecil for looking out for us. You have my vote.

  15. LOKEL

    Mr. Cecil your assertion that the current site was discussed 2 decades ago seems a bit off.

    There were hardly any folks living downtown in 1989 (2 decades ago), there were the subsidized apartments and a few others, but no where near the numbers we have today.

    We’ve gone almost 5 years without the largest “Park” in downtown (ground was broken on 8/22/2005), and aside from the surrounding business owners, I don’t recall hearing a peep out of REAL downtown residents …. yes, there was the “save the tree” wingnuts, as well as those who oppose any & everything new (who probably rarely ‘use’ our parks; and even the recent organization of DARN (Downtown Asheville Residential Neighbors – formed this year), hasn’t been very vocal regarding either Pack or the alleged 20 year old proposed park.

    I guess what I am getting at is 2,000 people have signed a petition (the population of the metro area by the US Census Bureau is 408,436), that is a drop in a very large pond.

    I agree with an earlier poster – why hasn’t the Diocese put a park on its on land that has been a parking lot for years (and, by the way, they do not seem to consider a littered, crumbling expanse of pavement to be an eyesore across the street), and they have done little to spruce up the area around it either. Could it be that it is a cash cow for them, when they charge $5-10 to park there depending on the event at the Civic Center, or for Bele Chere?

    Finally, I didn’t know that the McKibbon Group (and/or their market researchers / consultants) had anything to do with this Nations’ current financial situation. Or is this information something that only you are privy to?

  16. bobaloo

    After 10-15 years of boom times in Asheville, we haven’t even been able to afford roof repairs on our Art Deco city hall. The top two floors are unusable so we rent private office space in Innsbruk Mall. Big scale, high speed development always costs city residents more. They pay more taxes to enable the boosters.

    No offense, but not only does the City pissing away it’s money have nothing to do with the proposed hotel, but this doesn’t make any sense to me.

    So by allowing new hotels in the city the residents pay more taxes? Can you explain this?

  17. Sure thing. I’ll answer the questions I can, having covered the back story for several years as a reporter here. (And given that it’s raining so I can’t be out working for a living.)

    The letter writer refers to the Basilica hiring a real-estate developer, presumably to propose a plan for the space across from the Basilica. Was that plan presented to the city?
    • I believe the person who proposed an alternate plan is in some way associated with the church, but not “hired” per se. Maybe a member.

    Did the Basilica and the developer it hired not have an opportunity to compete against the McKibben group to buy the property?
    • The city issued a Request for Proposals. That other plan was submitted.

    Did McKibben outbid them?
    • Based on undisclosed criteria that other plan was deemed to be insufficient.

    Did MMM Development and the Basilica not have the opportunity to raise funds – perhaps from the public – to top the McKiben bid?
    • No, per the previous answer.

    Another letter write refers to a building that the Basilica tore down and paved over the property. Is that the property in question or another property?
    • The Basilica had obtained an old commercial building (don’t know whether it was a legacy or a purchase at some point) which they used for Sunday school classes and other purposes for a number of years. It was decrepit and was torn down a couple of years ago when the church decided it needed parking more than a maintenance problem. (My inference here.)

    Can someone answer that letter writer’s question as to why the Basilica did not create a park green/space on the property it owned, instead of paving it over?
    • The Basilica has been in talks off and on over the years concerning the city plans. (See below.)

    If the Basilica wants only parks fronting its facade, will it turn the land it owns into a park to match the park it wants the city to create? Or would that land remain a paved parking lot?
    • The expressed desire of the Basilica spokesperson is that whatever happens across the street not massively overawe the church. They have not asked that it be “only” a park, merely that the grandeur of the church be considered, and the views for tourists who come here from around the world to see that building.

    Is the McKibben plan for the space posted on the Web anywhere? How can one form an intelligent opinion without seeing what the McKibben group is proposing to build?
    • There isn’t actually a plan. There is a proposal. The original talk was about a very tall building, now the talk is about a 7 story tall building. The very reasonable fear of many people I have talked to (which I share) is that this city has a history of approving very bad projects and failures to enforce the rules. Hence we have a Super Wal-Mart, Staples, Greenlife, Walgreens who have done projects that violate our UDO, all permitted to do so by the city staff. It doesn’t lead to feelings of trust when we are reassured that everything will be pretty, just shut up and sit down.

    Finally, what is the history of the property the McKibben group wants to buy? Has it always been city owned? Was there ever a building on it?
    • There are buildings on part of it. A small parking deck with restaurant space on the ground floor facing Haywood Street, and a two story brick one facing Page (next to Cap’n’s Bookshelf). The property was acquired by the city in preparation to build a five story parking deck that would have wrapped around the Battery Park Apartments (even closer to the Basilica) filling what is now the surface parking area between the Battery Park and Haywood, the Basilica parking lot which the city was negotiating to purchase, and some of the space now offered to McKibbon.

    Under that scenario, Page Ave. would have been redirected over toward the Vanderbilt Apts.

    People were outraged about the size, the cost, the fact that many of the parking spaces were already to be set aside for private clients, and the obviously flawed parking study on which the whole scheme was based. (I will admit that some might disagree with me on this matter. But where in town is it easier to find parking than around the Arcade, even all these years after we supposedly HAD TO have a five story deck there?)

    Hope that helps some.

  18. I’m answering overlapping posts. But this to Bobaloo.

    The most comprehensive studies on the myth of growth have been done in Oregon, but results are similar elsewhere. You can find links on one of my Web sites. http://cecilsblog.wordpress.com/2009/05/23/full-system-development-charges-ordinance/

    In brief, close analysis has shown that larger cities almost without exception have higher taxes. New developments, again with rare exceptions, pay less of the infrastructure and social costs they create than are paid for by the property taxes and fees on their projects. (And most developers still insist that they are overpaying.)

    So current residents whose taxes go up to cover more traffic control cops, wider streets, new traffic control devices, more classrooms, and on and on, are paying the price of development. I don’t offer that to argue against THIS particular project, but to point out that the argument that we need the development, the jobs, the tax base, is a fraud. It doesn’t work that way, despite the fact that most politicians have bought into the myth of growth.

    I don’t mean to suggest that all development is bad, but we don’t need to be busting our butts to get more of it. We don’t need to offer incentives. And we shouldn’t accept that as an argument for why a large hotel on that site is somehow inherently better than a park for the good of the city.

    For example, if a park on part or all of that site increased the desirability of existing residential rentals and condos, and increased the foot traffic to local businesses, it could gain the city more in tax revenue than a big new project that blocks traffic for a couple of years, makes pedestrian use less attractive, and installs its own restaurant and shops to compete with the current businesses.

    In an era of rapidly rising energy costs and efforts to suppress carbon emissions, vacationing at home will become more and more part of our lives. We should be designing a city that we want to live in, for our children to play in, not a city based on some “highest and best use” theory about maximizing dollar return for investment bankers. This is, at bottom, a commons we live in, not simply an investment opportunity.

  19. LOKEL

    Part of the problem the City doesn’t have the money is the continual misguided attempts of the City Council to try and appease / please everyone with every project put before them.

    They have always LOVED to hire a Consultant or two (and almost always from out of town), commission a study or two, and pay big bucks for it all only to do nothing in the end claiming their hands are “tied”.

    Even the new Downtown Master Plan has been “approved in concept” and several of the current members of Council have stated that “legally the plan will most likely not be lawfully enforced.”

    Not to mention tax breaks and “incentives” to businesses wishing to locate in our fair City which also guts the tax base.

    The State of NC just gave Apple Computer what will eventually amount to almost 500,000,000 (yes 500 million) in tax breaks and incentives to locate a server farm in one of the States’ more economically depressed Counties for the prospect of approximately 50 (yes FIFTY) actual jobs … jobs which, by the way, probably will be filled with folks from outside those very Counties.

    It is this kind of leadership that has gotten us into our current local, State, and National financial situation which has resulted in no tax monies for education or anything else.

  20. LOKEL

    “For example, if a park on part or all of that site increased the desirability of existing residential rentals and condos, and increased the foot traffic to local businesses, it could gain the city more in tax revenue than a big new project that blocks traffic for a couple of years, makes pedestrian use less attractive, and installs its own restaurant and shops to compete with the current businesses.”

    Do you hold these same ideals for the “proposed” Parkland Condos (Blackdog Realty) on the currently closed Pack Square Park?

    I ask this because, there has been little to no pedestrian traffic at all for the past 5 years AND the area businesses have reported measurable drops in revenue (which might increase dramatically when/if the project is completed – and the completion of that project (the Condo building) was estimated to take around 3 years by the developer at publicly held meetings (a lot quicker than the 5 year boondoggle that has occurred under the guise of a “conservancy”.

  21. hauntedheadnc

    John Smolkin, I sincerely hope you’re not trying to brand everyone who isn’t opposed to downtown growth as some sort of Yankee. I note that you were saying your arguments were valid when I was pointing out how they’re not, and accusing anyone who disagrees with you of being a Yankee.

    I was born in Fletcher if you were wondering, and I’ve spent my entire life within 20 miles of Pack Square.

  22. AvlResident

    Thank you to Mr. Bothwell for answering questions so thoroughly. I hope if/when you are elected to City Council, you don’t only answer voter questions because “it’s raining”.”
    If I understand, the Basilica doesn’t oppose a building or even advocate a park. It wants a building less than seven stories. Can the developer who created a plan for a hotel advocated by the Basilica explain why its proposal was turned down? It looks like a very nice plan.
    Are the opponents of the McKibben hotel opposing ANY hotel or commercial use?
    Are we talking about architectural aesthetics or land use? Is it “a park is the only acceptable option?” Or “a hotel or some other building whose design we approve would be an acceptable option?”
    Agree it was . . stupidity, incompetence? . . on the part of city planners who thought forcing Staples and Walgreen’s on Merrimon to build right at the sidewalk line would somehow turn Merrimon into a pedestrian boulevard with shop windows to linger over. Same is true for the building with Jersey Mike’s. So agree that trusting the city planners to protect anything doesn’t make sense.

    But . .until we can see the McKibben plan . . it’s not clear we should oppose the McKibben plan.

  23. AvlResident

    From Mr. Bothwell’s answer:
    • The expressed desire of the Basilica spokesperson is that whatever happens across the street not massively overawe the church. They have not asked that it be “only” a park, merely that the grandeur of the church be considered, and the views for tourists who come here from around the world to see that building.-

    So it seems that if the McKibben seven-story hotel, through creative architecture, considered the grandeur of the church and did not massively overawe it and considered the view for tourists, it would be acceptable. I.M. Pei found a way to consider the grandeur of the Venetian palazzo style of the old Pack Library, Pack Square and the Vance Monument by reflecting those in the mirror-skin of the Akzona (now Biltmore)Building. I urge everyone, include the Basilica and the McKibben opponents to look at the way the John Hancock Building in Copley Square, built smack-dab against H.H. Richardon’s magnificent Trinity Church in no way “overawes it,” but creates an astonishing companion.
    [URL=http://travel.webshots.com/photo/123709]

  24. Lokel, I see that as exactly the opposite, since Parkside is a nonexistent project, versus my reference to “existing.”

    But I oppose Parkside for two more tangible reasons:
    1. The property sold to Coleman by the County was given to the County “forever” for use either for a courthouse or public space. This was in one of his deeds and confirmed by the minutes of the county commission that accepted the gift.
    2. The proposed project violates the rules established by the county, the city and the conservancy, which prohibits construction within a sight triangle from the Vance Monument which embraces both the city and county buildings. As Coleman’s architect told me at the Conservancy meeting where he presented the plan, his building only obstructs the view of City Hall “a little bit.”

    Oh.

  25. John Smolkin

    Haunted, I was speaking directly to a poster named traveler, who IS a NE yankee. I am not opposed to all development. I just think it should be done carefully, and with an eye to keeping Asheville’s charm in place. And Lokel, I do agree with you that the Council for the most part has been too willing to waste our tax money on “consultants”, often from places like Boston (horrors to a local!).

    I am perplexed that supposed “progressive” Council members are so quick to allow these developments. I imagine they are thinking of the added tax money to the city coffers to fund more parks and other pet projects. Well, that is NOT progressive in my book. And don’t they realize that property taxes will drive a lot of the local downtown businesses out of business? Then we will either have empty store fronts, or worse yet, “hobby” boutique type businesses run by wealthy outsiders. In the process, the charm of Asheville will be lost and we will become like a smaller version of manhattan. Which is flatout evil.

  26. who

    Smolkin, just stick to your points, some may be valid. There are some nice cities in the north. It is not all some evil industrial landscape. I have nothing to weigh in, I don’t know enough, although I am interested in this issue. And the civil war is over.

  27. who

    ,…and Al Capone was such a towering intellect in the area of socioeconomics.

  28. joe blow

    The city council has been working on getting rid of the blighted parking lot that produces NO tax base, for at least 2-3 years. If anyone wants to know EXACTLY and CORRECTLY what has and is happening, all they have to do is go to the city web site. the entire process ic there for anyone to read. people like Bothwell who have a political agenda never let facts get in the way. surely he knows the city maintains informastion on all important projects for citizens to stay informed. perhaps reporter Bothwell might read up since he wants to be an expert. duh.

  29. John Smolkin

    Yes “Who”, the War Between The States is over. But there are clear differences between the NE states and the Southern states, attitude-wise and culture-wise. The NE states tend to have very high taxes. They encourage businesses like “boutique” hotels with a view to bringing in a lot of tax money. The end result is, yes tax money for local politicians to spend, often to feather their own nests, but also to push out smaller businesses as the tax rates increase on property values.

    Retired middle class people cannot afford to retire in their home states of Mass, NY, NJ, CT, NH, etc. The property tax rates are very high. Try $5000 a year on a $200,000 house in New Jersey. So they move here. Some of them have been so brainwashed by the culture they came from, they blindly are in favor of changing here into the place they moved from. Not very intelligent. They cannot see the root causes of what has ruined their home states.

    Keep Asheville pretty much as it is now. I love this town and do not want to see it ruined. Those in favor of unbridled development, move to an area where that is accepted. Like Florida. If you want high taxes to go with highrises, go to the NE states.

  30. Joe, Nothing I have said contradicts anything I have read on the city Web site – except the underlying assumption on the part of the city that the McKibbon plan is suitable.

    And while, of course, a parking lot owned by the city generates no taxes (duh), it has actually served us well as a parking lot for Civic Center (and other downtown) events. There are more ways to measure value than in taxes paid.

    The city was looking for a big deal, for a proposal that would entail a big dollar investment to suit a particular vision of Asheville’s future. Have they tried to sell off the existing buildings independent of the parking lot? Why haven’t they leased the restaurant space vacated by the Flying Frog (which was, at the time that FF exited, a successful operating restaurant.) Why haven’t they leased the building that fronts on Page all these years? The buildings could have been generating income for the city, and sale of each might have generated adaptive reuse of existing structures, the greenest building possible.

    I agree with John Smolkin. Asheville for Ashevillians. The outside developers who so heavily funded the last round of city elections and who may well step in this time do not have our best interests at heart.

  31. hauntedheadnc

    The only constant in life is change, John Smolkin. If you can’t adapt to change, you’re going to be one very unhappy man all the rest of your days.

    Have you always been averse to change? Were you displeased to see downtown recover from its abandonment? If you had lived in Asheville eighty years ago, would you have spoken out against all the development then that gave us the city we love now?

    Please try to be more realistic. Change is not the enemy. Bad planning is the enemy, along with bad architecture. Buildings, growth, new hotels, and tall buildings all have their place in Asheville. When you say they don’t, you just sound silly.

  32. John Smolkin

    Haunted, you are so far afield, you do not deserve an answer. Other than this. Change is NOT always good, and is probably bad at least 50% of the time. Taunting change, and denouncing those who disagree with development as being afraid of change, is weak at best. You sound like you have a stake in this. Are you a realtor or associated with a developer in some way? Sounds like it. Be honest. Tell us what your stake in this is.

    Cecil, thank you for your posts on this issue. You have my complete support for City Council.

  33. joe blow

    Gee if Mr. Bothwell gets elected, does he plan to respond to citizen comments from his council seat with rebuttals like “duh”. If so he will fit well sitting next to Carl Mumpower. Is that who he wants to be compared with? Bothwell and Mumpower—dont respect the public. It so much easier to be a memebr of the public and to make jabs at public officials you dont agree with. I hope and expect elected officials who serve the public to be better than “duh”.

  34. hauntedheadnc

    John Smolkin… It’s a true mark of maturity when you respond to a comment by saying it’s not worth responding to. It’s also a common psychological tactic, and an immature one, to make accusations when you are incapable of an actual rebuttal.

    I’m well aware that change is not always good. Exhibit A is the Biltmore Building, which replaced a row of historic shop buildings with a modernist box. However, as that box is nice and short, I doubt many other citizens are complaining because as we’ve seen time and again, you can build whatever crap you like so long as it isn’t tall. Try to build something tall, no matter how exquisite, however, and Ashevillians will be on you like wolves on a pork chop.

    I am not a realtor or a developer, and in fact, I think that as many as 90 percent of realtors and developers are parasites. I’m merely a citizen who is afraid that Asheville’s hysterical response to change and growth is going to give us precisely the kind of growth we don’t want, when developers get fed up with the BS of doing anything in town and go build something in the county which is much more accommodating. I’m not afraid of urban growth because it has the potential to enhance and build the community. Obviously — downtown is made up of it. I am afraid of suburban growth, which will strip us of everything we love about not only the city but the mountains where she reposes.

    And I’m most afraid that relentless screeching from no-growthers like you will help chase development out of town and up the county’s mountainsides. You don’t and won’t see what sort of damage you’re doing, when what we should all be doing is working together to concentrate growth in the city to preserve the county and to make sure it’s the growth that will only build up the treasure we already have.

    In other words, no growth is not the answer. Good growth is the answer, and it’s the answer you refuse to see.

  35. hauntedheadnc

    “Sorry, Mountain Express, you’re usually ahead of the Asheville Citizen-Times, but this time, they’ve got the comprehensive story that answers all my questions.
    http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090607/NEWS01/906070339

    This particular location would be best used as a plaza or park, as I’ve said before, but a development that includes a public plaza seems like a reasonable compromise to me.

    However, if you shove the building aside to make room for a plaza, the building would have to be taller… And who can even contemplate the horror of a building taller than three stories. I, along with every other real Ashevillian, often have nightmares about ascending to the fourth floor and beyond.

  36. John Smolkin

    Chase development out of the city and up our mountainsides??? Are you drinking haunted? Or are you just tired? There is NO relationship between county development and city development. Besides, we already have a steep slope ordinance in place out in the county, as well as in Asheville. You seem to think that letting the development crowd have their way is the only way. You are WRONG. And I do not think you have the best interests of this area in mind.

    Slow, smart growth with a view to not impacting the orginal character of Asheville. That should be the guiding light here. I could care less what developers want, and their stooges in government who do their bidding over the interests of the city and it’s citizens. Talk all you want haunted, but it is obvious to all that you do have some stake in this, and it is a stake that runs contrary to the best interests of Asheville and Buncombe County. How about taking your marbles and going back to Florida?

    Besides, those in favor of more boutique hotels and more building, overlook one important fact. Our economy is at a standstill. It will be some time before we will have the growth that would justify turning Asheville into another Aspen. Thank God. Sometimes bad news has good unexpected consequences. The housing and economic bust happened at just the right time to quash the over building of Asheville. Again, thank God.

  37. hauntedheadnc

    Why would I go “back” to Florida, John Smolkin? I’ve never been to Florida in the first place and have no desire to go. Your immaturity is showing again when you can’t rebut an argument and resort instead to shrill and nonsensical accusations.

    Again, I have no stake in this project. I already explained that. I also explained why the city should be courting and guiding all the growth it can, rather than letting garbage sprawl to the compass points of the county.

    It appears I’ll have to explain something however to you that ought to be common sense. Let me sum it up: say you’ve got a city where the citizens, most of whom moved here from somewhere else and thus are the growth they hate (an issue for another time), have made the process of building anything an endless, relentless, grinding pain in the ass. Say that city is located in a county that is much friendlier to development and a lot less picky about what it lets get built.

    As a developer, where will you build your project? Will you break your back designing a good urban project just to see a parade of shrieking hypocrites mob the city council chambers and shout it down no matter how much effort and sensitivity you put into it? Or will you just say the hell with it and go build a subdivision in the county?

    I’ll hum the Jeopardy theme song while you give it some thought.

    Doo dee doo dee doo dee doo… Doo dee doo dee DOO dee doodeedoodee…

    That’s right! You’ll say to hell with it, and go build something in the county! Thus, the relationship between city and county growth is explained.

    Or, if you need a simpler explanation here’s one: people living in condos or staying in hotel rooms downtown are people not living in houses and staying in motels in the county’s sprawl.

    Just admit it. You can’t handle change. That’s why you’re so miserable.

  38. hauntedheadnc

    By the way, before you start in, I’m not saying a hotel near the basilica would necessarily be a good urban project, or a sensitively designed project, so don’t bother. In fact, as I’ve said time and again, I think a park would be a better use of this particular plot of land and you really do make yourself look like an idiot when you keep accusing me of being some kind of shill for the developer.

  39. AvlResident

    ” . . .Quite simple actually, traveler. It will not fit in with what is already there. And being a high rise, it will over-shadow the church,and skew the entire skyline in that area. Now this may be de rigour up in the NE where you obviously are from, but it doesn’t go well here anyway. Asheville’s buildings should be low to fit in. 5 stories max.”

    This is the oddest argument, considering that the Battery Park Hotel (many more than 5 stories) is already adjacent to the Basilica. The Jackson Building?

  40. travelah

    I think a nice hotel is a great use for the property and more in line with downtown than a park. It is much preferable to a ragtag park. There is already a park at French Broad … start using it …

  41. Haunted I like your well thought out argument do not waste it on this “Smolkin” moron he is a puppet that keeps changing his name, but still squawks the same old tune ” I hate NE citys, transplants, dairy farms don’t kill cows etc.

    I think in actuality he lives in the county so I am not sure why we tax paying city dwellers would really care what his thoughts are on urban planning?

  42. LOKEL

    According to yesterdays Citizen-Times (a true bastion of investigative reporting), the “Basilica” is not entirely against the building …. they would prefer it to be 200 feet from the front facade of the church and would also prefer there to be some sort “green” aspect to the front of the proposed building …. so it seems the sniping is over ….. build it.

  43. John Smolkin

    LOL, huntedheadnc doesn’t like the fact I disagree, and with quite good points of disagreement no less. So he calls me “immature”. A law, huntedheadnc, you sure rile easily don’t you. We do not need another boutique hotel in town. There are already 3 approved by complient Council. Asheville needs to retain the charm that drew outsiders like you and the traveler here in the first place. For the sake of future transplant wannabes and locals alike.

    We certainly don’t need the advice of a yankee-come-lately like traveler on this issue. Traveler, sit down, shut up, and leave the decision making to those of us who are local, and have a real stake in the outcome. We do not want our fair town being turned into another manhattan or Aspen. Period. Don’t like it? Move back up north. Or in huntedheadnc’s case, back to Greensboro.

  44. hauntedheadnc

    John Smolkin, why do you keep insisting I’m an outsider? I know that I’ve told you already that I was born in Fletcher and have spent my entire life within 20 miles of the center of Asheville. I grew up in Henderson County, lived in Hendersonville for a while, and have resided inside the city limits of Asheville for about a year and a half. Both branches of my family, incidentally, arrived in WNC sometime around 1770.

    How am I possibly an outsider? And what on earth does Greensboro have to do with it?

  45. John Smolkin

    Well, apologies are in order HHNC. I got you mixed up with someone else, evidently. I do not understand, as a local, how you can support all this development. Think about it.

  46. Eli Cohen

    “Yes “Who”, the War Between The States is over. But there are clear differences between the NE states and the Southern states, attitude-wise and culture-wise.” Yes, Smoltz, differences like better schools, more sophisticated populace, etc. Yes, I know, evolution is only a theory…but even cities evolve.

  47. LOKEL

    Another Priest has been arrested in the child molestation sting in the Diocese and these folks are still worried about a hotel going up across the street ….. it shows you where the priorities of the church lay.

  48. bobaloo

    Yes, Smoltz, differences like better schools, more sophisticated populace, etc. Yes, I know, evolution is only a theory…but even cities evolve.

    Really? Given the choice of sending my kid to, say, North Buncombe vs. a school in Brooklyn, the choice would be pretty clear.

    But I don’t expect you to respond, you never do. You’re just a bomb throwing troll.

  49. John Smolkin

    “Really? Given the choice of sending my kid to, say, North Buncombe vs. a school in Brooklyn, the choice would be pretty clear. But I don’t expect you to respond, you never do. You’re just a bomb throwing troll.” Right on bobaloo.

    Anyone who thinks northern big cities are more evolved than Asheville either has never been out of the Bronx or is flatout not paying attention. It’s just too rich that a Nu Yoikah would move here then pine for home and keep on thinking NYC is better than here. If Eli is that way he should get back home. God knows we don’t need any more NY attitudes in this town. And we certainly don’t need “consultants” from Boston telling us to “build up” a lot of condos and “boutique” hotels.

  50. travelah

    LOKEL, perhaps you should hold judgment in spite of your obvious bias against the Catholic Church (I am not Catholic and quite opposed to them theologically). The lawsuit strikes me as potentially questionable and filed in NC because of the favorable ability to seek a claim here given the statute of limitations law in NC. The surviving accused denies the claim. The lawsuits mentioned do not seem to involve anybody connected with the Basilica today.
    Now, aside from that, the issue of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church really has nothing to do with this land-use issue.

  51. Eli Cohen

    “Really? Given the choice of sending my kid to, say, North Buncombe vs. a school in Brooklyn, the choice would be pretty clear. But I don’t expect you to respond, you never do. You’re just a bomb throwing troll.” Right on bobble.”

    The facts are: Schools in the south (actually, N.C. schools are among the best in the south) are the worst in the country. It’s merely your opinion that you would not send your child to a school in Brooklyn. In my opinion, controlled development of Ashville’s resources is a good thing. I also think the removal of that church would be a plus for the community. By the way Travelah, it seems odd you would defend an alleged child molester.

    Oh, by the way Smolz, I’m from Trap Hill, N.C.

  52. hauntedheadnc

    Thank you for your apology, John Smolkin.

    I’ve given enormous thought to my support of urban growth patterns. It all comes down to the fact that it’s ridiculous to think that you can stop people from wanting to come here or coming here. If you try to restrict growth, you only hurt the poor and the middle class as the rich will still want to be here and they always get what they want.

    Therefore, rather than fight growth, you have to advocate healthy growth. Dense, urban growth is healthy growth. Much healthier, at any rate, than suburban sprawl. Hell, downtown is the epitome of urban growth, so why not build more of it?

    Our biggest difference is that you think Asheville is perfect, while I think it’s not. There is no place that can’t be improved, in fact, and urban growth will improve the city.

    Therefore, throw open the doors to crowded sidewalks, plazas, parks, and squares, apartments, hotels, condos, shops, and offices… Just put them in the central city where they belong and stop chewing up the mountains.

  53. John Smolkin

    You are wrong HHNC. But no matter, the economy will take a while to recover, and in the meantime, there will not be the demand to support the over-building of Asheville. Thank God for unintended consequences. Perhaps those that want to make Asheville like where they came from will move onto the “next” cool place to over-build.

  54. travelah

    Eli, I would advocate fairness and a proper day in court for anybody accused of an offense. More important to this issue is to separate a personal animosity toward a religion from the issue of land-use at the site in question. There is no connection between the two.

  55. John Smolkin

    Why are you wrong? I have ennumerated the reasons in previous posts here. But here is a recap just for you. Over-development will change the character of traditional Asheville and make us a little Aspen. Aspen Colorado was a sleepy little mountain town until yuppies discovered it and thought it was cool. They moved there in droves to ski, smoke pot, and chill in the beauty of the Rockies. Much prettier than Manhattan. And the townspeople were so naive by big city standards. Easy to bamboozle.

    Boutique hotels sprang up along with lots and lots of boutique shops where the idle rich could spend their money. The result was very high taxes on property, high rent and housing rates. The locals had to leave as they could not afford to live in their home town any longer. Aspen today in no way resembles the traditional Aspen of yesteryear, except the views are still pretty.

    Hey it’s a free world isn’t it? The most “fortunate” amongst us who have either inherited riches from mommy and daddy, or screwed others out of their money, need a place to chill out don’t they? Why not make Asheville the next cool town to turn into a playground for the rich? Because the regular work-a-day people who were born here and have lived here for generations have paid their dues and have the most important reason to stay here. They have history here and have sweated to make Asheville the nice place to live that it is. To hades with the outsiders who want to ruin Asheville for their own selfish purposes.

  56. Stephanie Shannonberg

    I’m tired of all this construction around town. The last thing we need is another 3 year project to gum up our streets. No hotel.

  57. hauntedheadnc

    John Smolkin, so what you’re saying then is that you’re against growth that only benefits the wealthy. Why didn’t you just come out and say so rather than spouting off all that nonsense about height?

    Guess what, though — I’m against growth that only benefits the wealthy too. I am totally for affordable housing and better jobs, but I’d bet you anything that if an affordably-priced high-rise condo development was planned across the street from the basilica, you’d be against that too. You’re against growth and change period. You’ve all but said it in those words.

    You and people like you have a near pathological need to keep Asheville exactly as it is, complete with parking lots, derelict little stubs of buildings like the non-historic, unremarkable and unimportant little structures that stand where this project would be built, and with its deplorable housing and jobs situation. You’re threatened by any change at all.

    I, meanwhile, think that growth can be good if guided properly, and that growth should be guided downtown where it belongs. I want to see more jobs and more housing for the people who work here, not million-dollar condos for those who just play here.

    At the same time though, a “boutique hotel” (I do hate that term) is what’s planned here and I don’t see a downside to it. It’s not as though it would be replacing any businesses or residents, and in fact on that street it would help the businesses because more customers would be staying within walking distance of all those stores and restaurants. Would such a hotel belong on North Lexington Avenue? Absolutely not. Does it fit in with what’s on Haywoood Street. Absolutely it does.

    Again, urban growth is the smartest growth. Downtown is where new hotels belong.

  58. hauntedheadnc

    Stephanie Shannonberg, you’re tired of all the construction? That’s a pity. Unless you would advocate that empty lots, 1960’s vintage sprawl, and weedy, cracked parking lots downtown be replaced by mobile homes, which come pre-assembled, there’s going to have to be construction downtown at some point. Downtown’s existing bulidings didn’t spring fully-armed from the forehead of Zeus and neither will new ones.

    And don’t tell me that downtown is fine the way it is. If it was, it would not have empty lots, 1960’s vintage sprawl, and weedy, cracked parking lots.

  59. The Piffster

    “And don’t tell me that downtown is fine the way it is. If it was, it would not have empty lots, 1960’s vintage sprawl, and weedy, cracked parking lots.”

    I’ll tell you then.

    DOWNTOWN IS FINE JUST THE WAY IT IS.

    The only improvement to be made is to send the transplants back home.

  60. who

    Won’t a park cost more tax dollars, and not generate any? Is it always true that development puts the city’s taxes higher? In the 90’s, I lived in a city that was in terrible decline. It was dangerous to walk outside and good, solid homes lost value. That city is now revitalized again. Young families are buying homes in the city again. I don’t know all the particulars, but the city bought a minor league baseball team, built a stadium, and turned an “old school” department store building into a convention center. They also have industry. There are over 300 million people in this country. It is changing everywhere, not just here in Asheville. Hauntedheadnc has made the most sense, in my view. A simple no growth/no development, get out of Asheville stance isn’t helpfull. And the environment issue shouldn’t trump the human issue, though it often seems to lately. If people don’t have jobs and are in a continuous survival/ stress mode they won’t have the energy for environmentally concious behaviour: hence Maslow’s Pyramid. The environment doesn’t fare well in third world counties and this country could become one if a large population can’t get their basic needs met. I am for smart, environmentally concious development that can also bring people jobs. If hoards of people are in economic misery we can kiss the environment goodbye. And by the way, the Indigo looks like an eyesore now, but it isn’t finished. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  61. hauntedheadnc

    Hey Piffy, why should downtown land remain wasted on poorly-maintained surface parking lots, empty lots, and bad buildings that aren’t that old and which no one would miss or mourn if they were replaced?

    I’d really love to hear your justification for bad land usage downtown.

  62. John Smolkin

    Hauntedheadnc, I have a comment about this too. I love Asheville just the way it is. A cool, friendly town with historic old buildings and great architecture. So what if there is an occasional empty lot? It reminds us that this town is not Manhattan,but a small Southern City that is not gentrified and has no “airs” to put on. Heck, I’d love to see an old singlewide trailer put on that spot to illustrate that many of us are not high income yuppies…and to irritate the transplants. -:)

  63. Piffy!

    will one of you damn people please tell me if the awesome cherry trees will be spared?

  64. hauntedheadnc

    Smolkin, even if every last square foot of land downtown was put to its highest, best use, Asheville would still not resemble Manhattan. Hyperbole has its place, but when you keep using it in that context, you just sound silly. Honestly — downtown should retain bad buildings, surface parking, and waste ground because you’re threatened by change?

    No. Are you telling me you like that commercial sprawl near the tunnel? You like the low-slung mid-1960’s sprawl of the South Slope? You like the medical sprawl of McDowell Street? You like parking lots? You don’t think that stuff should be replaced with decent urban growth?

    It sounds like you enjoy the things that downtown Asheville is NOT about.

  65. hauntedheadnc

    Alright, PFKap, get it out of your system so we can move on.

    What cherry trees?

    Go ahead and explain so you don’t have to keep jumping up and down and squealing like that. I imagine you must be getting tired.

  66. John Smolkin

    Hauntedhead, Asheville IS NOT AN URBAN center. And I do hope it never becomes one. No, I don’t mind the medical offices on McDowell. And I don’t mind a few restaurants on the other side of the tunnel. What’s your idea of the real downtown? More buildings like the BB&T;?

    The cherry trees PFK is referring to are the ones she smokes herbs under when everyone else is working. It’ll stunt your growth girl!

  67. hauntedheadnc

    Smolkin, I’m not talking about the stuff on the other side of the tunnel from downtown. I’m talking about stuff like Oak Plaza and all that other garbage as the College ascends the hill. If you like all that crap and that along McDowell Street, as much as you were telling me to “go back where you came from,” it really sounds like you’d be happier elsewhere. Asheville isn’t about sprawl, but that’s what you like.

    And Asheville isn’t an urban center? It’s a community of more than 70,000 people in the middle of a metro area of more than 400,000 people. What the hell else would you call it? If you don’t like those figures, by the way, take them up with the census bureau. I didn’t make them up.

    You want my idea of a real downtown? More streets like College and Haywood and Patton with nicely-designed buildings one beside the other, the occasional tall building where appropriate, new parks and plazas, new public art, and people living, working, shopping, and raising their families right there in the middle of the city. That’s my idea of a downtown. It’s what we were building 80 years ago and it’s what we’re too chickenshit to build anymore.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m glad the likes of you weren’t around in Asheville in the 1920’s or else the city we love now would not exist because you would have held it back then just as you’re trying to do now.

  68. John Smolkin

    Haunted, I also don’t mind the office buildings, etc on the town side of the tunnel. And I don’t have to change, you do. The Asheville I love is already here. YOU are the one who wants the CHANGE it to something it is not. Why do you want to change things so radically? I am curious. You know you’d be happier as a human being if you were more accepting of what already is. Try it. If you had only traveled the country more you’d be more thankful for Asheville the way it is. Because Asheville is special. I hope it always remains so.

  69. hauntedheadnc

    Actually, Smolkin, I don’t have to change. I’m the one advocating good growth here, which is more realistic than your advocacy of no growth at all. And you’d better change your tune, too, because you and yours are going to be responsible for chasing growth out of the city and into the county. By making it such an agony to do anything in the city, you only encourage sprawl, which is easier to build and whose developers are only looking for a reason — and who already have a dandy one thanks to the Sullivan Acts. Why bother building a nice residential building in town when people like you are going to piss and moan until it gets voted down? Why not just skip that middle man and go throw up a subdivision in Fairview? When its swamped in sprawl, Asheville’s going to a lot less special than it is now. We’re already seeing it.

    YOU are the one holding back good change. If the Asheville you love is already here, then you must love an Asheville that is an overpriced, underpaid tourist town.

    Why do I want change? Because Asheville is not perfect the way it is, and if we opened the door to good urban growth and good change, it’d be a hell of a lot closer. I want a city where people who work here can afford to live here, by working good jobs in office towers and the industrial uses that fit well into a downtown. I want a city where families can afford to live in town, and where downtown is home to more than just rich Atlanta weekenders and the destitute in subsidized housing. I want Asheville to be a city of opportunity. Now tell me what’s wrong with any of that. You must know something, because that’s what you’re against.

    And finally, why on earth would you assume that I haven’t traveled? I’ve traveled enough to know, in fact that Asheville should not be striving to be another Atlanta, with a teensy downtown mired in mile after square mile of suburban sprawl. I’ve traveled enough to know that Asheville should be striving to be another Vancouver, growing up and where downtown is where everybody lives, works, and plays.

    (Note to those champing at the bit to point out that Asheville is not, and likely never will be, the same size as Atlanta and Vancouver: I know already, so save it. However, those are the extremes of what not to do versus what to do as a city grows.)

  70. who

    Well put HHNC, couldn’t have said it better myself. Change is inevitable: are we to be proactive in guiding it, or victimized and overwhelmed by it.

  71. hauntedheadnc

    Thank you, who. You would think that advocating good growth versus trying to stop growth would be the common sense thing to do, but no…

    I swear to God, if I had the money and time it takes to run a campaign, I’d run for city council myself. This city’s goes off the deep end whenever it comes to growth and development, and it’s high time somebody spoke up for guiding our own future rather than pushing it out to the county and letting the developers build one we really aren’t going to like.

  72. hauntedheadnc

    …And obviously, I go off the deep end a little myself whenever it comes to talking about this issue. At least, considering those typos I caught now rereading my last couple of posts… Ew.

  73. John Smolkin

    Haunted, if you re-read my posts, you’ll see I am not in favor of NO growth. I am in favor of slow, smart growth that doesn’t change the character of Asheville. With your desire to fill every vacant or paved over lot with tall buildings, YOU are the one who wants radical change. Your talk of Asheville as being an “urban” center advertises your own provencial ignorance in this area. If you want real urban centers, move to Atlanta, Charlotte, or Miami. Asheville will never be an urban center because we do not have a diverse enough economy to support one. THANK GOD! Transplants, find some other place to “develop”. Not here!

  74. John Smolkin

    Hey, the (PFK) changed his picture! A much more masculine pic PF, for sure. I’m glad you changed it, because I thought you were a girl, with the last pic and your writing style. Now you look like you went out for the wrestling team in high school. You go boy!

    Haunted, again, Asheville is the way it is. It will not become the “urban center” you envision it to be. I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you go up north and spend some time living in an “urban center”, say Baltimore or Newark. My bet is that after you have lived up there 6 months or so, you’ll gladly return to Asheville and be happy with it as it already is: a sweet small Southern city. May Asheville always remain as it is!

  75. hauntedheadnc

    Smolkin, deny it all you want, but Asheville serves this entire part of the state. It’s an urban center. A small one, but an urban center all the same. We don’t have a diverse economy, I’ll grant you, but that’s one thing I want to develop. What do you have against people born and raised here being able to find good enough jobs to let them stay here?

    It will not stay as it is, no matter how hard you wish upon that magic star, either. We can either have good urban growth or we can have sprawl. You are advocating sprawl by speaking out against growth in town. Slow, smart growth? How much slower would you like to grow — Asheville is only now building new structures because it finally ran out of historic buildings to renovate. That’s pretty slow. And how smart — downtown growth is smart growth, and yet that’s precisely what you’re against.

    You can’t have it both ways. You won’t have it both ways, either. Make it an unattractive enough proposition to build something downtown, and developers will happily chew up the mountains with subdivisions instead.

    Finally, two things. First, don’t put words in my mouth. I’ve stated repeatedly that I want more parks and public plazas downtown, so you can take your statement that I want to pave everything and shove it somewhere moist. Second, open your eyes. Asheville is not experiencing runaway growth by any stretch of the imagination. It only seems that way to someone like you who thinks that any growth at all is runaway. We only add a couple thousand people a year at most to our population. You want runaway growth — look to Charlotte or the Raleigh area, which add at least a couple hundred every day.

  76. hauntedheadnc

    Oh, and one more thing. You say you want growth that doesn’t change the character of Asheville.

    How then, are you against more tall bulidings? Did you not notice the Battery Park Apartments? Or the Jackson Building? Or the courthouse? Or, for that matter, the BB&T;Building, the Renaissance Hotel, Aston Park Tower, the Public Service Building, the Smith-Carrier Building, the Vanderbilt Apartments, the Medical Arts Building, the Woodfin Apartments, the Westall Building, or Asheville City Hall? All of them are fairly tall by our standards (the courthouse is the tallest courthouse in the state, as well), and many of them loom above their neighbors.

    Tall buildings have been part of the character of Asheville for over 80 years. If you’re going to speak out against more, you’re going to have come up with a better reason than that they “don’t belong.” The fact that I think tall buildings and urban growth, which we already have, are a good way to grow again, is hardly “radical.” Rather, it’s a return to the good common sense we used to use in our development patterns.

    Your demand that we sprawl instead and preserve downtown like a bug in a lump of amber is what’s pretty damned radical if you ask me.

  77. John Smolkin

    I’d like new buildings to not be as tall, or taller, than our old landmarks, so as not to overshadow them. Like the BB&T;building has done. In that way the existing character of Asheville will not be changed. It is our older architecture that is a very important reason Asheville is good looking and draws visitors from all over the world. Build us up like we are Newark or Manhattan, and that ambience will be lost forever. Build Asheville into a diverse urban “center” and we will end up with all the problems an urban center has. Alienation and mistrust amongst citizens. Blight. Increased crime and drug use.No thank you. I’ll keep Asheville as it is. A small city where strangers smile and say good morning, especially blacks and whites.

  78. hauntedheadnc

    Are you trolling now, Smolkin? I ask because now you’re not just saying you want Asheville not to change, but instead you want it to be something it isn’t at all.

    A city where strangers smile and say good morning? Are you out of your mind? When has Asheville ever been that? We already have the problems of an urban center — crime, traffic, litter, blight, vandalism, drugs, gangs, and everything else, and the only people who ever say anything to you out of the blue are bums trying to guilt you out of your pocket change because almost a full one percent of the city population is wandering around insane and/or homeless at any given time.

    Small, charming town? You’re joking.

    I keep saying it, but you don’t seem to be listening. We ought to acknowledge that we are what we are, and build out future on it. We are a city. We are an urban center, and the more we try to ignore that, the more we end up with urban problems without urban benefits. It’s time to grow as a city and welcome new jobs and opportunities. Build as we used to and build up and build densely.

  79. John Smolkin

    You young brats define “trolling” as someone who consistently disagrees with you. Rather than call me names haunted, refute my disagreements with you. You know, I doubt you are local. You sound just like a yankee transplant. Well, if you want to make Asheville into what you left behind. MOVE back up north.

  80. John Smolkin

    Haunted: “A city where strangers smile and say good morning? Are you out of your mind? When has Asheville ever been that? We already have the problems of an urban center—crime, traffic, litter, blight, vandalism, drugs, gangs, and everything else, and the only people who ever say anything to you out of the blue are bums…”

    You and I do not live in the same town. Either that, or you are so enculturated with northern yankeeism you see things that aren’t there. Asheville does not have much crime. Now. But if the developers have their way we will have real crime,violent crime. Right now our crime rate is not high, not compared to big cities. And people do smile and say good morning here. If they don’t do ittoyou it’s probably because of that overly serious yankee scowl you have on your face. You know haunted, I think you’d be a lot happier back home where you came from. We will probably never get the New Jersey/New York out of you.

  81. hauntedheadnc

    Oh, for Christ’s sake… You can’t refute my arguments so you go back to accusing me of being a transplant? You’re hopeless.

    Poor thing… For the last time, I was born in Fletcher. Naples, technically, in the old Fletcher Hospital, now a nursing home, right there where Park Ridge Hospital is located now. I lived in Hendersonville from birth to age 2, lived in Edneyville from age 2 to age 23, moved back to Hendersonville from age 23 to age 27, and moved inside the Asheville city limits in April 2008. Both branches of my family arrived in Western North Carolina sometime in the 1770’s. My pedigree as a local is impeccable.

    I didn’t call you any names, by the way. I just asked if you were trolling because your argument does so many incredible contortions that it seems like you’re being contrary just to be contrary. That’s trolling.

  82. John Smolkin

    Haunted, I stand by my statement that you label “trolling” as anyone who stands by their argument. And I do. I love this town and I will not ever come over to your point of view, which I consider completely wrong-headed. It is obvious you are employeed in an industry that is wanting to over-develop Asheville. Real Estate or construction…which is it?

  83. hauntedheadnc

    Injection molding, actually. I work at one of the few remaining factories in Asheville.

    I love how you just can’t handle the fact that I too grew up here and have lived here all my life, yet don’t agree with you. You keep accusing me of being an outsider and when that doesn’t work, you accuse me of being a shill for the developer or the development industry in general. You persist even when I have explained explicitly that I think as much as ninety percent of the people in the real estate and development industries are parasites, and you persist even when I explain to you more than once that I was born here and have family roots that go back as far as yours, perhaps farther.

    I think I’ve won this argument. You can’t support your arguments and you can’t take mine down with anything other than opinion, and so you resort to attacking me personally. And so, we begin to go in circles.

  84. John Smolkin

    You haven’t won anything. My point of view is supported by most Ashevillians, even the newcomers. Your yankee views are in the minority.

  85. hauntedheadnc

    “Yankee views?”

    Thanks for proving me right, Smolkin.

    And I’ve had all that I care to of this little Virginia reel we’ve had going here. It’s run its course, and I won’t be looking at this topic again.

  86. John Smolkin

    Ok HH. You will not move me off my point, which I have put forward quite well, if I do say so myself. Runaway development is flatout BAD for Asheville. And over-development is in fact a yankee way of doing things. Just take a look at their areas.

    Slow, smart development with a view to not radically changing the traditional Asheville. Yes.

  87. Piffy!

    Wow, you two BOTH claim to be ‘locals’ but dont know about the MASSIVE cherry trees in the parking lot of the Basillica?

    its true, though. That is where i smoke weed whilst everyone else is working.

    everyone except cullen, of course.

  88. Piffy!

    [b]Hey Piffy, why should downtown land remain wasted on poorly-maintained surface parking lots, empty lots, and bad buildings that aren’t that old and which no one would miss or mourn if they were replaced?

    I’d really love to hear your justification for bad land usage downtown. [/b]

    that wasnt me. it was cullen/smolkin.

  89. hauntedheadnc

    How is it comedic gold, piffy? I mean, Smolkin may be a troll that you seem to know personally or perhaps one of your alter-egos (I don’t care either way), but do you mean to tell me that the arguments he put forth here aren’t those of everyone who has a screaming fit every time anyone proposed to build anything anywhere in town?

    And why would you ask about trees that aren’t anywhere near the land in question? Surely you would know the basilica parking lot isn’t going to be touched in any way by this project, so why even bring the subject up? Surely you’ve got a good reason…?

  90. hauntedheadnc

    And yeah, I know I looked at the topic when I said I wasn’t going to again.

    Sue me.

  91. PatD

    I propose something useful like a landfill, on that property. After all, we have plenty of garbage in this town. :-)

    ok, bad joke but it is 100 now PFKaP

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