Taking a chance on Asheville

Chris Hayes, in his letter [“What If They Don’t Come?”, July 30], asserts that he doesn’t “see the demand for so much expansion in Asheville … we need to slow down and hopefully prevent Asheville from having unsold building, unused housing, unrented retail space and empty hotels.”

I guess it’s an improvement over the evil-developer theme to instead worry about developers risking their money to improve downtown. After all, it’s the developers/property owners (and their lenders) who would suffer from the consequences of empty hotels etc.; I am not clear as to what if any negative impact there would be to Mr. Hayes.

The concept of risk capital is essential to our economy. Some [projects] will fail and others succeed, but in the process there will be construction, jobs, and new buildings and shops to attract folks to downtown. Rothschild said you buy when there is blood in the streets. This is exactly the right time to buy and build up downtown since property is a bit less expensive to acquire and a bit less expensive to construct (since contractors need the work). Hopefully, the projects being planned today will come on line during the next economic expansion. My firm bought five buildings downtown last year and are finalizing plans to change a dead zone in the middle of North Lexington to a vibrant mixed-use development with retail and condos. Time will tell whether we make or lose some money. More important, we are trying to do something for Asheville [and] have faith in our city’s future—and [we] see no need to slow down.

— Howard Talesnick

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