“When I say I literally have physical anxiety about supporting this project, that is real and true,” said Council member Keith Young, citing his concerns over a lack of affordable housing in the Riverwoods development. “A part of me really feels like I’m letting folks down by approving this project.”
2019 prediction: Town of Biltmore Forest will greatly expand its influence in county government by allowing trees to vote.
With apologies to Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a resident of Western North Carolina in possession of little fortune must be in want of affordable housing. In 2018, governments and organizations throughout the area tried to tackle the problem with a range of creative solutions.
“Demand for affordable housing is high because of the sum of our individual actions.”
Two lodging projects will be up for debate: a 56-room hotel spread across four buildings on Biltmore Avenue downtown and a 170-room project on Fairview Road in Biltmore Village. The first proposes to convert three historic houses into accommodations and construct a new five-story structure with a restaurant, while the second would build a new six-story building.
“Unless you are using the city and county tools and financing from either the city’s housing trust fund, the county’s affordable housing fund or some kind of funds from a taxpayer project,” real estate developer Kirk Booth told around 40 people at the Council of Independent Business Owners’ Dec. 6 breakfast meeting, “it’s not going to happen.”
The three parcels currently being considered for affordable housing are on South Charlotte Street, where the city currently has its Public Works Garage and Fleet Management facilities; on Biltmore Avenue at the old Matthews Ford site and on Riverside Drive at the “Ice House.” Up to 550 new affordable rental units could be developed.
Due to construction cost increases that made rentals infeasible, the Kassinger Development Group proposed a for-sale condo plan. Of 64 total units, 33 would be affordable, with the city providing support through a $1.28 million Housing Trust Fund loan and a $375,000 discount on the land itself.
A new Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity development in Candler will mark the organization’s first foray into constructing multifamily homes. The move is necessary, the nonprofit says, to meet the area’s need for affordable housing in the face of high land prices.
The resolution would commit city government to meeting all of its energy needs from 100 percent renewable sources by the end of 2030. A previous version also called for all energy demand in the city to make the renewable transition “as soon as practicable,” but this goal is absent from the language Council will vote to approve.
The Land Use Incentive Grant point maximum will increase from 140 to 200, with every 10 points worth a rebate of one year of city property taxes above a property’s pre-development total. But developers will also face stricter conditions when applying for LUIG money: The minimum period for which a project must guarantee affordable housing will increase from 15 to 20 years.
Community EMTs will hit the streets of downtown Asheville for a six-week pilot program to test a new model of providing community policing and response services.
At Asheville City Council’s upcoming regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 11, officials will consider a resolution updating council strategic priorities for the 2018-19 fiscal year.
“Creating multi-income, multiuse developments and requiring affordable units in new multifamily developments is a much better way of solving this problem and maybe actually helping some folks along the way.”
“We need city and county managers who, together with our elected officials, can tackle key issues and help us navigate this new reality called the greater Asheville area.”
“Most urgently, gentrification is creating a demand for buildable lots and houses within the city limits that is invading our historic African-American neighborhoods and displacing lifelong residents who have been here for generations.”
“When local workers can’t find housing they can afford and our less fortunate population — including families with children — is one rent check away from living on the street, this predicament has reached critical mass.”