Downtown representatives, transit experts and Montford residents discuss the various impacts of Asheville’s parking woes.
Safety and reducing criminal activity downtown closely followed homelessness among the top concerns. Survey respondents were asked to evaluate downtown in terms of how safe they felt. The average score was 3.5 out of 5 for perceived safety during the daytime, dropping to 1.9 out of 5 at night.
While much attention has been paid to the struggles of individual businesses that have borne the economic brunt of the pandemic, Asheville’s business organizations, which provide a critical framework for entrepreneurs to network, collaborate and market their wares, have also taken a hit.
“Whether you’re a private entity or are providing a public service, a 30-35% daily loss of staff is going to have a major impact on operations,” says Asheville Police Chief David Zack. “I think we’d be hard pressed to find another agency who is dealing with as many big challenges as we are.”
Of the various downtown bathroom options available prior to the pandemic, only the city-owned facility at 29 Haywood St. was available 24/7. Since it closed, unsheltered residents have very few options.
Outside of COVID-19, the top three business issues reported in the latest Asheville Downtown Association survey remain virtually identical to those of previous years: downtown cleanliness, safety and parking for both visitors and employees.
Slated to open on Saturday, Sept. 1., the lot will offer 100 new spaces with 24/7 access at $70 per month. Dana Frankel, downtown development specialist with the city, notes that there is currently interest in over 80 of the 100 available spaces.