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Flatiron Bdg. conversion plan tweaked, wins city OK
Monday, 01 July 2019 23:43

Boutique hotel to offer 71 rooms, instead of 80

From Staff Reports 

A revised plan to convert downtown Asheville’s iconic traingular-shaped Flatiron Building, completed in 1927, into a boutique hotel was approved by a narrow 4-3 vote by Asheville City Council on June 25.

Voting to approve the plan were Mayor Esther Manheimer, Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler and council members Vijay Kapoor and Julie Mayfield.

Voting against it were Keith Young, Sheneika Smith and Brian Haynes.

The plan presented to council on June 25 had been somewhat scaled back from the original proposal.

“Council members who voted ‘yes’ said they were convinced this was the best way to preserve the iconic building, Asheville television station WLOS News 13 reported later that evening. “The proposal includes a restaurant, retail spaces, commercial office space in the second floor, and 71 hotel rooms on floors three through eight.”In contrast, the proposal with which council was presented in May boasted 80 hotel rooms — and no office space. 

Council members who voted ‘yes’ said they were convinced this was the best way to preserve the iconic building,” WLOS reported.

“The developer pulled the application” prior to an expected vote at May’s council meeting “after realizing realizing a majority of council members would vote against it,” the TV station stated. “More than a dozen people spoke during (June 25) public comment period. While some people supported the idea, the majority did not.

“‘We did not and do not want another hotel that will not only bring more visitors to an already loaded marketplace, but also their cars, their cars which have not really been accounted for,’ one person said,” WLOS’ story noted.
 
Monday, 01 July 2019 23:34

With gentrification, tourism, city’s black population feeling left out?

By JOHN NORTH

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UNC Ashevlle’s Leadership Asheville program hosted a lively panel discussion that covered many issues, but eventually drifted to what were characterized as the concerns of some — perhaps many — blacks and other minorities in Asheville that they not only feel completely left out of an otherwise “connected community” of whites, but, through gentrification, they are getting a clear signal that they are unwanted here and should move elsewhere.


 The first session of the 2019 Summer Buzz Breakfast Series, held June 20 at West Asheville’s Crowne Plaza Expo Center, drew a turnout of more than 160 people — predominately white.


The program’s topic was to be “How Do We Build a Connected Community?” Also discussed was the question of “What Is a Connected Community?” Future monthly Summer Buzz Breakfast programs in the series will continue to deal with the “Connected Community” theme.


The program, centered around a panel discussion, reached a point where the participants seemed to agree that the overwhelmingly white Asheville likes to entertain the notion that the city is “diverse” and features terrific community connections, when, in reality, according to panelist Kimberlee Archie, many African-American residents and other minorities “don’t feel a part of this place or of the people” — and the city’s “diversity” is a myth.


“They (many blacks) feel there is no unified community because ‘it (Asheville) is all about tourism,’” a sector that they feel displaces them.


Also, Archie, with others agreeing, said that, with gentrification — and blacks continuing to dwindle as a percentage of the population, “people of color” are feeling as if they are being “pushed out of Asheville.”


Panelist Kenyon Lake lamented that Asheville is “one of the (few) places in the United States that has a dwindling African-American community.” To that end, he said, “There’s nothing for African-American youths” (to do) in Asheville.”

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