More of what’s going around, including plans for new Market Street condos in downtown Asheville. This is all culled from last week’s meeting of the Asheville Downtown Commission:

-A plan to add two stories to an existing building at 17 N. Market St. and convert the entire structure into the home of 16 condominium units met initial approval by the Asheville Downtown Commission last week. The nondescript building, known as the Lawyer’s Building, is set between Van Winkle Law Firm and The Venue. Peter Alberice and Peter Looper of MHAworks explained the straightforward plans. The commission gave its unanimous approval.

 

-A meeting to allow the public to give input on the future growth of Asheville’s South Slope will be held Jan. 20 at The Refinery on Coxe Avenue. The event goes from 9 a.m. to noon.

-The city of Asheville received 11 responses to its RFP asking for firms to take on work to design options for the use of parcels the city owns on Haywood Street and Page Avenue. That’s according to Dana Frankel, the city’s downtown development specialist. A community advisory team narrowed those 11 responses down to four. Once a design team is finally chosen, it will work up several options for the parcels.

-A discussion about a proposed new bus shelter on Patton Avenue at its intersection with It began with a city transit planner telling the commission that it has money through the city’s recently approved transportation bond to make $500,000 worth of improvements to 29 bus shelters. The city wanted to start with the location on Patton Avenue because that stop has the highest ridership, the planner said. The plan is to use the city’s standard bus shelter design, which can be seen all over Asheville, and place it so that it is facing into the sidewalk because there’s no room to put the shelter behind the existing sidewalk and facing the street. Commissioner Pam Winkler kicked off the discussion by asking if a different, “more appropriate” design could be used for the shelter at such a high-visibility location. The city planner planned to use the standard option, the cheapest in terms of spending bond money. Outgoing commission member Michael McDonough suggested that if the city was planning to improve 29 bus shelters, why not put together a package and see out a vendor who could make a deal on a group of customized shelters. The city planner said it’s just not that easy. Peter Alberice, who was in the audience for the Market Street condo discussion, stood to represent MRK Investments, which is planning to transform the former Bank of America building on Patton Avenue into The Parisian boutique hotel, said his client is interested in playing for the custom design and construction of the bus stop because it will impact the hotel entrance. Developers want a bus stop that will “evoke the feel” of the hotel, whose design was controversial in its own right.

-What’s the status of The Parisian? When a commission member asked, Alberice said the developers are in the process of getting funding for the project. There are “a lot of complicated moving parts,” he said.

 

-Regarding the space at 68 Haywood St., most commonly known as the “pit of despair,” Frankel told the commission that there’s currently no plan in place to paint murals on surrounding walls.

-Regarding the issue of buskers selling CDs on the streets of Asheville, new commission member Andrew Fletcher, a musician and busker himself, asked if that was still a possibility. Frankel said the city’s legal department is currently advising that there’s no way to separate on-street CD sales from any other sale. In other words, if the city allowed buskers to sell CDs, it would have to allow anyone to sell any kind of merchandise. Fletcher told me after the meeting that the issue will come back to Asheville City Council’s public safety committee meeting on Monday. The committee meets at 3:30 p.m. on the fourth Monday of every month in the 4th-floor training room of the city Municipal Building.

-The new Buncombe County office building and parking deck on Coxe Avenue will officially open next month. It includes 1,000 parking spaces, with 150 to 200 of those spaces open to public parking during the day, with the entire deck open to the public at night. That’s according to Sage Turner, the new chairwoman of the Asheville Downtown Commission.

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