Here’s more detail on the individual projects that have submitted requests for funding through the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority’s tourism development project fund. Each year, the Buncombe TDA takes a portion of the hotel tax money it collects and hands out grants to projects aimed at increasing tourism in the county and putting “heads in beds.”
This year, the requests come as a proposal to increase the Buncombe County hotel room tax from 4 percent to 6 percent. Some residents also want to see a portion of the county hotel room tax set aside for projects that would address the impacts of tourism on the community.
The details under each project are my notes/summaries taken from the individual applications. Which one/ones would you fund?
-ABSCI: The Collider: $350,000
The Collider is designed to be Asheville’s world-class conference center in the heart of downtown. Located in the Wells Fargo building in downtown Asheville. Two components: The Collider Theatre and Collider CoWorking. Redundant 10G fiber optic broadband capacity with direct access to key federal resources gives the Collider the ability to move vast amounts of data for virtual conferencing, presentations and workshops. The Collider has more than 3,000 square feet of flexible meeting space.
-ABYSA: JBL Soccer complex improvements: $1.1 million
The proposed project is the replacement of artificial turf at the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex in Buncombe County.
-Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity: Volunteer Tourism Builds Affordable Housing: $75,000
Asheville Habitat requests $75,000 for its Volunteer Tourism program, which brought in more than 400 people from out of town to 2014. The money would go toward building more Habitat green-built homes for local residents.
-Asheville Masonic Temple: renovation: $500,000
The goal is to turn the architectural gem of a 100-year-old Masonic Temple into a year-round venue hosting weddings, corporate and nonprofit events, as well as music and theater performances. It can host up to 400 people at a time and offers ceremony and reception space.
-Blue Ridge Motorcyling Magazine: motorcycle welcome center: $500,000
The center will welcome motorcycle enthusiasts, offer visitor resources, such as maps and directions and will house the offices of Blue Ridge Motorcycling Magazine, a quarterly magazine targeting affluent riders.
-Brother Wolf Animal Sanctuary Learning Center: $500,000
Brother Wolf has acquired 82.5 acre farm in Leicester and is establishing a new Brother Wolf Animal Sanctuary. It will provide specialized care for orphaned dogs and cats needing long-term rehabilitation. It will be the largest facility of its kind in the Eastern U.S. and will attract visitors from around the U.S. The center will have separate classrooms and a 250-person meeting hall and commercial kitchen.
-Catman2 Inc: The American Museum of the House Cat: $350,000
Harold Sims in Cullowhee opened Catman2 Inc. in Cullowhee in 2002. It is the largest cat-only shelter in North Carolina. While there are several examples of cat museums across the U.S., Sims believes Asheville would be a prime location for another to honor the house cat, America’s most popular pet.
-Center for Craft, Creativity and Design: conference facility: $940,000
The core component would be a 200-person nontraditional conference facility and event center that will have state-of-the-art AV technology and fiber internet connectivity, as well as 3,300 square feet of general session space, 1,130 square feet of banquet/exhibition space and a 1,000 square foot rooftop terrace, as well as 1,200 square feet of reception/flex space.
-City of Asheville: River to Ridge riverfront destination development project $2.27 million
The vision is to create an outdoor recreation experience that connects from the Beaucatcher Overlook Park to the River Arts District and beyond. Asheville’s velodrome would be resurfaced under this project. River to Ridge greenway trail connection; French Broad River Greenway Network; velodrome rebuild; crosswalk and river access across Amboy Road at Carrier Park, as well as construction of a river access point.
-Colburn Earth Science Museum: Moving Science Education Into The Spotlight: $400,000
Colburn is moving into a new location on Patton Avenue and is seeking the money to continue renovation work.
-Friends of the WNC Nature Center: Front entrance: $313,000
The WNC Nature Center wants to relocate its front entrance to the level of what is currently parking area C. The move will increase safety and create a separate entrance for prepaid groups as well as new bus parking. The money would also go toward anew building with ticket sales, as well as renovations to itscurrent barn to provide new restrooms and exhibit space.
-Hickory Nut Gap Farm: Asheville’s Farm to Table Destination: Hickory Nut Gap Farm: $120,000
The project includes the rehabilitation of an existing big barn and concession area. Hickory Nut Gap wants to remodel for guests. The farm serves 40 local restaurant accounts and is growing at a 15 percent annual clip. It also hosts tour groups and events and wants to better serve those clients.
-Looking Glass Creamery: Urban Creamery Project: $331,846
Looking Glass Creamery is maxed out at its current location and wants the money to relocate to the Highland Brewing complex in East Asheville and expand production.
-Riverglass: Riverglass Public Glass Studio & School: $200,000 grant and $100,000 loan
The nonprofit Riverglass aims to create a new state-of-the-art public glass studio and school to be located in warehouses just to the north of the River Arts District. Riverglass would be an anchor tenant in the arts-oriented warehouse conversion project. It would offer continuous free demonstrations, classes and a shop.
-Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy: Community Food and Farm Visitor Hub: $30,000
SAHC was gifted a 103-acre farm in Alexander in 2010. There’s an existing community farm and entrepreneurial center there. This project would renovate an existing building into and educational and value-aded processing facility and meeting space for 150 people. There project would include an outdoor pavilion.
-YMCA of WNC: YMCA Multipurpose Community Fields: $370,000
Multipurpose community fields