Ashvegas Hot Sheet: Downtown Asheville homeless issue topic of Thursday meeting


Here’s more of what’s going around, including a neighborhood meeting set for Thursday to talk about the downtown Asheville homeless issue. Here we go:

-Asheville city officials, residents and business owners are planning to meet Thursday evening to talk about the city’s homeless problem. The littering, loitering and camping activity centered around the block of Patton Avenue that runs from its intersection with Anne Street west to its intersection with Clingman Avenue is the focus. Several organizations serve the homeless in that area: the Salvation Army, the Western Carolina Rescue Ministries, Homeward Bound, the Haywood Street Congregation and Beloved Asheville are all located in that area. The neighborhood meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Aston Park tennis center facility.

-Moog Music in Asheville recently announced the release of the Moog One, its first polyphonic, analog synthesizer in 35 years, JamBase reports.

-The Romantic Asheville 2019 calendar, chock full of wonderful photography, is on sale now, with 100 percent of proceeds going to land conservancy.

-Asheville craft beer writer Anne Fitten Glenn will talk about her new book, “Western North Carolina Beer,” at Malaprop’s Bookstore from 6-7 p.m. on Nov. 12. More about the event here.

-Little Jumbo, the cocktail bar on Broadway, has a new outdoor patio.

-Waku Waku, the Japanese restaurant on Merrimon Avenue, is planning to host origami workshops from noon to 4 p.m. on Oct. 21 and Oct. 28. It’s a free event and no registration is required.

-The city of Asheville wants your feedback on its proposed first Visiting Artist program.

-The city of Asheville has issued a request for qualifications for architectural design services for the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, one of Asheville’s premier music venues.


Das Drew October 20, 2018 - 11:30 am

I think the major reason for the increasing homelessness is because the “10 year plan to end homelessness” federal initiative expired in 2015. This initiative gave many of the local nonprofits the necessary funds to address and combat the problem. Now, not so much.

Also the decision to market the initiative as a means to eliminate “homelessness” is not exactly reality-based. The focus, at least from a PR standpoint, should have been to address chronic homelessness – which is a different issue altogether.

Enlightened Enigma October 19, 2018 - 1:03 pm

One great and swift solution, especially now, it for City to buy them bus tickets to the destination of their choice with the agreement not to return without employment.

jason October 19, 2018 - 11:40 am

The homeless are a HUGE problem downtown. They leave the area littered with trash, used needles and human feces on a daily basis. They harass women and young ladies, aggressively pan handle and intimidate people trying to enjoy the city. Asheville needs a greater police presence downtown to deal with this problem. These people should not be allowed to congregate on every sidewalk, vestibule or entryway and destroy this fine city.

BRO October 17, 2018 - 11:37 am

On a totally different note. It is insensitive and inaccurate to call people “the homeless” (much like we wouldn’t call people with cancer “the cancer”. Homelessness is a condition that can be changed – and should be. It would be fantastic to see some of the incredibly wealthy individuals who live downtown, and the businesses who serve them step up to solve this problem – which they helped create by driving property values up.
Did you know that about 35% of people who are homeless have mental illness? About the same percentage are veterans. about 12% have full time jobs.

This is a societal fuck up that we can and should fix.

Owen Evans October 16, 2018 - 2:37 pm

I do see that this is only design and study at this point, but I’m still disappointed to see more money and work going into upgrading the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. It was not built as a performance venue in the first place, nor will it ever be ideally suited for the job. At best, it will only ever be “okay”.

Cost estimates peg upgrading the Wolfe in the neighborhood of $30 million. Just “making do” with the Wolfe may seem like the fiscally prudent thing to do, but in the long run it will turn out to be penny wise and pound foolish. Instead, a new state-of-the-art center should be built somewhere else downtown.

For an instructive lesson as to why, look to the NC Triangle.

Raleigh spent a bunch of money on several projects for their very similar 1930s-era, WPA-funded Memorial Auditorium in the 90s and 00s, basically making the best out of what they had. It was OK for a while, but in 2008, Durham opened the far superior, purpose-built, state-of-the-art Durham Peforming Arts Center called DPAC, for $48 million (inflated to $57 million today.) That has simultaneously raised the profile of the Triangle in terms of what shows will come to town, while also taking the lion’s share of the bigger acts that would have previously gone to Raleigh. Memorial Auditorium is left with the scraps.

Now, the Triangle is big (over 2 million people) so there is enough room for two 2000+ seaters, and there _are_ enough scraps left for Memorial Auditorium to stay afloat. But in Asheville there’s only room for one. If the city spends money to renovate Thomas Wolfe, that sucks all the oxygen out of the market, and the city will be left with a facility that’s just “okay” with mediocre drawing power for the next three decades at least while that investment is depreciated.

Given Asheville’s chops as a tourist destination and the vibrant local music and performance scene, it already punches well above its weight in terms of the shows it can draw, and locals certainly already benefit from this – but really there is the potential to take it to the next level, and in order to get some of the bigger acts, the city needs a facility of the caliber these acts expect, not a barely-okay half measure.

Asheville doesn’t need to spend the full $57 million equivalent that Durham spent, but for not much more than the $30 million it would take to upgrade the Wolfe, the city can probably procure a brand new state of the art venue to be proud of.

As for what to do with the Wolfe, I would much rather see it turned into something closer to its 1939 configuration with a flat floor. It could accommodate banquets, minor sporting events, and be a second convention floor for the Civic Center. The convention market is something that could be much bigger in Asheville than it is right now, given proper facilities.

Don’t waste your money putting lipstick on a pig, Asheville!!

Craig H Collins October 16, 2018 - 2:08 pm

No, the City of Asheville does not want our feedback anymore — they have already closed the survey. There were 114 responses, the plurality from people 60 and older (of those who listed their age). The visiting artist had already been whittled down to 3 nominees — none of them from Asheville (hence “visiting”). “Why award $50,000 to an artist who doesn’t live here when there are so many talented people here?” would have been my feedback.

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