Ashvegas reader: Development on Merrimon Avenue is getting out of hand


Loyal Ashvegas reader Benjamin offers the following:

I frequent a business at 348 Merrimon and just found out the tenants were told to vacate the building within 30 days because it has been sold to be raised and to become part of a larger commercial complex where the Moe’s is being built next door.  I live in North AVL and this is getting out of hand.  I remember when Picnics was given hell for having a dancing chicken.  How have we gone from that to this?

It looks like Wildflower Studio, an eco-friendly salon, is located at 348 Merrimon Ave. I haven’t heard what else might be built next to Moe’s, but I’ll check. (Moe’s construction photos.)

This section of Merrimon is changing fairly quickly. Dough was built a couple of years ago on the location of another business, Compliments to the Chef, that was in a converted house. A giant billboard was also planted in the yard of another nearby home.

Just a little bit further south, we’ve seen the opening of Trader Joe’s and Harris Teeter in just the past few months. And there’s more to come next door to Harris Teeter, including a Chick-fil-A restaurant.

Readers, what do you think? Is Merrimon Avenue development out of hand, or is this a natural evolution?


WHM February 16, 2014 - 6:11 am

Man I’m missing that Deal Motors complex and the subsequent mattress “specials” were certainly worthy of the banners announcing them! I tell you I don’t think I’ve seen a converted Pizza Hut as nice as la carreta outside Gastonia either! And dang that strip mall with the thrice annual turnover; wowsers! It really had some soviet bloc style! I just hope no one touches the gem that is the “32 arrests no convictions” slot machine, uh, I mean “sweepstakes” hall! Heck, anything that I’ve ever gotten used to should never be changed period, ever. Full stop.

Anne Craig February 15, 2014 - 2:14 pm

Merrimon Ave. is getting out of hand, and, no, it is not ‘natural’ evolution! 3 food stores…all of them non-local chains all in a row, another crap fast food, chicken holocaust joint, razing beautiful old home/businesses. This is not neighborhood development…it is cancer. I don’t understand how City government let these developments go ahead. I live about 4 blocks from the eyesores in a neighborhood that values walking, biking, human scale like…it’s a shame our town is losing so much of its wonderful character and starting to look like “Anywhere USA’ in more and more sections of it.

Anne Craig February 15, 2014 - 2:13 pm

Merrimon Ave. is getting out of hand, and, no, it is not ‘natural’ evolution! 3 food stores…all of them non-local chains all in a row, another crap fast food, chicken holocaust joint, raising beautiful old home/businesses. This is not neighborhood development…it is cancer. I don’t understand how City government let these developments go ahead. I live about 4 blocks from the eyesores in a neighborhood that values walking, biking, human scale like…it’s a shame our town is losing so much of its wonderful character and starting to look like “Anywhere USA’ in more and more sections of it.

Max February 13, 2014 - 9:34 am

I would l

Max February 13, 2014 - 9:36 am

I would love if someone would finish renovating the old northside grill. What’s going on with that place?

joe February 11, 2014 - 4:40 pm

Give it a break. Natural evolution. For all you that hate it. I hear Hayesville, NC west of here is perfect for hipsters and hippies. Only has a city population of about 250. Go there.

Jake February 11, 2014 - 10:13 am

This is going to seem like a rant, but it ain’t.

I work down in Fletcher, and my usual commute is I-26. When the traffic gets very heavy between Long Shoals and I-40 (I know you seen it), there are 3 options. Hendersonville Road, Sweeten Creek, and Brevard Road. All three are perilous, but in the worst of times, Hendersonville is actually the fastest route, surprisingly enough.

Asheville is growing. There’s going to be pain.

JTC February 11, 2014 - 8:46 am

None of the people commenting on how merrimon was never a quiet street are even from Asheville. As someone who was born and raised in Asheville, right off of hillside and merrimon let me just say that merrimon was a quiet street, there have been a couple strip malls here and there but now its a total soul-less zoo save for the few awesome independent businesses that still remain (for who knows how long.) Commerce is great, job creation is great but those old houses that they knocked down were beautiful, that bit of woods was lovely to put more fast food crap on a four lane road that is already way too busy is just crappy for the people who actually live here. It’s growth and maybe we are stubborn but I dont want downtown or North Asheville to look like Charlotte or south Asheville. I think more positive and strategic growth could benefit all, if you live here and love Asheville we must preserve what we love about it, its uniqueness. Look at how west asheville and the RAD turned it around, literally nobody wanted to be in either of those two places about 10-15 years ago, let me tell you but they grew in strategic ways that honored Asheville’s quaint historic value. Jusss sayin’

Vlad Emrick February 11, 2014 - 10:33 am

“None of the people commenting on how merrimon was never a quiet street are even from Asheville.”

I’ve lived here 20 years. It’s no different today than it was then. What era are you talking about, the 1940s?

NFB February 11, 2014 - 10:53 am

The 1970’s — and well into the 1980’s.

Vlad Emrick February 11, 2014 - 10:56 am

So what we’re really bitching about are the people who let Merrimon be developed 30 and 40 years ago, right?

JTC February 11, 2014 - 3:18 pm

All we are talking about is positive, smart growth. That was my grand point, nobody is stoked on moe’s or chick-fil-a, I was stoked on the kitchen store something great could go there but it’s just some more worthless crap. You’re right Jake, lots of growing pain and that is my cross to bear. That’s my 5 cents

Jason February 12, 2014 - 12:23 am

“Soul-less zoo” goes a bit far, it is no White Horse Rd. Also no houses we knocked down. Where Dough and Moe’s are have been vacant lots since the late ’80’s when the houses that was there burned down.

ashevillain February 11, 2014 - 7:07 am


Big Al February 11, 2014 - 8:19 am

He meant razed.

ashevillain February 11, 2014 - 6:33 pm

Wow. You are smart.

Hilary February 10, 2014 - 6:42 pm

I have been laughing at the flurry of excitement about Moe’s coming to Merrimon. Moe’s is nothing but a chain, and the idea that this stirs any interest at all, other than perhaps disappointment at the lack of aesthetics on Merrimon’s corridor, is pretty amusing. Then again, I imagine lots of students will like it.

But we have actual Latino/ Mexican restaurants here, owned by real live Latinos/ Mexicans. Why not frequent those – frequently? There is really no substitute.

NFB February 11, 2014 - 10:57 am

There was a locally owned Mexican restaurant there up until it got kicked out and demolished for Trader Joe’s, but that was OK because it was Trader Joe’s which is a chain but it’s OK because it is Trader Joe’s. But Moe’s is different because it isn’t Trader Joe’s so now there is all this hue and cry about Moe’s being a chain.

weavervilleman February 11, 2014 - 8:27 pm

actually La Carretta is a chain. there are about 10-15 around NC, owned by the same folks

NFB February 13, 2014 - 1:40 pm

Thanks for the correction.

indy February 10, 2014 - 12:45 pm

B) Natural ecolution

Tony Zeoli February 10, 2014 - 9:33 am

I have only lived here for a few weeks, but visited the area frequently before that. I see how the new supermarket and Trader Joes on Merrimon has increased traffic to the area. It doesn’t look like there was much change to the traffic pattern on the road. With the double yellow lines that are not supposed to be crossed, I don’t know that people understand what their alternatives are to make a left into those parking lots when they are traveling north. I think it’s dangerous and there are bound to be accidents, if there haven’t been already. As the area continues to grow, that is good for jobs and the local economy, but the city must enact or invest in left hand turn lanes or do something to ensure that people can safely cross in front of other cars.

I don’t see how Merrimom loses any charm or anything. Those who live in the area will probably be impacted by more traffic on the side streets and that is an unfortunate part of growth, however cities grow. People build. Commerce goes on. Without it, you have a stagnant economy. Every major city has major roads that have businesses.

What would be nice is if the real estate developers who own the buildings they rent to these businesses would at the very least be asked or rewarded by planting trees or grass around these businesses to beautify the area. Probably not going to happen, unless required to do so, but it would be nice if some of them took it on themselves to make their businesses more visually appealing instead of just a parking lot with no greenery around the edges.

Kenny Armstrong February 11, 2014 - 7:06 am

I think there are rules about planting trees in parking lots (i.e. 1 tree per x spaces). Harris Teeter seems to have put in quite a few, which will look really pretty in a few decades and is a commendable investment.

I live off of Chestnut and, yes, the neighborhood has been impacted by higher traffic and the constant noise (and runoff) of construction. What’s better – abandoned lots and decrepit buildings or new investment? Because everyone misses NY Fashions, right? C’mon! Sure, I’d rather have a new city park than a Chick-fil-A, but let’s be real.

My biggest complaint about Merrimon is the utter lack of pedestrian concern. There’s no buffer between vehicles going 45mph and folks on the sidewalk. Walking with a toddler is scary. Also, we need more traffic lights, please. One for left turns into Greenlife, and one or two between Claxton and Luella’s for pedestrians. When you add new restaurants and salons, you need to add ways to cross the street to get to them safely.

orulz February 11, 2014 - 9:41 am

The problem of narrow sidewalks with no buffer has been a concern for decades. The problem is there is only so much you can do with a 50 foot right-of-way. Four 10 foot traffic lanes plus a 5 foot sidewalk on each side – and all of a sudden you’re out of space.

Years ago the question of widening it to five lanes with better sidewalks came up, but then you wind up doing so much damage to all the businesses along the street that you kill whatever character is left. So then the question of changing it to a three lane configuration with center turn lane came up. Traffic studies didn’t support that.

So that’s where we are now. The official plan is to generally maintain the same configuration and opportunistically make improvements as the corridor redevelops. The Harris Teeter and Trader Joes did that, to some extent, with better sidewalks and some turn lanes, but they missed a prime once-in-a-generation opportunity to put a left turn lane to Chestnut in.

The biggest corridor-wide improvement to the sidewalks that can be done without massive property taking IMO would be to bury the power lines.

I am honestly kind of surprised (and relieved) that developers haven’t abandoned Merrimon completely for the Airport Road and Long Shoals Road corridor. If you clamp down and say “You can never build anything new here ever again” that’s a big step towards the decline of the neighborhood. Most of the buildings along Merrimon that have been torn down are not historic, significant, or even attractive – so I won’t really cry over it too much. But if only they could get the developments right. Trader Joe’s did an OK job, Jersey Mike’s is kind of so-so, but Staples and Harris Teeter both show their rear ends to the street and are ugly as sin.

Vlad Emrick February 10, 2014 - 9:11 am

Aren’t many of these new businesses replacing…other businesses?

I don’t like the billboard at all but otherwise, what would people suggest is a reasonable form of development along Merrimon (which has never been a quiet thoroughfare)?

Lerjoy February 10, 2014 - 8:45 am

Unfortunately I think it is the natural evolution and it pretty much sucks!

It’s becoming south Asheville-esque.

FDR February 10, 2014 - 4:08 pm

At least in South Asheville they have the infrastructure in place to handle the traffic and new construction. While ugly it has to go somewhere but at least for now the roads in South Asheville can handle the traffic.

No more businesses should be allowed on Merrimon. That road has more fast food then Airport Road yet the roads are not brought up to date. Oh no, don’t widen the road it would be ugly. You can thank the hipsters and half backs for screwing up North Asheville. They thought keeping the road small would keep business away. LOL

luther blissett February 11, 2014 - 3:09 pm

“You can thank the hipsters and half backs for screwing up North Asheville.”

Trader Joe’s now offers an excellent selection of cheese to go with that whine.

FDR February 11, 2014 - 5:05 pm

Excellent selection of processed crap, like most chain stores. LOL

Big Al February 11, 2014 - 5:15 pm

What is a “half-back”?

smytty February 11, 2014 - 7:43 pm

New Yorkers move to Florida and move halfway back.

Jeremiah February 10, 2014 - 8:32 am

We want commerce! We want jobs! We want more diversity! We embrace change! We love to see our town grow – bring on a flood of creative, progressive minds! A rising ride lifts all boats!*

*Not if it inconveniences me in the slightest. Because, fuck that.

smytty February 10, 2014 - 9:38 am

I live in North Asheville, and for the most part avoid Merrimon. If “inconvenience” is your problem with it, try Charlotte Street, Broadway, I-26, Riverside, etc.

Is it an eye-sore? Sure, but mostly because everything is still under construction. Merrimon was never a quaint neighborhood road – at least not in the 17 years that I’ve been around. I also don’t really see it as changing all that much. Before the TD Bank and Jersey Mike’s across from the Pizza and Brewery, there was a Burger King. Before the McDonald’s there was (strange) and older McDonald’s. Things are being modernized and there’s more traffic. Not the end of the universe.

Still nicer than Hendersonville Rd. Blerg.

Jeremiah Smith February 10, 2014 - 11:04 am

Clearly the sarcasm of that statement wasn’t as apparent as I would have thought.

smytty February 11, 2014 - 11:02 am

I got your sarcasm. I was just pointing out that is also isn’t inconvenient. Or anything new.

JT February 10, 2014 - 12:02 pm

Do these people seriously want Merrimon Ave to be sleepy and quaint?
The building is currently a house that has been split up into business suites, and it is going to be replaced by a building that is purpose-built for business use.
Why someone would think that is cause for alarm is beyond me.

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