With the downtown Asheville location of a new Duke Energy power substation all but a done deal, a new working group has been formed to work out details, an Asheville Downtown Commission member told his colleagues on Friday.
“It has seemed to find a home” at the corner of Patton and Clingman avenues, Michael McDonough, chairman of commission, said on Friday.
Ashvegas first reported back in April that Duke Energy was eyeing the high-profile lot, a former Hunter Volvo car dealership site. The property sits the western end of Patton Avenue’s downtown stretch, an area that is a gateway into downtown for traffic exiting off Interstate 240 as it travels east across the Bowen Bridge. The corner also serves as a gateway to the booming River Arts District.
Over about the past three years, Duke has been on an active search for downtown sites for new substations to serve the electrical needs of a growing city. Duke Energy hasn’t built a new substation to serve downtown since the 1970s, according to Asheville Citizen-Times reports.
Since April, negotiations with city officials and talks with concerned citizens and neighbors have all occurred out of the public eye. Those talks will continue in an organized fashion with the new working group, McDonough said, and out of the public spotlight. The group includes neighbors, nearby property owners, officials representing the city of Asheville and the River Arts District, and McDonough, he said. The group’s first meeting “was very productive,” he added.
“It seems like Duke is invested in welcoming input, McDonough said.
The working group process will last about eight weeks, with a site plan coming at the end of that period, he said.
The Patton and Clingman corridors, and the old car lot corner, are critical pathways, McDonough said. “It’s important that when they put their power station there, they not kill that corner,” he said.
Commissioner Dane Barrager asked if the new substation would be a gas insulated substation, rather than an air-cooled one like the one behind the Asheville Civic Center. McDonough said Duke Energy was exploring the possibility. The technology is more expensive than an air-cooled substation, but that technology allows it to be built inside a building, or walled off, he said.
“I feel really good about working group,” he added, noting that it included Matt Sprouse of Sitework Studios and another landscape designer.