Jeremy Goldstein and his co-workers at G/M Property Group have been doing deals on Asheville’s South Slope for the past several years. But it’s only been over the past couple of years that momentum has really picked up on south side of Asheville’s central business district, and that people have even been referring to the area as the “South Slope.”
The area roughly bordered by Patton Avenue to the north, Biltmore Avenue to the east and French Broad Avenue to the west. It extends south to the sprawling Mission Health campus. Development has been bubbling up there for about the past six years, with The Prospect bar, the French Broad Chocolate Factory, Green Man Brewing, Eagle’s Nest Outfitters and Asheville Hardware all opening on Buxton Avenue.
In just the past two years, the area has exploded with new development. Here’s the list: Twin Leaf Brewing on Coxe Avenue; Wicked Weed Brewing’s Funkatorium tasting room across the street from Twin Leaf on Coxe; Burial Beer on Collier Ave.; and Vortex Doughnuts on Banks Street. There’s more to come on Banks, as renovation of the massive building that’s home to Vortex continues. Catawba Brewing plans to open a craft brewery on Banks; local Chef Elliot Moss plans to open a restaurant called Buxton Hill Barbecue there; and Public School bar has also announced plans to open there. Also, the Chrysler Building on Coxe Avenue has a new owner who has restarted mixed-use development there, with condos and new retail planned.
All the action amounts to millions in property sales and redevelopment in a relatively concentrated area that Goldstein knows well. In 1999, Goldstein (a Duke University graduate) started J. Harlan Properties in Asheville after working in real estate in Washington, D.C. He later teamed up with business partner John Menkis (who came to Asheville from working in the Manhattan real estate market) and created G/M Property Group. (The rest of Goldstein’s team includes Keaton P. Edwards and Thomas N. Calhoun.)
Goldstein’s company had a hand in helping Asheville Hardware move from Biltmore Avenue (the hardware store location on Biltmore is now Wicked Weed Brewing) to Buxton. He also helped French Broad Chocolate Lounge open its chocolate factory on Buxton. G/M Property Group was also involved in the Chrysler Building transaction, as well as the Dirty Jack’s (aka Green Man Brewing) deal. The G/M Property Group sign is also up on several other properties in the area.
Despite all the activity, Goldstein sees the South Slope development as “a little more measured” than what was happening leading up to the 2007/08 recession.
“In the run-up to the Great Recession, there were things didn’t make sense to us. Things appreciated for the wrong reasons – just based on the anticipation of things continuing to go up. Lenders were falling over themselves to compete to get business,” Goldstein said.
In the end, “the market took care of itself,” Goldstein said. Looking ahead, there are natural constraints to downtown density, he said, including a lack of infrastructure. And there are new rules in place, such as a height limitation on new construction, he noted. Increased density in downtown will, in turn, help spur desirable amenities such as greenways and public transportation like bus and rail, he added.
What’s ahead? Here’s Goldstein, a member of Asheville’s Planning and Zoning Commission, on a range of other downtown developments:
-With seven new downtown Asheville hotels planned, does Goldstein see a glut? “I don’t think we’ll be over saturated,” he answered.
-Goldstein sees a need to further connect the South Charlotte Street corridor to downtown.
-Plans to develop the building that’s home to the Downtown Market on South French Broad Avenue and add residential units there will help bring more residents to that area, which will continue to grow.
-Similarly, the massive RAD Lofts development planned by developer Harry Pilos will bring a “critical mass” of retail and residential development to the River Arts District, Goldstein said. The area has also seen significant change and growth over the past few years and is poised for more with millions of new dollars earmarked for infrastructure there, and with New Belgium Brewing coming online next year.
Overall, “it’s pretty exciting,” Goldstein said, adding that he’s looking forward to seeing what’s next. “Cities are going to grow. The question is – how are they going to grow?”