Residents and representatives of businesses on Asheville’s South Slope are banding together to create a new neighborhood association. It’s another sign of the growth of the area, which over the past three years or so has seen a wave of new development. The general area runs south of Patton Avenue, east of McDowell Street and west of Biltmore Avenue, and it has become home to a half dozen craft breweries, new restaurants and several planned medium- and large-sized residential developments.
Representatives of the new craft breweries began meeting about a year ago to talk and consider ways to work together, says Mary Mayo, special events coordinator for Catawba Brewing and the key organizer of the South Slope Neighborhood Association. The South Slope has seen Catawba, Hi-Wire, Burial Beer, Twin Leaf, Bhramari Brewhouse and Wicked Weed all open in the area over the past few years, joining Asheville Pizza and Brewing and Green Man Brewing, leading some to dub it Asheville’s brewing district.
Local business also began meeting last year after Franzi Charen, founder of the buy-local movement known as Asheville Grown, brought them together to plan for the first Venture Local Fair. Charen, a downtown business owner, organized the event to focus attention on the importance of supporting local businesses. The fair was held on Buxon and Banks, the first time a festival event was held on the streets there.
Since then, residents and businesses have been meeting regularly, says Mayo. Other issues have popped up, including those more political in nature, such as an effort to save a stand of trees on the South Slope. In the last month, the group formalized itself by assigning a slate of officers and creating a steering committee. The group will work with city of Asheville urban planner Stephanie Monson Dahl, who is also the city staff liaison working with the Asheville Riverfront Redevelopment Commission, says Mayo.
First up for the South Slope Neighborhood Association will be defining a vision for the area that the group can put down in writing and present to the city.
“I think the general mood is excited and hopeful” about all the changes to the area, which include the construction of a major new apartment complex and the creation of a just-announced arts incubator, Mayo says.
But issues such as the potential loss of green space and building an area that’s welcoming to artists who may be getting priced out of the River Arts District are some the group may begin taking a more formal stand on, according to Mayo.
“I think parking is probably the biggest concern – what will happen with parking. And also just wanting to know what developments are planned and getting our arms around how things will change,” she says. “It’s more about us wanting to start a dialogue so we can say hey, this is how we would like things to go.”
The South Slope Neighborhood Association meets at 5:30 in Catawba Brewing’s rickhouse the first Tuesday of every month.