Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

Ashvegas: The City You Love. The News You Want.Some of what’s going around:

-Asheville City Council election update: Julie Mayfield, co-director of the Asheville nonprofit MountainTrue, has filed paperwork with the Buncombe County Board of Elections as she prepares a run for Asheville City Council later this year. Mayfield says she’ll make a formal announcement in coming months. The filing period for candidates opens in July. Three seats are up for election – seats held by Jan Davis, Chris Pelly and Marc Hunt. Another potential candidate, Rich Lee, has launched a campaign website and Facebook page.

-Towne Place hotel moves forward: Plans for one of Asheville’s (numerous) new hotels is moving forward. Asheville city planners had concern about traffic and pedestrian access to the hotel, which is planned for Elm Street. That’s a street that essentially doubles as an Interstate 240 off-ramp and intersects with Merrimon Avenue. (The property is adjacent to the Exxon Station that’s home to the 51 Grille.) Traffic on Orange, Liberty, Orchard and Charlotte streets likely will be impacted. The next stop for the new 5-story, 65,246-square-foot, 104-room hotel is Asheville Planning & Zoning.

-150 Coxe Avenue: Plans have changed for a proposed development at 150 Coxe Ave. on Asheville’s booming South Slope. The original design called for four stories of parking topped by four stories of residential apartments. The new plan removes all on-site parking.

-Plonk School redo: The massive building at 1 Sunset Parkway in the Grove Park neighborhood is going to be divided into two residential units. The building has had several uses since it was built in the 1920s, but may be best known as the Plonk School of Creative Arts. About the Plonk School:

The Plonk School of Creative Arts was the brainchild of sisters Laura and Lillian Plonk of Kings Mountain. According to a 1964 profile in The Asheville Times, Laura was a 1910 graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne College, did post-graduate work at the Boston School of Public Speaking and received a teacher’s diploma from the School of Expression, also in Boston. Her career included stints teaching speech in Kings Mountain and “oral English and Dramatics” at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts and at Curry College in Boston.

As befitting someone with her education and experience, Laura Plonk placed a great emphasis on speech and drama at the Plonk School. The school’s 1961 catalog suggests that “all the faculties of a child or a young person–mind, body, voice, spirit–must be awakened, trained and directed before a well-provinced and a rich and distinctive personality can be compassed and achieved.” In addition to reading and basic math, preschool-aged children were tutored in speech, Dalcroze Eurythmics, group singing, poetry and French.

Asheville Blade on political fight shaping up: David Forbes with the Asheville Blade reports that a big political fight may be shaping up around changes to the city of Asheville’s Unified Development Ordinance. City Council members essentially agreed to take on a UDO overhaul at its recent retreat, Forbes reported. A snippett:

If the current Council (or new members sharing their views) remains in place, the UDO’s successor would probably allow for more density in multiple areas of the city, with the hope of the more urban development the majority of Council favors no longer needing to go to them for approval at all.

But two years is a long time, especially in local politics, and if recent fights over development are any indication, that approach has plenty of opponents. Three Council seats are up during the election this year and three more (along with the mayor’s seat) in 2017, around the time of the old UDO’s 20th anniversary. Given recent defeats, one could see neighborhood advocates, especially drawing strength and resources from some wealthier, low-density areas with high voter turnout, organize to contest these elections and push instead for a UDO that even more strictly curbs the kind of development they oppose while fortifying against any possible intrusion on their version of local character. It wasn’t that long ago that a proposal to place a moratorium on all new development in the city had serious traction and given recent defeats, it’s entirely possible to see that political faction push back against the current Council.

 -Featherheads, Garage 34 shops in downtown: Featherheads at 56 Haywood St. is closing and Garage 34, located next to Nightbell on South Lexington Avenue, has closed its space and is moving into the Featherheads space in April or May.

-Where’s the truck? If you’re missing the classic truck that’s usually parked outside Pack’s Tavern on Spruce Street in downtown Asheville, have no fear – it’s just in the shop for some annual maintenance. Look for its return at the end of the month or early March.

-Mountain Housing Opportunities at work: Scott Dedman, the head of Mountain Housing Opportunities, posted this Facebook update about MHO’s current work (with photo of Leicester Highway construction site):

55 affordable apartments for the elderly, now beginning construction, called Villas at Fallen Spruce, near Walgreens pharmacy and Ingles supermarket in Leicester. Housing affordability depends on housing supply. MHO has 165 new affordable apartments under construction right now in Asheville, Buncombe County and Mars Hill, and 8 single family homes in Swannanoa and Weaverville.

-East West Pop Up Shop: The East West Pop Up Shop is set for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

This is a one day event just in time for Valentine’s Day. Stop by and enjoy thrifted, vintage, and reclaimed goods. Enjoy vintage clothing, upcycled furniture, reclaimed wooden signs, repurposed antique jewelry, letterpress cards, and more!

-Hopsicles: The Hop tweets that it is selling treats at The Gas Up on Haywood Road.

Peach Bourbon, Blueberry Acai & Banana Nutella “Hopsicles”!

Thanks to @mxnews and @mxeat for the shout about Hopsicles, which are now being sold at @thegasup in West #Asheville!

-Idol Mustang: Caleb Johnson, last year’s American Idol winner, was in Asheville on Monday to pick up a new Ford Mustang that was part of his winnings, tweets @LLSChatter.

-Job alert: Blue Ridge Outdoors is hiring.

-Thom Tillis and handwashing: North Carolina’s new U.S. Senator doesn’t think restaurant workers should be required to wash their hands before serving you food. (Thanks for the heads-up loyal reader Thomas.)

-Lunch and brunch: Being served now at Sovereign Remedies.

-Big Ivy/Forest Service meeting: The meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday at Big Ivy Community Center:

Please join us, Friends of Big Ivy, and the U.S. Forest Service this Thursday, Feb. 5th at the Big Ivy Community Center in Barnardsville for an open questions / answers meeting about the proposed logging in the Big Ivy area of Pisgah National Forest. This area is a crown jewel of Pisgah, with over 10,000 acres of wildlands that include the highest mountain range east of the Mississippi River. It contains the third highest density of rare species in the region and over 3,000 acres of old-growth forest. Please come out and support your National Forest and help convince the forest service to remove the Big Ivy area from their proposed commercial logging plans.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

You Might also Like


  1. Roe February 6, 2015


    I agree with you but for the record MHO built the parking lot across from the Glen Rock to provide parking for their apartments. This lot also provides additional parking for that area…Just saying.

    1. Sean February 6, 2015

      That it does. But it isn’t enough. I guess in all my ranting, I failed to talk about the lack of foresight. That is what I am really irritated about. Is there plenty of parking in the Coxe/Hilliard area now? Most days, yes. But it has declined in just the past few months. Yes, this is one building. But if the trend continues in this fashion, it will be a problem in the next few years.

      I guess that I have never understood a philosophy that is so contrary to reality. I recall when the old JC Penney’s building was renovated on Haywood Street, and use of the Rankin Street parking deck was included.

  2. Santa February 4, 2015

    Um. Yes 150 Coxe Ave is most definitely in downtown. It is also an area that already has a significant parking problem. There have been many times I’ve tried to meet someone for lunch at Asheville Brewing on Coxe and we’ve had to go ditch it and go elsewhere because the lot across the street is private during the day as is the one on the corner by Ben’s Tune Up. It seems like there’s an announcement weekly of a new major project in that area with no parking. That area needs parking desperately. To build a multi story apartment complex with no parking is BULLSHIT.

    1. luther blissett February 5, 2015

      It is also an area that already has a significant parking problem.

      Are you physically incapable of walking a block or two from the 2-hour spaces on both sides of Coxe south of Hilliard right the way down to the light? I know it’s uphill, but seriously, that’s not a “parking problem”, that’s a “walking 100 yards problem.”

      1. Santa February 7, 2015

        Luther, you obviously aren’t around this area at lunchtime on a regular basis. Those 2 hour coin-op spots are all full at lunchtime. While I walk from the Haywood Park hotel area the people I’ve tried to meet up with have circled for many blocks and failed to ever locate a spot. As more & more hot businesses open up on the south slope with no parking, the problem is increasing exponentially. The lots that exist down there now all have tow-away warnings. I’ve been towed in the past and it is no fun.

      2. Big Al February 8, 2015

        I’m with Santa (rebel without a Clause? HeHe..), one of the first lessons I learned when I moved here six years ago was how quickly the street-side parking filled and STAYED filled on any given hour of the day after businesses opened at 9-10am. I have also been stunned at how few tourists AND locals know of and/or utilize the parking decks (except on weekends and for events) and prefer circling like buzzards for 2+ hours trying to get street parking right in front of the preferred business. Aloft is a good option, but walking UPHILL on a full stomach (and with a brew or two on board) can be a challenge.

  3. Velogoat February 4, 2015

    Design should accommodate people…Not cars. If you have trouble with parking, leave your car at home and try walking, biking, or public transit. Cars blow!

    1. Sean February 5, 2015

      I wonder what it is like to live on your planet. Is it nice there most days?

  4. Sean February 3, 2015

    Who needs parking downtown? Despite the facts to the contrary, developers and the City continue to approve these buildings with no parking areas designated. The result? Haphazard parking in the surrounding area, leading to more predatory towing and related headaches.

    Don’t believe me? Drive around the Glen Rock Apartments on Depot Street around 11 PM on a weeknight.

    1. Z February 4, 2015

      Um…that’s not downtown. People constantly bitch about finding parking downtown at if you actually take the time and effor to look there is lots of parking available. People are just too freakin lazy to walk up from South Slope.

      1. Sean February 4, 2015

        Congratulations on entirely missing my point.

        1. luther blissett February 4, 2015

          Then what exactly is your point?

          Developers drew up plans with four stories of parking deck for 24 units. The city approved those plans. Personally, the architectural fad to “build a parking deck and slap something on top” in Asheville seems lazy and detrimental to street-level space, but I’m not in the concrete-and-rebar box business.

          Turns out the developers don’t want to build the deck any more. Maybe they have different plans for off-site parking exclusively for residents. Maybe they think there’s no profit in building all that additional parking space with all the bigger “decks with stuff slapped on top” downtown.

          1. Sean February 5, 2015

            Or….since we’re in “maybe land” now, they didn’t want to spend the money on the deck and count on all on the on-street parking around them. Except, well, that is already at a premium.

            My point is that MHO built the Glen Rock, and are currently constructing the new workforce housing at Eagle and Market Streets (a location that is most definitely downtown) and installed or is planning to install little to no parking for their residents. In bringing up Glen Rock as an example, despite the hopeful intentions of residents there being multimodal, the sad truth is that the surrounding area is littered with illegally parked cars.

            With the development currently in process in that area, combined with what is planned, large structures such as this making no provisions for parking is asinine.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Stories