Jason Sandford

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

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A large mixed-use development currently in the planning stages would bring a total of about 600 apartments, as well as new office and retail space, to the booming South Slope neighborhood of Asheville.

Tribute Companies, a Wilmington, N.C.,-based development company, is planning to build on about 4.5 acres that sit between Asheland and Coxe avenues. Brian Cook, an architect at Asheville-based McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, and two colleagues, Lindsey Rhoden, senior associate at the company and associate Thad Roden, outlined the plans during a meeting at their Rankin Street offices.

About 550 apartments in a group of new 5- and 7-story buildings are proposed for the site between Asheland and Coxe. The project includes an 8-story, 1,000-space parking deck. Office and retail space will also be offered here.

At a separate Collier Avenue location just north (up the hill), the developer proposes to build a 5-story building with 70 units.

Back in 2016, Tribute Companies was planning to build a big apartment complex on property it purchased at 185 Coxe Ave. The property is a surface parking lot, and the company never followed through on those plans. Tribute built the apartment building at 150 Coxe Ave. a few years ago and has other apartment building projects in the works in south Asheville.

One key element of the project will be affordable housing. The developer wants to include units defined as “affordable” under city rules, but that is contingent upon the city awarding a land use incentive grant, says architect Brian Cook. The land use incentive grant program is an under-used policy for Asheville, one that City Council refreshed last year.  The goal is for 20 percent of the project’s units to be defined as “affordable,” says Cook. If the developer gets the grant, the 70-unit Collier Avenue building would be all affordable units, while the rest of the affordable units would be mixed into the big development down the hill to reach 20 percent affordable overall, says Cook.

The development team notes that the project is in the very earliest of planning stages and that details are subject to change.

Site design

There’s a 90-foot grade drop from the northernmost tip of the site on the Asheland Avenue side down to the southernmost tip of the Coxe Avenue side. Cook says they’ll use that differential to their advantage by pushing the 8-story parking deck back into the land so that from the Asheland side at grade, it would come up just two stories.

The plan is to face the deck with 52 apartment units along the Coxe Avenue-facing side of the deck, a side that actually fronts Federal Alley.

The main building, which is actually three separate buildings connected by walkways, will be home to 285 apartments. (This was Tribute’s original site at 185 Coxe.) The three multi-layered walkways or bridges connecting the buildings will be designed to offer an almost kaleidoscope effect to a viewer from afar, Cook says. Terraces, a water feature, pocket park and dog park are a few of the other features that help connect the development.

The pie wedge-shaped building along Asheland will have office space spread across two floors, with 100 apartments above. The other separate building along Asheland could be all office, or a mix of office and residential. Street level retail spaces, coffee shops, etc., would activate ground-floor levels, too.

Federal Alley could help provide a critical pedestrian link between Coxe and Asheland avenues, where none exists right now, according to Cook. Creating some level of public access through the development could then help link the South Slope to the Southside/South French Broad neighborhoods. One more thing: Cook says they’re looking at building an elevator into the parking deck so that a pedestrian at the bottom of Coxe Avenue could walk through Federal Alley, reach the parking deck elevator and end up on Asheland.

The developer plans to go above and beyond city requirements for trees and landscaping. Cook says there’s an opportunity to create a new urban forest on the southern end of the development.

The developer recently held a neighborhood meeting and plans to go before the city’s Technical Review Committee for an initial review sometime in the next month or so. The development team has had one meeting with the Design Review Committee of the Asheville Downtown Commission, and will do so again before going before the full commission. Then the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission will review plans and vote, a decision that is an advisory one to be passed along to Asheville City Council, which will have the final say.

The developer is Tribute Companies, based in Wilmington, N.C.; the architect is McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, based in Asheville; Sitework Studios is the Asheville-based landscape architect; the civil engineer is Asheville’s Civil Design Concepts; and the legal representation on the project is Wyatt Stevens with Roberts & Stevens in Asheville.

Jason Sandford

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

  • 1

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1 Comment

  1. orulz June 3, 2019

    Wow, 600 units at 20% affordable is certainly the scale of what needs to be done to address the lack of housing in Asheville.

    This reminds me of an enormous proposal years ago for a complex of six or seven buildings on Ravenscroft. This one has more units but the units here are probably smaller.

    They do seem to want public incentives for the affordable component. Not sure how that will go over. But we are sure to find who of the “no more hotels” crowd actually meant it, and who is just outright opposed to development.


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