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Jason Sandford

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

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A large new apartment complex is under consideration for the Fuddruckers restaurant location on the corner of Charlotte and Chestnut streets in Asheville.

That’s according to the president of a local neighborhood association, Suzanne Escovitz, who has issued an email asking neighbors to offer up their opinions of the proposal to the developer, the Asheville Planning & Zoning Commission and Asheville City Council.

Kassinger Development Group has not yet acquired the property, according to the email, and the sale apparently is contingent on city and neighborhood approval of the development plans, according to Escovitz, president of the Grove Park Sunset Mountain Neighborhood Association. (See the full email below.)

Escovitz writes that the plan includes “several hundred apartment units” on the lot, as well as new ground floor retail spaces. There are green building elements to the construction, and a number of units will be set aside and rented as “affordable,” she writes.

It’s apparent that developers have been talking with city staffers for quite some time as they work out details. I haven’t seen any official development plans come before the full Asheville Downtown Commission or the Asheville Technical Review Committee for review. It’s hard to comment on plans when none have been submitted, though it’s not unusual for developers to hold meetings with neighborhood groups before making their plans known to the public. 

The growth and development of Charlotte Street was the focus of Asheville City Council in April when it voted to make the street more friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists. The “road diet” plan includes reducing the four-lane street to three lanes for motorists, with new infrastructure for bicyclists, as well as improved crosswalks and the lowering of the speed limit on Charlotte Street from 35 mph to 25 mph. These changes start at Charlotte Street’s intersection with Chestnut Street and go north, leaving the four-lane road in place on Charlotte Street heading south across the Interstate 240 overpass.

Here’s the full email Escovitz:

Hi to All.

The Fuddruckers lot on the corner of Charlotte and Chestnut has a buyer who plans to build several hundred apartment units on the lot. The planned development will have ground floor retail and several stories of apartments above.

However, it’s not a done deal……..yet.

The buyer, Kassinger Development Group, is a privately owned real estate development company with offices in Charleston and Asheville. Visit their website at Kassinger Development to view their portfolio of apartment developments. The sale is contingent upon Planning and Zoning approval and community support. FYI: Kassinger has already pushed all the right buttons in terms of green building, ground floor retail, a percentage to be affordable housing.

While the intersection of Charlotte and Chestnut is not part of our neighborhood, there’s no doubt that we will be affected especially if the proposed lane reduction on Charlotte (1 lane each way with a center turn lane instead of the current 2 lanes each way) happens. Additional buildings on Chestnut across from the Fuddruckers lot will likely be redeveloped soon, too.

There’s an upside to having more people living among the businesses on Charlotte Street which is that it will naturally create a demand for a greater variety of merchants that would be valued by our neighborhood. A downside is that Chestnut and Charlotte is already an extremely busy and often dangerous intersection; our neighborhood streets will be affected when people try to avoid the intersection by driving through our streets on their way to and from downtown.

Now is the time to let our Asheville Planning and Zoning department, Kassinger Development and members of our City Council know your opinions on the proposed project:

Planning and Urban Design Department: Todd Okolichary, Department Director, 828-259-5840 , toklichary@ashevillenc.gov
Kassinger Development: Payne Kassinger at paynek@kassingerdevelopment.com
City Council: ashevillenccouncil@ashevillenc.gov ( This e-mail address automatically goes to all Council members.)
Your comments are greatly appreciated.

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Jason Sandford

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

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33 Comments

  1. orulz July 24, 2018

    This isn’t a high rise. It’s right across from an apartment building that has been there from the 1920s. Concerns about a massive increase in traffic are overblown – apartments generate a mere fraction of the traffic that stores and offices do. I hope they build this one and something just like it on the old burned down Charlotte Street Ingles lot.

    The thing about apartments is that people actually live in them (not tourists.) That is a good thing.

    Showing my true colors, I also wish they would have taken the Horizons high rise proposal on the Deal Buick site on Merrimon, and downsized it to something of this scale rather than building the single story strip center with Harris Teeter and such that they wound up building instead.

    Reply
  2. Brian Danner July 22, 2018

    Do not get rid of more roads for access to people who want to waste their time on bikes. This will increase traffic. Just say no to bikes on any road. More bikes will end in more people getting hurt.

    Reply
  3. Ken July 16, 2018

    People say that they support affordable housing, and say that they support additional housing being built, but when anyone proposes a multi-unit project to be built in or near their neighborhood, they oppose it. This happens over and over and over again.

    This is unfortunate. We should be supporting new apartment complexes and multi-unit housing (most of the time, anyway). Adding new units is the best way to slow the rise of housing costs.

    Reply
  4. Barry Summers July 12, 2018

    Damn. I was looking forward to seeing if that scene from Idiocracy would really happen.

    Reply
  5. Not in my backyard! July 11, 2018

    No apartments please! I have lived here since birth. Shame on city officials! They have no regard for locals at all. We pay taxes too! Let’s bombard the city council meetings and make our voices heard! As a home owner in Chestnut Hills I have had enough of seeing our neighborhood being destroyed piece by piece by chain stores, and poor decisions being made by the city officials.

    Reply
  6. Not in my backyard July 11, 2018

    As someone who has lived here since birth it has been so disappointing to witness the total disregard that city officials have for local residents who value family life in a peaceful neighborhood. I have been a homeowner in the Chestnut Hills area for 40 years, and believe me we have done our share of sacrificing chunks of our neighborhood to big industries. Enough is enough! Let’s have some rallies, show up in large numbers at the city council meetings…do whatever we can to try and stop this! Come on people!

    Reply
  7. north Asheville Resident July 10, 2018

    It’s already a mess trying to take my kids to school in the morning. They want to add density and take away access??? Not a good idea.May be time to move. Oh. But wait. Such traffic dilemma decreases my property value. Thanks Asheville.

    Reply
  8. Robert Burkhardt July 10, 2018

    Just. Say. No.

    Reply
  9. LFA July 10, 2018

    It’s all about the money. Consider it approved.

    Reply
  10. Chestnut Resident July 10, 2018

    This area is already backed up as it’s between two main roads for the city, Merrimon Ave and Charlotte St. I-240. I’ve lived in this neighborhood over 25+ years. Adding ANY more apartments to accommodate new people without jobs to support it is ridiculous.

    Our neighborhood is becoming unsafe for our families due to traffic looking for alternate routes when backed up in the evenings.
    If anything, widen the roads.

    And PLEASE stop lying about “affordable housing” when we all know it’s one or two units that’s modified for affordability.
    How are these hundreds of occupants supposed to get to and from work daily as there is no jobs within waking distance– MORE TRAFFIC.

    Asheville continues to cater to people moving here, without thought of how it affects the residence who’s always been here to support.
    GREED BY SOME DESTROYS US ALL

    Reply
  11. hauntedheadnc July 10, 2018

    I’m not opposed to the idea of this kind of development replacing the Fuddruckers. From the standpoint of urban design, a suburban-style restaurant with a suburban-style parking lot is awful in that location, just like the old Tripps was inappropriate for its urban location. The point of true urban design is to create housing that allows people to get to their jobs and amusements in some way other than driving. Theoretically, people who live in these new apartments, should they be built, should be able to walk or take transit to their jobs downtown or nearby. The problem we have in Asheville though, is the job market is so heavily warped toward subsistence service (servant) jobs, and the housing market is so heavily warped to the point that outsiders with money are the only ones who can afford it, that God alone knows what anyone living in these apartments does to make or maintain their money, or where they have to go to do it.

    Still though, I’m always going to support urban development over a suburban development that shouldn’t have been built in that location in the first place. I just hope that the developers will try to do something better than yet another Charlotte Boring-style crackerbox, with or without the standard oatmeal-can corner tower to add “character.”

    Reply
  12. Kelley Bon July 9, 2018

    No more apartment complexes! It is too congested already!!

    Reply
  13. Andrew Fletcher July 9, 2018

    I don’t expect to see this project at Downtown Commission, as the Fuddrucker’s location is not in the Central Business District.

    Reply
  14. Broadway Barney July 9, 2018

    Complete idiocy. I guess our local officials just think; “Let em’ build it. Think of the additional tax revenue!!! We’ll figure out the traffic issues later.” Charlotte Street and Merrimon Avenue are already a mess.

    Reply
  15. Walter S. July 9, 2018

    The city wants to keep expanding, building more housing for the droves of people who keep flocking here. To some degree, the city is responsible for luring people here, due to their advertising. But, housing is largely unaffordable to anyone who isn’t dirt-poor (subsidized) or super-wealthy.

    Also, of the people moving here who are still in the workforce, where are they working? I’m sure some are remote workers for employers based elsewhere. But, it’s unlikely that most are.

    For years, I’ve seen people post on LinkedIn something like: “Our family is moving to Asheville in two weeks and I need a job.”

    Aside from the obvious lack of forethought and planning, these people seem to mistakenly think Asheville is like many other cities in the U.S. where one can move, find housing that’s affordable, and hustle to get one of many jobs across a variety of industries. But, Asheville is not like many other cities, in this regard.

    Where do these people (that want to move here in a rush) get this idea? Might they have been hypnotized by all the advertisements by Asheville’s tourism board?

    What’s the end game? To turn Asheville into Charlotte, Miami, New York, or some other city that it’s not?

    I just read an article on the “Asheville Today” website where people were asked to list what they would like to have in Asheville that currently doesn’t exist.

    Among the items listed were Costco, some chain restaurants focused on salads, a waterpark, a stock car racing track, a Jewish deli, and, dear God, a Cheesecake Factory.

    There were also requests for more sidewalks, bike lanes, more jobs/opportunities, higher-paying jobs, more/better public transportation, and more/affordable housing. (I personally endorse these.)

    But, how does all of this happen without more problems?

    How can more people, more employers, and more chain stores/restaurants come here without more sprawl, more traffic, higher prices, more taxes, more crime, more traffic accidents, etc.? Obviously, it can’t.

    It’s similar to the topic of paying a living wage. Most consumers want the low-wage-earners to make more money. But, they don’t want to absorb the cost themselves. They want the store/restaurant owner to absorb the cost, therefore, in turn, lowering the take-home pay for the business owner. It’s just shifting the issue.

    So, in the end, there’s no magic solution that will make everyone happy. I think acknowledging and accepting this fact is a good first step.

    Second, we must decide what we want Asheville to be. Do we want it to be Asheville? Or, are we trying to turn it into another Raleigh, or Dallas, or Seattle, etc.? Do we care more about taking care of what/who is already here? Or, we just want additional revenue with no concern about long-term consequences? Is there a middle ground? In 20 years, will we even be able to see the surrounding mountains from in-and-around the downtown area? Will there still be any locally-owned businesses?

    According to a recent article on Forbes.com, Asheville rounds-out the list of markets that are in the early stages of a housing/real estate boom. You know what follows booms, right? Can we do anything to try and curb this? Or, are we totally helpless?

    It will be interesting to watch how things unfold.

    Reply
    1. Charles July 10, 2018

      Walter S, you can’t possibly be serious about your concern about Asheville’s growth. Have you been to Dallas, Seattle, Miami, etc.? Asheville will NEVER be compared to any of those large urban areas, not even Raleigh. There is growth in Asheville, and Buncombe County, to be sure, however the growth rate is much less than that of other cities and towns even here in NC, and not only that, Asheville does not have enough land suitable for development. Walter just simmer down…you’re are not ever going to see Asheville become a big metropolis, at least not our lifetime…no worries!

      Reply
    2. Charles July 10, 2018

      Walter S, you can’t possibly be concerned about Asheville’s growth. Have you ever been to Seattle, Dallas or Miami? Asheville will NEVER be compared to one of those large urban areas, that’s just silly! Shucks! Asheville is not even growing as fast as Greenville SC. There’s just not enough suitable land around Asheville to build anything on, and they’ve been fightin’ over widening I-240 since the turn of the century! So you just simmer down, no worries, you’ll never see Asheville become a big metropolis, not in this lifetime…

      Reply
      1. Walter S. July 14, 2018

        Hi, Charles:

        Okay, I’ve turned-down the flame from “Boil” to “Simmer.” 🙂

        Perhaps I injected a bit of hyperbole, as I would agree that we’re unlikely to have a High Five Interchange like in Dallas. I’ve not been to Miami, but I’ve lived in Dallas, Seattle, the Chicago-area, and several other metropolitan areas around the U.S.

        It’s just more sprawl, more chain stores, more traffic, more homeless and panhandlers, more land getting bulldozed, more cookie-cutter homes being wedged-in next to each other, less trees, more buildings obstructing the mountain views, and so on.

        Part of it is my bad luck, I guess. I should have been born rich, rather than good-looking. (okay, really, I struck-out twice) If I were wealthy, maybe that would reduce the sting . At least the rising housing/tax costs wouldn’t be an issue. But, of course, money can’t fix everything.

        I guess if I had to pick my ideal place to live, it would likely be in a Norman Rockwell painting. You know: smaller house with a front porch, swing, and white picket fence. Huge businesses would be replaced by smaller, family-owned businesses — butcher, mechanic (or, blacksmith, if I want to go waaay back), farmer, carpenter, etc. A town where most people walk or ride their bicycle and people say “Hi” to each other on the street.

        Obviously, short of me going to Fantasy Island, none of that’s going to happen. But, to some degree, when I first moved here, Asheville did feel smaller and more homey. Parking was easier, it wasn’t as crowded on the roads or the sidewalks, there were more locally-owned-and-operated businesses, and I didn’t have to frequently rebuff people who sprang from a doorway (where they were sleeping) like a jack-in-the-box to ask me for money. I found Asheville appealing as it was. I didn’t think: “Gee, you know what this place needs? A 25-screen cinema, a CarMax, and a 50-acre shopping mall with an indoor rollercoaster.” If I’d wanted that stuff, I would have remained living elsewhere.

        Anyway, tough nuts for me, right? Like it, lump it, or leave it. My desire and intent is to stay, as long as I can afford to do so and not become angry. I do like the area, the climate, and the people. I just wish certain things were more workable.

        I appreciate your reassuring note.

        “Thanks, I needed that!”
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEtcHdDyEvo

        Best regards,
        Walt

        Reply
  16. Krista July 9, 2018

    I think putting reasonably priced aparrments there would be great Asheville is growing and attracting more people. This area is near downtownbut not actually downtown.

    Reply
  17. Disappointed July 9, 2018

    I really wish they’d stop putting all these apartment buildings up. All of the new yorkers and south floridiots are coming to live here… 🙁

    Reply
  18. Bob July 9, 2018

    They need to worry about expanding the roads instead of building more apartments.

    Reply
  19. Hazel Ledwell July 9, 2018

    We need more housing for it.

    Reply
  20. Heather Davis July 9, 2018

    100’s of apt’s!!! Not a good area for this at all – restaurant/retail would be fine but don’t think these neighborhood streets can take that much more traffic.

    Reply
  21. Jose reynoso July 9, 2018

    hi there my name is Jose and I would like to know more information about your project

    Reply
  22. annie July 9, 2018

    please add a “share to FB” tab; please…

    Reply
  23. Joe sasfy July 9, 2018

    In the afternoon, traffic can back up on Chestnut from the light on Merrimon to Charlotte because of the 3 supermarkets, etc. The Chestnut Hills neighborhood is getting clogged with cars cutting through or just sitting at lights because it is trapped between 2 commercial corridors. Let’s hope the city doesn’t make things worse by approving a mega-unit apartment complex

    Reply
  24. Kira July 8, 2018

    Several HUNDRED units? I live behind Fuddruckers. I cannot believe the city would permit hundreds of units on such a small lot!! Or then again, strike that. I guess I would after all. If the price is right.

    Reply
  25. Faye July 8, 2018

    Several HUNDRED UNITS??? OH GOOD GRIEF!!

    Reply
  26. Jay July 8, 2018

    isn’t the speed limit there already 25?

    Reply
    1. Weavervilleman July 9, 2018

      Yes it is. That was phase one of the improvements to Charlotte street

      Reply
  27. Geneva Stapleton July 8, 2018

    I don’t think we need anymore apartment complexes or developments in Asheville. I was born and raised here and this is rediculious. Why not just leave well enough alone…

    Reply
    1. hauntedheadnc July 10, 2018

      Unfortunately, unless we put up a wall and start shooting people at the gates, we’re going to need more housing because people are going to keep moving here.

      Reply
  28. LoveFudds July 8, 2018

    Does that mean fuddruckers will close??? Do they have elsewhere lined up to move to?? I need answers!!

    Reply

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