south_slope_2_the_asheville_map_2014Here’s an opinion piece sent in by loyal reader Inge. Over about the past five years, Asheville’s South Slope has seen a wave of new development, as craft breweries, restaurants and new retail shops have moved in. The next wave is the construction of 200 new apartment units.

A stand of about 70 tall beautiful old trees on the South Slope of Asheville is in danger of being removed. It is one of the last, if not the very last, undeveloped wooded areas in this part of downtown. The trees are tall enough that you can see them from various vantage points several blocks away, including from the intersection of Patton and Coxe Avenues, overarching the surrounding tall buildings. The trees provide valuable green space to this up and coming part of town, and they serve as a habitat for song birds that entertain passers-by and residents of neighboring apartment buildings with their beautiful melodies.

The trees are projected to be felled to make room for a six-story 48-unit apartment building including a two-level, partiallyunderground parking garage. The proposed building would take up almost the entire lot, propped up by two-story high retaining walls replacing the wooded slopes on the west and south sides. This will be an irreversible act and an irreplaceable loss of green space for downtown. It is sad to see this happening in front of our eyes in Asheville.

When contacted about this imminent great loss, several City Council members, a representative of the City Tree Commission, the Downtown Commission, DARN, PARC, Asheville GreenWorks, and the Sierra Club, all stayed silent or commented that they do not see a need or way to prevent the removal of the trees. Various city offices and the Downtown Commission have already approved the projected apartment complex.

Is that what we, the citizens of Asheville, want to allow silently? Surely, there must be a way to preserve this valuable stand of old tall trees. Can we pull together a group of individuals and organizations for the preservation of this piece of undeveloped nature? We challenge all readers of this opinion letter to speak up! We hope so!

Inge and Imke Durre

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9 Comments

  1. It's a Problem.. says:

    Asheville is going to have a huge tree problem the next 10 years or so. These trees are overgrown, choking each other out and will eventually start falling as they fight each other for sun and water. These trees just were not taken care of properly, like so many we are all surrounded by.

    As the buildings built in the 1920’s, the trees planted at the same time are now very old, and have been topped, untrimmed and are probably riddled with fungi. Another wet Summer and these are going to be crashing down in droves.

  2. Just plant a damn tree for everyone that is cut down. I’m sick of every wanna be hippie activist that moves from their sleepy little town to Asheville trying to stop growth. Change is good, and if they don’t like it, they can move to Rosman, NC where change will never happen.

    • luther blissett says:

      “I’m sick of every wanna be hippie activist that moves from their sleepy little town to Asheville trying to stop growth.”

      Beat that straw man hard, FDR.

      Once that parcel’s leveled and built up, it’s still going to be surrounded by crappy underdeveloped properties. I know people who’ve spent a lot of time looking at the South Slope for potential office/workshop space, but most of the owners are dreaming of megabucks from hotel/apartment developers who’ll slap up some more Charlotte-lite identikit buildings.

      Their property, their choice. But don’t kid yourself that the free market on the slope will deliver the kind of long-term growth that revived downtown, because the days when Julian Price planted trees for the greater good of the city are fading into history.

  3. It looks sadly inevitable that these trees will be cut down, because it will bring a blight to the area. It is disturbing to see mature trees cut down and saplings or shrubs or nothing put in to replace them. Keeping these particular trees may be a lost cause, but maybe regulations will be changed in the future if enough people speak up.

  4. I definitly stand for trees and enjoy them etc. I also respect that it is not a publicly owned space and just because you and I want the trees to stay, its not up to us, no matter what we do. Support the public parks, the parkway, etc. but I’m not walking into my neighbors yard and telling them not to cut down their tree because I like it, just like if this privately held land’s owners decide to do something with the land. Unfortunately land is bought and sold, and unless you (the author, and I who sympathize with trees as well) independently or as a group by the land from the developers and do nothing but keep it there for the trees, our hands are tied and we should respect that.
    You can’t get mad at the council either if they approve this. They can’t say ‘we understand you bought this land valued at $$$, but we are going to arbitrarily strike that value to $-0- because we want to keep it just trees’
    They should, under the same theory, pass an ordinance that all future privately held land cannot cut any trees, especially if you can see it from downtown.

    • Bingo, Mike.

      The Inke and Imke show are just folks who want their little piece of the world to stay the same—–on someone else’s nickel.

      • luther blissett says:

        That wooded space is a nice and unexpected bit of tranquility in the middle of downtown (just south of Hilliard, behind the 60 Coxe). It is also surrounded by a lot of crappy, under-utilized properties where the owners appear to be sitting on their hands and waiting to be bought out for an inflated sum as the South Slope boom progresses.

        It’s apparently easier to clearcut and slap down another shitty cookie-cutter block than it is to renovate or rebuild, which is a pity, but the era of imaginative property development in Asheville is long gone.

    • hauntedheadnc says:

      Very true. I love trees. I love them alone or in groups, and I especially love them downtown. However, it’s unrealistic to expect that downtown land to remain static and unchanged. Trees are great for the environment, but dense urban development is also good for the environment because it’s the most efficient, least wasteful way for people to live and work.

      That being said, downtown is not underserved with green space. Pack Square Park, Pritchard Park, and Beaucatcher Overlook Park are all close enough to do the trick, and the greenways aren’t far. I hope though that downtown continues to fill in, that we won’t forget the importance of street trees.

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