The Michalove Memo, pt. 2: Physically dividing Asheville’s Pack Place into two buildings is ludicrous

Jason Sandford

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

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Pack_Place1Here’s part two of a series of posts about dissension among the ranks at Pack Place. It’s taken from a memo that former Asheville mayor and Asheville city manager Ken Michalove delivered to Asheville City Council on Tuesday. Michalove, who was hired by Pack Place to serve as a consultant in December 2011, was protesting council’s decision to give the Asheville Art Museum $2 million in taxpayers’ money for its building expansion and renovation project. First post here.

Part 2:

Two Leases

I believe Council has been advised by the Art Museum that donors will not donate to the Art Museum if there is not a separate direct lease between the City and the Art Museum. I believe the major donor mentioned was the Tourist Development Authority (TDA). One, if you have asked the TDA for a written statement regarding this, I think you will find that is not a requirement of their grant. Two, Bob Oast advised the Pack Place Board, over a year ago, that any donor issue regarding leasing/donation protections could be easily resolved by adding one new paragraph to the existing lease between the City and Pack Place. Three, donors don’t care about leasing issues, they care about purpose and some care about having their names on structures.

A Direct Lease between the City and Asheville Art Museum is wasteful in terms of time and money; and, the idea should terminated and let the Board of Pack Place deal with the issues. Why should Pack Place, the Art Musuem and the City be independently paying attorneys to work out these issues? Why not take the simple approach….The Pack Place Board can sublease space to the Asheville Art Museum and the other Members, a simple and inexpensive process.

Physical separation of the building into two separate buildings

Let me draw you a simple picture of this potential mess as if it were your home…your teenager comes in and says to you and your spouse “I am taking the front door entrance, the hall way, living room, kitchen and downstairs bathroom for my personal use, you can’t come in my space without my permission, even if you need to fix the plumbing…you will have to use the back door as your entrance and take your name off the mailbox and the house. I will put in a new heater in the basement but I will use your electricity, ductwork and plumbing. I will live here rent free.

The Asheville Art Museum has caused Pack Place and the other Members the unnecessary expense of tens of thousands of dollars in time and cash to cater to their desire for a separation of the building and a direct lease…. I believe all of this being basically for one person’s interests. Separation of this building into two buildings is ludicrous and unnecessarily costly in terms of dollars, time and disruption.

You have no idea of the numerous complications separating the building entails. Just to mention a few…. a second main entrance, dealing with safety and handicapped issues, disruption of the flow of pedestrian traffic, disruption of other members space, separating portions of the electrical and mechanical systems, encroachment into spaces of other Members (i.e. the new floor of the Art Museum separated building is over the entire Colburn Earth Science Museum). The fact is that the Art Museum building will still not be 100% separated from the remainder of the Pack Place building.

Have you asked the Art Museum architect and/or Barbara Field if there is a simpler way to separate spaces of Members and what the capital cost difference would be? What would the cost of a new building be in another location?

Jason Sandford

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

  • 1

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  1. Chris June 27, 2013

    Having dealt with both the Asheville Art Museum and Pack Place several in the past, it was always very clear to me that it was Pack Place that had the inferiority complex and repeatedly acted like a child picked last to join a team. They never wanted to cooperate in any way with anyone. They made every single process more difficult than it needed to be. The need for an umbrella organization is gone. Let the museum operate on their own, absorbing the Colburn, let Diana Wortham Theatre operate on their own. Pack Place is nothing more than a name. Let the ego go!

    1. Asheville Local June 27, 2013

      The Colburn Earth Science Museum educates over 8,000 students per year; do you really think the Art Museum absorbing the Colburn would benefit the community??? If we’re trying to attract innovative & technological industries/jobs to the area, don’t you think we should start educating our children so they’ll be qualified for these jobs? The Colburn is an outstanding resource for WNC schools and an asset to the community.

    2. Vlad Emrick June 28, 2013

      “Pack Place” is the umbrella organization, so it’s not really clear to whom or what you are referring.

    3. Don't understand. June 28, 2013


      My impression of the organizations and how they work together is a very different one. Do you have any examples? I don’t see it.

  2. CraveRecords June 27, 2013

    Thank you for covering this, Jason.


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