The Michalove Memo, pt. 3: Pack Place is being torn asunder, and it’s happening out of public view

Jason Sandford

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

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Pack_Place_10Here’s the final installment of this three-part series regarding Ken Michalove’s memo to Asheville City Council. Part one here. Part two here:

Public input and information

To the best of my knowledge, neither the PP Board nor the AAM Board meetings are covered by the media. Consequently, the public does not get the benefit of media coverage.

A quote from a prominent citizen closely associated with Pack Place.

“The creation of Pack Place (PP) was an open, public conversation, complete with LOTS of private donors, public help from many sources, and even a referendum vote on the ballot to create this beautiful downtown entity and institution.  Seeing it all going through MAJOR re-creation that is mostly off the radar from the media, community and many stakeholders is very difficult for me. 

The value of this property & improvements is in the millions of dollars.  And here we are potentially getting ready to slice 55% of it away from the original PP plans, and give one non-profit exclusive use and control (not to mention millions in public funding) to the Asheville Art Museum)….but also doing all of this out of the public eye and with what appears to be a deliberate attempt to do so in order for the Council to try to satisfy everyone. “

I feel that Council has been provided only the Art Museum’s side of the story and that what you have been provided is likely biased, exaggerated and incomplete.

Pack Place entered an action resolution pertaining to the Asheville Art Museum and the other Members in 2003. That turned out to be a loosely written document that has proven to be a nightmare to implement.  Each organization has their interpretation of that document.  Keep in mind that each Member organization is represented on the Board along with a majority of the Board being at large appointees appointed by the City, County and Board itself.  Basically, the Art Museum doesn’t like having only one vote; and, they don’t want at large Board Members having the voting control.

Best example of trying to implement the 2003 Resolution was that the Art Museum Board held up paying for moving the box office for over a year because the Diana Wortham Theater and the Art Museum couldn’t agree to the definition of “moving the box office” as written in the 2003 Resolution.  In round numbers,  the Asheville Art Museum paid only about 20% of the cost of moving the box office.  And, that was only after holding the Diana Wortham Theater hostage, so to speak, for over a year. …


After considering the issues I have raised and that others may raise in the near future, if the Council is of a mind to provide 2 million in capital funds and pursue the separation of the building into two buildings, I feel that the capital funds should be given to Pack Place and used for expenses associated with capital needs of the entire building first, i.e. roof, mechanical systems, electrical, security and plumbing as shall be voted on by the Pack Place Board.  The entire building is in need of major capital improvements, not just the Art Museum.  Such expenses have been proposed to the Pack Place Board and are a matter of record.  The Asheville Art Museum needs should not come first.

Also, if it is Council’s decision to have two Direct Leases, the Asheville Art Museum lease should not be implemented until the buildings have been physically separated and construction completed.  And, all matters thereof approved by the Pack Place Board.  The City should extend the Pack Place lease for a minimum of 20 years and then amended it to mirror any lease between the City and the Art Museum. The City should have the role of management of the construction project and dealing with the day to day issues the construction will have on the Member organizations. The Asheville Art Museum should pay for all expenses associated with separating the building including but not limited the 2003 Resolution, legal (for Pack Place and all Members), architect and consulting fees of Pack Place, Diana Wortham Theater, Colburn Earth Science Museum and the YMI.

Pack Place is the Institution that the City and private interests created…the Asheville Art Museum is only a part of that Institution; Pack Place, the Institution and the Pack Place building, is what needs to survive as one entity.

Jason Sandford

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

  • 1

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  1. Blue and True July 1, 2013

    Thanks to Ken Michalove for shining a light into some very dark places. Let’s hope this leads to some serious questions being asked by the press and by our elected officials.

  2. light of day July 1, 2013

    Many thanks for making this public….it obviously needs the light of day to get the whole picture. where is the Mt Xpress and AC-T coverage?

  3. Peter Loewer July 1, 2013

    Will the Michalove Memo see the light of day at the Asheville Citizen-Times or will it be buried because it goes against the paper’s grain with its effort to support everything in view and investigate little–unless John Boyle does the work?

    1. Jason Sandford July 1, 2013

      Peter, reporter Sabian Warren is working on a story.

  4. never avert June 30, 2013

    He was a fine mayor – what reason would he have to lie?

  5. Different Perspective June 28, 2013

    Beg to differ. It is my understanding that the Art Museum’s plans include a demising (dividing) wall that would indeed create two separate buildings within the current Pack Place structure. You could no longer access the other organizations in Pack Place from the main entrance that faces the Vance Monument. The door would give you access to the Art Museum only. Sounds like physically dividing the building to me.

  6. Sideview Sally June 28, 2013

    Michaelove’s view is filled with many half-truths and falsities and should not be taken as gospel. And by the way the building is not being physically divided. Plans for the new museum have been published as early as 2008 and have not changed.

    1. Arts Lover June 29, 2013

      The Michaelove memo contains lots of accusations and opinions, but they are not backed up with facts and data. Some real public conversation, with information from all parties, is needed.


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