‘Silver tsunami’ of retirees set to change Asheville

ASHEVILLE – Patty Mewborne Head still gets together with high school friends to ride by her old West Asheville haunts from time to time.

They joyride past the Malvern Hills Pool and the teen center — two places where Head can still remember dancing to jukebox hits and playing ping-pong with the “good-lookin’ boys from Arden and Valley Springs.”

That was a different time and era in Asheville.

It was the ’50s and ’60s, and Head could walk anywhere and everywhere — from her daddy’s store on Haywood Road all the way down to Hall Fletcher to watch the boys play a pick-up game of baseball. One ride around West Asheville takes the 70-year-old right back to those days.

“You could go down there and fall in love 12 times before school started again,” Head chuckled. “It was the greatest place in the world to grow up.”

Now, for Head and the thousands like her, the Asheville area is becoming the greatest place in the world to retire. Her generation is set to change Asheville in many ways — some good, some not so great.

While all of Asheville’s age segments are expected to grow in the next five years, a report released in January shows the greatest growth by far will happen among people between the ages of 65 and 74. That population segment is projected to grow an estimated 21 percent by 2020.

The report, conducted by Ohio-based Bowen National Research, a real estate market consulting firm, used U.S. Census data to make its projections.

The next fastest growing age segment in Asheville is among people older than 75. That population is projected to grow by about 15 percent in the next five years.

The aging trend exists beyond Asheville’s city limits.

The Buncombe County Aging Plan for January 2013-December 2017 estimates the number of individuals age 60 and older are expected to nearly double in Buncombe County during that time.

They will offer Asheville economic promise, but will also put a strain on services.

Her generation will help the community tackle issues head-on, but it will also find itself struggling to belong.

“There’s not just one picture of retirement or aging, and that’s what makes it challenging,” said Don Bradley, an associate professor at Samford University whose research centers on why people move later in life. “There’s been this idea that older migrants coming into a community are an unadulterated good thing for the economy, but it’s just so much more complicated than that.”

With the issue of housing, for example, retirees have been shaping Asheville home prices by buying second-homes at prices locals cannot afford. At the same time, the retirement-aged population is also one of the most vulnerable communities impacted by rising housing costs.

Housing

HURTING HOUSING VERSUS NEEDING HOUSING

After working in the real estate business for 35 years in Florida, Head decided about 10 years ago that the time had come to retire. She knew where she wanted to be: Back in West Asheville. However, when she began looking for places to live, the prices were just too high for her.

Today, they’re even higher.

Instead of a house in West Asheville, Head purchased a townhouse in Fletcher.

“It’s kind of like coming home,” she said.

But when she returns home to the mountains, she is also returning to her second home.

Head splits her year between Asheville and Naples, Florida.

She’s a second-home owner — a term many Asheville residents use interchangeably with negative nouns like “out-of-towner” and “snowbird.”

It’s an indictment that gives Head pause as someone who grew up in the mountains.

“I wanted to come back to the area even though I’ve been away for 48 years,” she said. “I worked hard to do this, and I had to give up a lot of other things to make it happen. I’ve never really traveled or done a lot of other things that other people my age have been able to do. To me, it’s a matter of choices, and different people make different choices. I chose Asheville.”

According to the most recent data available through the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey, about 4,400 people chose to move to Asheville from another state in 2013 — a figure that accounts for just shy of half of one percent of the city’s total population.

Don Davies, founder of Realsearch, an Asheville company that researches real estate trends, said the impact these older adults are having on the housing market is hard to miss.

Real estate research does not track home ownership rates by age, but Davies keeps hearing a common narrative from the people he hikes with on a regular basis. Unlike Davies, who has lived in Buncombe County for more than 30 years, his fellow hikers are new to town, usually retired and have moved to the area from a more expensive city.

“Where these folks come from, places like New York, D.C., Los Angeles and some parts of Florida, they come here and still think we’re a bargain even though we, the local people, think it’s getting too high. When I said that our house prices are getting really high, they will just laugh at you because $500,000 for a home is nothing compared to where they used to live.”

The median asking price of residences in Buncombe reached $330,000 in March, which means the number of houses costing more than $330,000 was the same as the number of houses costing less than that.

Skip Dillingham, managing broker at Century 21 Mountain Lifestyles real estate agency, said it makes sense that an area that is in demand has higher home costs.

“I’ve always said it costs to live in heaven, and we have a little piece of heaven here in Asheville,” Dillingham said.

While Head chose to retire in Asheville largely because of her childhood ties to the region, others are drawn to the mountain city first as tourists.

In fact, many retirement destinations begin as tourism hubs. Florida’s status as a retirement mecca can be traced back to the 19th century, when New Yorkers would flock to the state to escape their state’s harsh winter months, Bradley said.

“If you have a tourism economy, you bring people there and they have good memories of times spent with their families,” Bradley said. “When those people then reach retirement age, and if they are considering making a retirement move, they may have a limited number of destinations where they can imagine living. Among those places will be areas that they have visited and vacationed.”

But for other older adults coming to the region or aging in the region, their pockets are not always lined with the security of 401(k) plans or a large amount of discretionary spending.

“We hear stories so often about people who are drawn here by the arts and the reputation that Asheville has but it just doesn’t pan out for them or they don’t have a job. That happens with older people, too,” said Wendy Marsh, executive director of the Council on Aging of Buncombe County. “Not everybody who moves here is wealthy.”

According to a market feasibility analysis study conducted in April by Bowen National Research on behalf of Asheville’s Givens Estates Retirement Community, six low-income housing tax credit properties in Asheville have significant wait lists.

At Battery Park Apartments, a 121-unit apartment building in downtown Asheville for adults 62 and older, for disabled individuals and for people that qualify for Section 8 housing, about 150 households were on the waiting list in the spring.

Givens’ Affordable Housing Director Teresa Stephens said these needs are what is driving the development of Givens Gerber Park. The project in South Asheville aims to create 262 units of senior housing, of which 202 will be designed as affordable units for seniors who earn 60 percent or less of the average median income, or less than $26,000 annually. The remaining 60 units will be “workforce housing” for senior households that earn 61-100 percent of the average median income, or roughly between $26,000 and $45,000.

Stephens said there are also plans for offering supportive services at the housing development, including having an onsite primary care office, a community nurse and social worker available and a café where seniors can gather to socialize and also to work if they so desire.

“As more people age, we’re going to need more resources for them, more services, more housing,” Stephens said. “To me, developing a project like this is just common sense. Not all folks are ready for assisted living and not everyone can afford assisted living. When you read about demand here, the need is truly great and it’s only going to get greater.”

According to the Pew Research Center, nationwide, roughly 10,000 boomers will turn 65 every day until the year 2030.

That fact is one that Marsh, executive director at the Council on Aging of Buncombe County, recognizes.

The Council on Aging of Buncombe County is a nonprofit that works to provide services to individuals 60 and older. Marsh said the organization served 8,000 people during its most recent fiscal year, and has seen a 27 percent increase in people accessing them for help in the past three years.

“The older you get, the more opportunity you have to be poor and alone,” Marsh said.

However, on the other side of the picture, older adults can also provide a positive impact on the economy as well — especially in a tourist town like Asheville.

Economics

ECONOMIC PROMISE VERSUS ECONOMIC STRAIN

Bradley said older adults who are able to relocate to another city later in life, generally, tend to be more affluent and, by proxy, tend to contribute significant dollars to the local economy.

“Kind of a rule of thumb is that every two migrants to a community generates one job,” Bradley said. “They spend money locally, and it should stimulate the local economy, but that all depends on the local economy’s ability to capture that spending.”

In tourism-based economies, Bradley said, senior spending can actually help to counter a tourism destination’s seasonal economy by spending year-round and stabilizing the market. When the tourists leave, the seniors stay.

Before accepting a position at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, Bradley was an associate professor at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. There, he studied how North Carolina was affected by people who moved to the state later in life.

Between 1995 and 2000, Bradley said North Carolina saw a net income transfer of $1.1 billion solely due to the influx of older adults migrating to the Tar Heel State.

“And North Carolina should continue to attract a fairly large number of older migrants. It’s a favored destination state, from the mountains to the coast and all the urban areas in between,” he said.

But while this population can sometimes sustain a local economy, it can also strain it.

“The problem is if older adults remain in one place once their resources run out or if they become dependent on Medicaid, Medicare or some other state or locally funded program,” Bradley said.

Medicaid, a federal-state program, helps pay for health care for the needy, aged, blind and disabled, as well as for low-income families with children. Medicare, on the other hand, is a federal health care insurance program for people older than 65 and for the disabled.

Rebecca Chaplain, an aging and disabilities specialist at the Area Agency on Aging at Land of Sky Regional Council was one of the 13 people who served on the Planning Committee of the Buncombe County Aging Coordinating Consortium. The committee authored the Buncombe County Aging Plan for January 2013-December 2017.

She said she is already seeing the impact of the silver tsunami as boomers begin taking care of their parents.

“So many of our staff here are also caregivers. It affects everything from work performance to quality of life. With the boomer generation caring for their parents, they’re usually the invisible patient,” Chaplain said.

Feeling invisible is something that can also happen to people who move to cities later in life, especially if these cities are quick to judge their newfound residents.

However, the way these adults are able to mobilize in communities can pay dividends and can even do things that an area’s locals may not be able to do.

Community

COMMUNITY INFLUENCE VERSUS COMMUNITY ISOLATION

When John Wingerter and his wife, Edythe, looked for places to retire, Asheville represented an eclectic, intellectual and vibrant arts community where they wanted to be during their golden years. In 2006, after 25 years in Toledo, Ohio, the couple moved to Asheville.

However, about six years into his job-free life, Wingerter realized he was not ready to stop working. He sought purpose and he wanted to contribute to his new community.

“I tried retirement, and I decided I didn’t like it at all,” Wingerter said. “I just have to feel productive. I just wanted to do something more, and this opportunity presented itself.”

With 40 years of work history in the insurance business, Wingerter decided to put his skills to use and started volunteering at the Council on Aging of Buncombe County. Now, he helps his peers navigate the challenges of health care insurance as the nonprofit’s director of insurance services.

Wingerter estimates about 22 volunteers are currently helping the nonprofit with Medicare counseling sessions. Almost all of them are retirees. Almost all of them moved to Asheville from somewhere else.

“A lot of folks who retire here are very well-educated folks and they know how to express themselves, make themselves known and make their views known. They’re writing letters to the editor, doing community activities, volunteering with us and places like MANNA FoodBank, Meals on Wheels and others,” Wingerter said. “If it wasn’t for their contributions, the city would be a much poorer place.”

At Meals on Wheels, for example, about 38 drivers are needed every day to bring warm meals to local people in need. Many of the volunteers are retirees.

Catherine Frank, executive director at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, said this volunteerism makes sense because the types of seniors who are drawn to Asheville are not the people that want to sit around knitting on a front porch all day.

They may knit, but they may also kayak.

“So many of our members want to begin their retirement years with hiking, kayaking and biking,” Frank said. “Asheville is like a college town with UNC Asheville here, but it’s also a small city with some big city amenities that still has an intimacy you can capture. If you go to the Asheville Symphony, there’s not a bad seat in the house. In contrast to trying to see a symphony performance in Manhattan, it’s incredibly affordable.”

In 1988, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute — then called the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement — was founded on UNCA’s campus to help people “thrive in life’s second half.” Classes and lectures are given on a variety of topics, from acoustic music to stargazing. The most popular class, Frank said, is on Appalachian history.

Today, 60 percent of OLLI’s members say the existence of the center is among one of the primary reasons why they decided to retire in Asheville.

“They are here because they want to be engaged,” Frank said.

But sometimes that can be easier said than done.

When an individual moves to another city later in life, they are sometimes leaving behind vital support systems and relationships.

“There’s a social division that can occur, and older migrants, generally, do not tend to integrate effectively into their receiving communities,” Bradley said. “When you move into a community as a working-aged adult, there are a couple of key mechanisms that exist. If you have children in schools, you get to know other people that way. If you’re at work, you get to know people through those kinds of connections. Older adults don’t have those avenues open to them. They have to rely on other types of social structures, like church groups or clubs. And if they’re coming from a different region or social class, it only makes integration that much more difficult.”

Sometimes older adults can mean well, but their wants can have negative impacts on a city’s physical environment.

In mountain communities, Bradley said, retirees want beautiful mountain views. But with limited land options, the desires of this population can contribute to sprawl or building homes on mountainsides.

“If you think about a typical housing development aimed at active older adult communities, they are usually designed with golf courses and hiking trails,” he said. “Generally, these developments are located on the furthest outreaches of metropolitan areas.”

However, this population might also be the ones volunteering their time to preserve trails on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Growing as a city with a large senior population can be a delicate balancing act, Bradley said. For example, ageism might rear its head more in community debates even if seniors’ concerns are well-founded.

“If you look at places like Florida, there’s a lot of tension and push-back against older migrants there, and just the number of older adults in Florida in general,” he said. “I was reading through a story in Sarasota (about this issue) and the comments section of the article was brutal. There were plenty of ‘send them back’ and ‘we don’t need them’ sentiments. They can be an easy target.”

As a West Asheville native and a second-home owner for 10 years, Head recognizes the duality of her presence and what the growing population of retirees could mean for her hometown.

Though she lives here six months out of the year, she volunteers at Haywood Street Ministries every Wednesday when she is in Asheville.

“I can’t say I feel guilt for being here. I feel blessed and gratitude more than any other emotion,” she said. “This is home. Florida is home, too. I try to give back. I try to be a good neighbor.”

via http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2015/11/14/silver-tsunami-retirees-set-change-asheville/75107094/

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Is there a way out of Asheville’s housing crisis?

Editor’s Note: The Citizen-Times is hosting a community forum on the state of Asheville’s middle class after decades of dramatic change, at 6 p.m. Nov. 10 in the Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville. Executive Editor Josh Awtry and Community Engagement Editor Casey Blake will moderate a panel discussion featuring local nonprofit leaders, property developers and outside city planning experts. The event, sponsored by PNC Bank, is free and open to the public. 

ASHEVILLE – Lexy Rae Milton’s plan for her next move would seem simple enough.

She and her boyfriend have decided they’re ready for a place to share. They can afford to pay up to $1,000 a month in rent, though less would be better.

Milton tries to live on a budget. The West Asheville resident saves money by walking to her server job at King Daddy’s Chicken & Waffle.

But the apartment search so far hasn’t turned up much.

“Lots of places require proof that your income is three times the rent. Obviously, that’s super hard in the service industry, where most of your money comes from tips. I’ve been turned down already for three houses.”

Service industry worker and West Asheville resident Lexy Rae Milton sits down to talk about rising rental prices in her community.Maddy Jones/mjones@citizen-times.com

That’s Asheville’s affordable-housing crisis in a nutshell. People who work for modest to low wages have few options – and the future isn’t bright.

Even if all the policy recommendations under consideration by Asheville officials to alleviate the housing shortage go through, those strategies would yield just 2,800 new units by 2022. That’s one-half the 5,600 units the city needs now, according to Bowen National Research, a real estate market consulting firm hired by the city.

A January report from the Ohio-based consultant found a less than 1 percent apartment vacancy rate in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties. Asheville city officials paid Bowen $29,750 for the report.

Bowen researchers also found zero vacancies among 3,730 surveyed affordable rentals units, those being homes and apartments supported by tax credits and government subsidies.

“With the way things are going, is there a solution? I can’t see one,” Asheville affordable-housing developer Rod Hubbard said.

The Asheville region’s predicament mirrors that facing the nation.

For renters looking for affordable housing during the next decade, the U.S. environment is “bleak,” according to a study released in September by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

“Under nearly all of the scenarios performed, we found that the renter affordability crisis will continue to worsen without intervention,” the authors concluded. “Even if the economy continues its slow recovery and income growth improves, there are simply not enough quality, affordable rental units to house the millions of households paying over half their income in rental costs.”

During her seven years in Asheville, Milton has observed rents skyrocket.

“I paid $500 for an entire one-bedroom house in West Asheville when I first got here,” she said.

According to the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2014 median gross rent in the Asheville metro area was $807.

That puts the average apartment above what many consider affordable in Asheville.

U.S. affordable-rent guidelines as based on Asheville’s median income dictate, for example, that a single person living in a studio apartment should pay no more than $725 a month in rent and $60 in utilities. And, a family of four living in a three-bedroom apartment should pay no more than $1,003 in rent and $117 in utilities.

Milton, 26, pays a $450 monthly rent for one room in a house where she’s lived for two years. She has until January to find a new place.

Advocates for the poor, builders and government officials in Buncombe County – and throughout the nation – say there is no one answer to solving the conundrum facing Milton and her boyfriend. But there are ways to help.

“This is about easing the problem, not solving it,” said Rich Olejniczak, rental development officer at Mountain Housing Opportunities, an Asheville nonprofit community development corporation.

Strategies

FACING A CRISIS

For months, Asheville City Councilman Gordon Smith has called the region’s lack of affordable housing “a crisis.” Smith chairs the city’s Housing & Community Development Committee and the Asheville Regional Housing Consortium.

He, Asheville Assistant Director of Community and Economic Development Jeff Staudinger, other City Council and staff members and local volunteers have developed a multipronged approach.

Some of the newer tools have existed for years but were unused.

The council passed an ordinance in 2010, for example, that provided incentives for developers to build more housing units if they placed their projects along public transit lines. But few took advantage of it, Staudinger said.

To encourage developers, city officials in September revised those land-use guidelines. Now, for example, developers may qualify for property-tax exemptions and reductions in permitting fees depending on how many affordable units they construct.

In December, the council increased the number of housing units allowed to be built per acre in many parts of Asheville. Up to 70 units per acre are now acceptable as long as 20 percent of those are affordable, according to federal guidelines for Asheville.

Earlier this year, the council revised an existing ordinance that gave landowners the power to transform structures on their property into housing units. The revision increased the number of landowners who may take advantage of incentives.

During the coming weeks, community leaders representing the public, private and nonprofit sectors of Asheville and Buncombe County will address affordable-housing issues.

An Asheville/Buncombe Housing Summit is scheduled for Nov. 16 at the US Cellular Center Banquet Hall.

Laura Clark, executive director of Renaissance West Community Initiative, is slated to be the keynote speaker. That Charlotte-based initiative supports a mixed-income model of affordable housing that includes on-site educational and community wellness facilities.

The summit will continue an August affordable-housing conversation focusing on how the private, public and nonprofit sectors can collaborate. The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce organized the August meeting.

The November conference will be “geared toward financiers, bankers, mortgage lenders, builders, investors, institutional leaders, business leaders, policymakers and planners,” Smith said.

Early next year, Asheville officials for the first time will issue a request-for-proposals to develop a city-owned parks maintenance facility for affordable-housing units, Staudinger said. The facility is next to the Aston Park tennis center on Hilliard Street.

Challenges

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Even before the flurry of affordable-housing activity during recent months, Asheville received high marks on a 2014 “Affordable Housing Scorecard” produced by Mai Thi Nguyen, an associate professor in the Department of City & Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill.

Nguyen found that Asheville did a better job at producing new affordable-housing units annually than comparably sized or larger cities such as Greenville, South Carolina, Wilmington and Durham.

She also praised the city’s leadership for its “clear commitment to addressing the affordable housing challenge” in Asheville. Nguyen noted those leaders have worked to engage public, private and nonprofit officials.

Obstacles posed by Asheville’s physical landscape resemble those confronted by policymakers in the Seattle region, where, like Asheville, officials are embracing multiple efforts to address an affordable-housing shortage.

“The best tools are the ones where the community says, ‘Let’s do more,'” said Arthur Sullivan, a program manager of ARCH (A Regional Coalition for Housing) in Redmond, Washington.

Like Asheville, the Seattle area in which Sullivan and his colleagues operate also is bounded by mountains and water.

In King County, it’s the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges and Puget Sound and Lake Washington. In Asheville, it’s the Appalachian Mountains and French Broad River creating natural barriers preventing new construction.

Those topographical constraints also inform policymakers what approaches best suit a city when choosing affordable-housing strategies, Sullivan and Buncombe County commissioners Chairman David Gantt said.

“Steep slopes as well as floodplains” exist in Buncombe, Gantt said.

Ordinances restrict development in those areas, Gantt said. Other ordinances provide incentives for developing “along existing transportation corridors and public infrastructure,” he said.

Solutions

MAKING CONSTRUCTION EASIER

Hubbard, the Asheville affordable housing developer, praised Asheville city and Buncombe County staff for doing what they could to make construction easier.

“They can’t control the market,” he said. “There’s only so much they can do.”

Hubbard agrees with many others who say the mushrooming cost of land is a primary culprit behind the corresponding rise in housing costs.

He recently teamed with Ward Griffin, an affordable-housing developer who runs Griffin Realty and Construction Enterprises, Inc., and its contracting company, Biotat LLC.

Griffin said he has been able to survive in the tough Asheville market for 11 years through partnering with public agencies and nonprofit organizations.

He’s made sure to take advantage of incentives, such as Asheville Housing Trust Funddollars, permit- and utility-fee rebates and nonprofit vouchers and rent subsidies.

Griffin also said the biggest challenge is finding affordable sites on which to build.

He said his model presents a return on investors’ money, however modest relative to the cost of building market-rate developments. That enables him to “create a product that we feel good about,” Griffin said. “It’s the opposite of a handout.”

Developer Ward Griffin discusses the housing crisis and the future of affordable housing in Asheville.Maddy Jones/mjones@citizen-times.com

A key to easing the problem is increasing the number of places to live, said Mountain Housing’s Executive Director Scott Dedman “The first step is to set a good, ambitious goal and go after it.”

Dedman’s goal: Create 300 new affordable-housing units annually.

“That’s three times what we’re achieving now,” he said.

But the view held by William Ratchford, an executive at Gastonia-based Southwood Realty and Triangle Real Estate, offers an intriguing glimmer of hope.

The developer is also worried about the Asheville region’s housing supply. Yet his concern is that soon there might be too much of it.

Ratchford’s companies are building hundreds of what he says will be a total of roughly 2,400 new apartments in the Asheville area within the next three years.

“We expect rents to drop $80 to $90 a month,” Ratchford said. “I would not worry about affordable housing. It’s going to come. It’s just going to be two years until you see it.”

Presented with Ratchford’s rosy projection, Councilman Smith is pleased. But, he points out, those 2,400 new units are still less than half of what the region requires.

Do something

TAKING ACTION

Despite the general outcry for more affordable housing locally, and the seemingly deep and wide support for policies that would deliver it, longtime advocates say when it’s time to actually take action, Asheville community leaders and residents historically haven’t delivered.

The lack of progress on the issue during the last decade has been particularly exasperating for Robin Merrell, an attorney at Asheville’s Pisgah Legal Services, which specializes in affordable and public housing.

Pisgah Legal is a nonprofit organization that advocates for lower-income people in Western North Carolina.

She said she wrote an affordable-housing plan for the city in 2008 that contained many of the same ideas being discussed today. But nothing happened, Merrell said.

Local special-interest groups, such as the Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods, are partly to blame for the inaction, Merrell said.

“They claim to care but speak out against projects because of traffic and density and ‘can’t it be built somewhere else,'” Merrell said. “They have had a great deal of influence in the past, and politicians were scared of them. I don’t know that they are as much anymore, but the neighborhoods definitely get to have their say.”

Barber Melton, a co-founder of the neighborhoods coalition and a member of the city’sAffordable Housing Advisory Committee, agreed in one respect.

Many residents will oppose the construction of more apartments in the neighborhoods where they live, she said.

Worst case

LOSING PEOPLE

If the reality on the ground remains the same, despite new initiatives, Asheville could continue to lose more people like Michelle Watkins.

The 38-year-old, decided to leave Asheville altogether due to the discrepancy between Asheville’s rising cost of living and the failure of their incomes to keep up.

Watkins and her two sons, 7 and 4, moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, from West Asheville in June 2014.

The salary she earned as a public-school special-education teacher wasn’t enough, Watkins said.

“I didn’t go to a four-year college and get a master’s degree for my children to qualify for Medicaid,” she said.

After nine years of employment in the North Carolina K-12 education system, Watkins’ income was $32,000 during the 2013-14 academic year.

“Financially, we couldn’t do it,” she said.

Average annual pay over 10 years ending in 2014 increased for workers in Buncombe County by 25.2 percent, rising from $30,737 to $38,489, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisticsdata show.

But over that time, inflation increased 25.3 percent, which means county workers were, in real terms, earning less than what they were a decade before.

The same happened in Asheville, where average worker pay last year was $37,289. A decade prior, annual earnings were $29,989. But adjusted for inflation, the city-resident wages fell even further than those of the county, by 0.8 percent.

Watkins is happy with the $20,000-a-year raise and the house that’s three times larger than her old Asheville home.

But she feels it’s tragic to leave the place that her father’s side of the family has called home since the late 1700s, Watkins said. She’d love to come back, the single mom said, but not if it means a return to using food stamps to feed her kids during summer breaks.

The long game

GOING THROUGH CHANGES

Be it Asheville or the United States, “so much of what’s happening goes back to the ’70s and ’80s, when we lost a living wage,” said Olejniczak, the Mountain Housing Opportunities rental development officer. “That’s when the affordable-housing crisis started.”

But because the roots of the current dynamic go back decades and its manifestations are countrywide, “I don’t think Asheville can solve this by itself,” Olejniczak said.

State and federal policy changes must accompany local actions, he said.

“This might take 30 to 40 years to get back on track.”

A 1 percent rental vacancy rate exists throughout the region that comprises Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties, according to Bowen National Research, an Ohio-based real estate market consulting firm. City of Asheville officials paid the firm $29,750 to conduct a housing-needs assessment in those counties last year. Bowen released its report in January.

Among its findings:

  • The greatest projected renter household growth from 2015 to 2020 will be among those with incomes between $35,000 and $49,999.
  • The largest share of renter households will be among those making less than $15,000 by 2020.
  • The greatest owner household growth from 2015 to 2020 will occur among those making between $100,000 and $149,000.
  • The largest share of household owners will be those earning incomes between $50,000 and $74,999.
  • At the time Bowen conducted its survey, Buncombe County multifamily rental units reported a 99.2 percent occupancy rate, which the Bowen report authors termed as “very high.”
  • Bowen found zero vacancies among the 3,730 surveyed affordable rental units in Buncombe County. The firm defined “affordable rental units” as tax-credit and government-subsidized units. Those units had “long wait lists,” Bowen reported.

Source: Bowen National Research, Pickerington, Ohio 

via http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/2015/10/31/affordable-housing-asheville-buncombe-county-bowen-report-esther-manheimer-david-gantt-gordon-smith-census-bureau/74265462/

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Asheville Food Park and Market opens Friday

The Asheville Food Park and Market is nearing completion, with Edna’s at the River, the second location for the popular cafe, opening on location Friday, according to owner and manager Dean Pistor.

Food trucks also will line up that day, and this weekend will also see the kickoff of a series of soft openings at the Cascade Lounge, an onsite liquor bar with local beer and other brews in cans and on tap. Though a grand opening is forthcoming, the beer is set to flow (permits pending) at this new river- and creek-front bar.

This is the culmination of Pistor’s work to stake a claim at the edge of the River Arts District, rehabilitating a dilapidated building across the street from Carrier Park and on the corner of Amboy Road and State Street. The structure now serves as an eat-in dining room, commissary for food truck vendors and a vending space for artists and other eclectic businesses, from boutique pop-up shops to sausage vendors.

While some might credit Pistor’s real estate market savvy — he’s also a broker and co-owner of Realty World Marketplace — with snagging a hot property before the true boom hits the neighborhood, he thinks the future for the neighborhood is already here.

“I think we’re behind the times compared to what the rest of the neighborhood is doing,” he said. “The corner is usually the anchor to a neighborhood revitalization.”

Long covered with graffiti and full of garbage, the building remained vacant and derelict for years, even as Carrier Park and other property along the river corridor was revitalized. Though many thought the structure was best torn down, Pistor started digging out the garbage and sifting through years of neglect.

“Once we did that, we realized the bones would be fine. We just had to add some elements to decorate it,” he said.

With a fresh coat of paint and some architectural rehab, the Food Park is ready to serve as a commerce and riverfront congregation center, one with a half-dozen food trucks a day and a produce stand selling seasonal wares, from produce to Halloween pumpkins and Christmas trees.

Though the building is within view of the river, much of the focus will be on Mead Creek, which flows down the length of the property, giving the park about 300 feet of creek frontage and a shady space for food trucks and dining.

Mobile Global Bistro, which serves pit-roasted beef and lamb gyros, and the Food Stop, which has po’boys and crab cakes, have both served as mobile vendors at the park.

Starting at 7 a.m. daily, food trucks will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, with late-night shifts on weekends, two trucks per shift. Additionally, Edna’s at the River will serve coffee and cafe-style breakfast.

The Asheville Food Park also will host diverse events, from nonprofit fundraisers to barbecue battles.

Though the park has upcoming parties on the docket for rugby and hockey teams, it will serve as a natural stop for Carrier Park athletes of a different sort, particularly come summer, with kayakers coming off the river.

There’s an educational aspect to the park as well, with an Asheville City Schools gardener working to cultivate live edible plants on the site, in a space that’s meant more for native-plant education than grazing.

The 12 chickens on the property are also, at this point, more for ambiance that eating — they’re turning out a mere nine eggs daily, Pistor said. But their clucking provides a nice market-shopping ambiance, he added.

“I hear a chicken laying an egg right now,” he said.

More about Asheville Food Park and Market, 219 Amboy Road, here.

via http://www.citizen-times.com/story/entertainment/2015/10/20/asheville-food-park-and-market-opens-friday/74276218/  Mackensy Lunsford, mlunsford@citizen-times.com8:56 a.m. EDT October 21, 2015

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Rand Paul in Asheville: 2016 a ‘marathon not a sprint’

Speaking Saturday in Asheville, where he came for private fundraisers, the 2016 presidential candidate and Republican Kentucky senator also said he’s optimistic he can turn around his plummeting rankings in the polls and stagnant fundraising and described himself as a “voice of reason” on both sides of the aisle.

“This is a marathon not a sprint,” Paul said of the presidential race.

Asked about concerns that he can’t actively campaign for 2016 and keep his Senate seat in GOP hands, the libertarian from Bowling Green said, “We’re in it for the duration in the presidential race.”

In Public Policy Polling’s most recent North Carolina poll, Paul was at less than 1 percent, while GOP front-runner Donald Trump was leading with 26 percent. Nationally, Paul is polling at 2 percent, while Trump leads the field with 27 percent. This week, Paul announced visits to 11 college campuses across Iowa in an effort to reach younger voters.

Paul’s support even among the party’s like-minded wing is largely thought to be sagging, with GOP rival Sen. Ted Cruz picking up his likely support in states like New Hampshire.

Paul said he thinks the polls will be closer in January, and described himself as a candidate who has demonstrated his capability to compromise and his “restrained” foreign policy approach that includes being opposed to a no-fly zone over Syria.

He cited his work with Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden on privacy bills to rein in what he sees as government overreach in collecting phone records and his work with Democrat Cory Booker on expunging minor drug crimes like marijuana possession.

“I think I’ve actually shown that I do have the ability to work with the other side,” Paul said.

He said there’s an enormous amount of waste in government.

“I think we need to exert the power of the purse, which means all spending should expire and then we should start anew,” he said.

That doesn’t mean a government shutdown, but letting spending expire and then “the burden should be on those who want to spend money to come up with the votes,” he said.

Asked about his vision for the economy and solutions to issues such as affordable housing in places like Asheville, where many young people feel priced out, Paul touted the primacy of the private sector and need for a government that is “not involved in every nook and cranny of our lives.”

And he said both Trump and likely Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton wouldn’t reduce government.

“I think they’d be two sides of a coin that really represents the same in many ways,” Paul said.

He supported earlier comments he’s made that Trump isn’t a “real conservative,” noting the real estate mogul’s support for higher taxes and eminent domain.

“He’s Jolly Well Good with the government,” Paul said.

Asked if he supports more protections on people who can buy guns in the wake of three shootings at U.S. colleges in the past two weeks, Paul said more self-defense is the answer. He highlighted the commonalities in places the shootings have occurred, not, he said, at police stations, but in places where guns are prohibited.

“They tend to go where it is well-known that there are no guns and no self-defense, so I think more self-defense is part of the answer,” he said.

article via Leah Buletti, lbuletti@citizen-times.com9:16 p.m. EDT October 10, 2015 http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2015/10/10/rand-paul-asheville-2016-marathon-not-sprint/73723052/

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Asheville entrepreneurs look to buy Waking Life

Asheville entrepreneurs look to buy Waking Life

In the wake of the recent scandal surrounding Waking Life Espresso, several interested parties are eyeing the business for takeover.

As reported Wednesday, the proposed downtown second location of Waking Life is not opening. That 89 Patton Ave. space, which owner Jared Rutledge said in June would house a sparse and “lab-like” espresso bar, is currently for lease.

“We will not let that space on Patton Avenue sit empty,” Michael Thornton, director of property management at Whitney Commercial Real Estate, said Tuesday.

And now several interested parties are looking to take over the coffee shop’s flagship West Asheville location at 976 Haywood Road, currently serving as a focus of local protests.

Neither Rutledge nor co-owner Jacob Owens have publicly announced intentions to sell their business. “We are undecided at this point and we are keeping all options open,” Owens said.

Local small business lender Mountain BizWorks earlier this week decided to terminate its loan to Waking Life. Since then, the nonprofit has fielded phone calls and requests from investors wanting to buy the business.

“What we have been doing is passing on that information to Waking Life,” said Patrick Fitzsimmons, executive director of Mountain BizWorks. “What has happened since we passed that information along, either I don’t know or I can’t say.”

Though Fitzsimmons could not share how many have approached him about taking over the business at this time, he did say all potential investors have been local to the Asheville area.

A duo of local businesswomen, Jodi Rhoden and Amber Arthur, owners of Short Street Cakes and Battlecat Coffee respectively, on Wednesday announced their hopeful intentions to take over the lease of the West Asheville building and purchase the equipment within.

From Facebook:

Hello Asheville Community.

In the wake of the recent debacle surrounding Waking Life, Amber Arthur of Battlecat and I have been brainstorming about how we can transform the hateful negativity of Jared and Jacob’s business into a source of support, love, and healing for women in our community.

We have an idea to together buy the equipment and the lease of the business (we are not interested in handouts from those guys, thank you very much) and create a cafe and sweet shop (Battlecakes, anyone?) where a percentage of every day’s revenues (ALL sales, not just profits) will go to a different community non-profit each month, with a focus on empowering women.

Eventually we would like implement more direct social entrepreneurship programs within the business. We have a business plan, we have investors, and we have the experience and infrastructure of Short Street Cakes, Battlecat, and Penny Cup behind us, but most importantly, if you will support us, we have you. We will only move forward with this idea if you, our community, supports it. What do you say, Asheville? Should two West Asheville women entrepreneurs pirate this sinking ship and steer it towards calmer waters? You let us know. ‪#‎battlecakes‬

This morning, Rhoden said Waking Life may already be under contract by other parties, but she and Arthur continue to pursue their intentions.

“There are other businesses competing,” she acknowledged.

Rhoden said that she and Arthur want to launch a for-profit business where 5 percent of total gross revenue would go to unnamed nonprofits. She plans specifically to meet with the local chapter of Our Voice, a rape crisis center, to discuss how best to offer support.

“We want to meet with their board to make sure we’re acting in their best interest,” she said.

Rhoden also said that, with so many interested parties, she’s concerned that a bidding war will break out over the business.

“My concern is that they not receive a profit off of this,” she said. “We don’t think other businesses should allow them to profit from scandal.”

via Mackensy Lunsford and Caitlin Byrd, cbyrd@citizen-times.com9:07 p.m. EDT September 24, 2015 http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/2015/09/24/asheville-entrepreneurs-look-buy-waking-life/72736070/

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Foreclosure List & Search for Asheville NC

https://www.foreclosure.com/listings/asheville-nc/

Foreclosure Homes in Asheville, NC

Find the best foreclosure homes listings for sale — bank-owned, government (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD, etc.) and others — in and near the city of Asheville, NC at Foreclosure.com. Get information on foreclosure homes for rent, how to buy foreclosures in Asheville, NC and much more. Save thousands at closing with home foreclosure listings in Asheville, NC — up to 75% off market value!

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Asheville private sector necessary to solve housing crisis

Asheville private sector necessary to solve housing crisis

An August meeting to discuss options convened by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce gives some hope that a solution is attainable.

This report is one in an occasional series on Asheville’s shortage of affordable housing.

ASHEVILLE – Gordon Smith admits to having seen eyes roll when he talks about cross-sector collaboration yielding concrete solutions to the region’s affordable-housing crisis.

Put another way, that’s getting builders, businesses and bureaucrats working together.

“People in Asheville who have been building affordable housing for years are doubtful that the private sector is going to step up,” said Smith, a city councilman and chairman of the city’s Housing & Community Development Committee and the Asheville Regional Housing Consortium.

But a meeting of the area’s captains of industry last week could give the cause a boost, he said.

About 60 people attended the Aug. 27 meeting at Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s office, including members of Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce boards, the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County, the Tourism Development Authority, people involved with the chamber’s five-year plan for job creation and local developers, said chamber board chairwoman Suzanne DeFerie. She also is president and CEO of Asheville Savings Bank.

Chamber President and CEO Kit Cramer organized the meeting to ensure affordable housing would be examined within the context of the region’s many industries. Some Asheville city and Buncombe County government officials also attended the meeting.

The next meeting will occur this fall, but a date has not yet been set, DeFerie said.

“The ultimate goal really is to bring together the public sector, the nonprofits and the private sector – not just the development community, but also hoteliers, manufacturers and restaurateurs,” said Jack Cecil, president of Biltmore Farms.

Ideas discussed at the meeting – which some called a first for the region – included encouraging large employers to help employees with housing costs and making grants available for homebuyers.

“I cannot remember a time when the private sector, through the chamber’s leadership, has been as involved with the housing affordability discussion,” said Cynthia Barcklow, a Buncombe County planner who also attended the gathering.

That fact is important if Western North Carolina is to see progress in tackling the region’s affordable-housing predicament, experts say.

How the region became mired in a shortage of affordable housing for everyday workers is complicated. But it could start with Asheville’s ever-more-visible national profile, which has increased the numbers of visitors and residents. The city’s popularity combined with the post-recession reluctance of developers to build has left the region short in the supply of places to live — while demand keeps rising.

That dynamic has pushed up home prices and rents.

The Problem

A report released in December found a less than 1 percent apartment vacancy rate in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties.

That study, conducted by Ohio-based Bowen National Research, a real estate market consulting firm, found median rents for market-rate apartments ranged from $832 to $3,300 and $583 to $1,187 for tax-credit units.

And while more jobs exist than in years, many are in low-wage industries such as retail and tourism.

July marked the 10th consecutive month with the highest level of nonfarm payroll employment ever for that month in the Asheville metro area, which comprises Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison Counties, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About 19,000 retail jobs and 17,000 tourism jobs existed in Buncombe County alone during 2014, according to a study released in August by the Pennsylvania-based consulting firm, Tourism Economics. Only the healthcare sector employed more people, with 25,000 employed, that research showed.

Possible remedies

The cost of housing “has now become an issue that our economic development prospects are asking about when they talk with us,” DeFerie said during her opening remarks at last month’s meeting.

One way to confront that concern is for the private, public and nonprofit sectors to band together and seek federal dollars designated for affordable housing, Cecil said.

Priorities for those dollars would be building, repairing and renovating housing for the area’s workforce, he said.

Options someday could include local companies providing their employees with housing, Cecil said.

“That’s a good question to ask in the future,” he said.

Another option is a year-and-a-half-old program run by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta.

Arthur Fleming, a bank senior vice president and director of community investment services, told the meeting attendees that obtaining equity would be key to solving the affordable-housing conundrum.

The bank would provide $1 million to the Asheville and Buncombe County community through its 13 member banks that exist in the area, Fleming said.

But that $1 million would be contingent on the community raising $2 million over a fixed time period of nine months or a year, he said.

In one scenario, that money could be available as grants for homebuyers through the local member banks.

If the buyer, for example, qualified for a mortgage that was less than the house cost, the grant money could help make up the difference.

“It reduces the money that people need to buy the home,” Fleming said. “It’s not about buying a cheaper house. That’s not a solution.”

Fleming and his Atlanta colleagues have used that model for projects in Atlanta; Palm Beach County, Florida; and Savannah, Georgia.

The bank also helps renters by providing funding to developers of multi-family apartment complexes.

Mountain Housing Opportunities Inc., an Asheville nonprofit community-development corporation that builds and improves homes, received $500,000 to build the Villas at Fallen Spruce, a 55-unit senior-housing complex in Leicester.

And the bank offers credit enhancement that developers could use when borrowing money to build a housing project. Financing would be provided to the developers, for example, with a bond that has a lower interest rate than conventional financing. The savings then could be passed on to the renter or homebuyer, Fleming said.

Private-sector participation

That tool could be particularly useful in today’s economic environment, which Jonathan Miller described as one with persistent tight credit.

The high credit standards that have existed since the Great Recession also is a reason local governments in places like Asheville, New York and “anywhere else in the country are connecting with the private sector,” said Miller, the New York-based co-founder of Miller Samuel, a residential real estate appraisal company, and the commercial valuation firm Miller Cicero.

“There’s no money in the coffers,” Miller said. “The public sector can’t build affordable-housing units or supplement rent. It doesn’t have the money for it.”

Compounding the tight-credit situation is wage stagnation while rents and home prices keep rising.

“That dramatically exacerbates the problem,” Miller said.

And in places like Asheville, where the economy is improving, “there is no housing for the jobs being created. That’s the challenge.”

Which is also why the private sector must be part of the solution, Miller said.

“It benefits the business community for its employees to have access to housing, so business can grow in your town,” he said.

Private-sector organizations throughout the country assisting their employees with housing include Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said Maya Brennan, housing vice president at the Urban Land Institute Terwilliger Center for Housing in Washington, D.C.

“More local employers see this is as a challenge that’s affecting retention and recruitment,” Brennan said. “It makes financial sense to make obtaining housing more feasible.”

Biltmore Estate and Mission Health in Asheville also have programs that help employees become homeowners. Both companies provide up to $2,500 in matching funds per employee for a down payment on a first home.

Lew Kraus, Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s executive director, agreed that wages were integral to solving the affordable-housing equation.

“I always say that the main thing that prevents us from helping more people is the lack of capital,” Kraus said. “That doesn’t mean just writing checks to Habitat. Capital also comes in the form of paying wages that allows employees to afford housing in the area.”

Kraus said he is encouraged that members of the local private sector are talking about helping alleviate the affordable-housing strain.

“It’s to everyone’s advantage to come together and find a workable solution,” Kraus said.

Throughout the years, conversations among many representing different sectors of the Asheville-Buncombe community have occurred with affordable housing at their center, Kraus said.

“I trust that all of us will continue to get together and come up with some tangible concrete steps,” he said.

One thing gives him hope about the current process: Business people say they are also considering collectively applying for grants from large organizations such as the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago.

“That’d be wonderful, I’d love to see that happen,” Kraus said. “I’ve never seen that done here.”

But the challenge remains immense, Scott Dedman, Mountain Housing Opportunities executive director, reminded the meeting audience during his remarks.

He suggested a goal of building 200 new units of affordable housing a year – an endeavor that would cost “upwards of $5 million annually in new commitments,” Dedman said.

Councilman Smith emphasized that it’s already common knowledge that the public and nonprofit sectors can’t solve the affordable-housing problem on their own.

Even if city officials maximized the tools available to them to address shortage, Asheville leaders would be able to meet only half the area’s current need within seven years, Smith said in April.

In the most generous forecast, a total of 2,800 rental units could be created by 2022 – half of the 5,600 that a report released in January concluded the region lacked.

Smith found an idea put forth by Biltmore Farms’ Cecil to create a joint city-county affordable-housing commission that would include private-sector members particularly intriguing.

“That’s building a table for everyone to sit at,” Smith said. “The private sector is owning the problem.”

Dedman concurred.

“Any significant portion that the private sector could provide would be helpful.”

via Mike Cronin, mcronin@citizen-times.com6:54 p.m. EDT September 6, 2015 (Photo: William Woody / wwoody@citizen-times.com)

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Cat Cafe? Meow + Caffeine…

Asheville City Council to consider cat café

cityofasheville

At its Tuesday, Sept. 8 meeting, Asheville City Council is set to consider plenty of real estate development projects — including one of the warm, fuzzy variety.

Among other zoning changes and amendments on the agenda, council will hear a presentation and public comment on a downtown cat café proposed by local no-kill shelter and nonprofit Brother Wolf Animal Rescue.

First pioneered in Japan to cater to stressed-out urban cat lovers, the cat café concept has been tweaked by North American animal rescue organizations to encourage cat and kitten adoptions. To meet health department regulations, cat areas are separated from food and drink areas.

Asheville’s Unified Development Ordinance currently prohibits animal uses in the central business district, so allowing Brother Wolf’s proposed cat café will require an alteration to the code. The proposed wording of the amendment to the UDO reads:

Cat café means any premises used to house or contain homeless, orphaned or unwanted cats and that is owned, operated or maintained by an organization that is licensed by the State as an animal shelter and devoted to the welfare, protection and humane treatment of animals for the purpose of adoption, and which incorporates retail sales to support the interaction of patrons with cats, such as a café, bookshop or other permitted use.

Both the Downtown Commission and the Planning and Zoning Commission have reviewed and unanimously approved the proposed change.

A new face

Todd Okolichany, new Director of Planning & Urban Design. Photo provided by City of Asheville.
Todd Okolichany, new Director of Planning & Urban Design. Photo provided by City of Asheville.

New Director of Planning & Urban Design Todd Okolichany will wrap up a long first day on the job with an introduction and welcome at the meeting. A city press release from August 2015 describes Okolichany’s recent background:

Okolichany comes to the City of Asheville from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he served as principal planner for the Department of Sustainable Development. A LEED-Green Associate accredited by the Green Building Certification Institute, Okolichany supervised major programs of the city’s Urban Design and Planning Division, including work related to strategic planning, design standards and form-based codes.

Proclamations

Council will proclaim Sept. 14-18 as “Minority Enterprise Development Week” and Sept. 21 as “Day of Peace.”

Consent Agenda

In addition to business-as-usual matters to be voted upon as a group under the consent agenda, three more-notable items are included: adoption of an open data policy for the city, a resolution to support redistricting reform and a motion to refer the amendment to the UDO regarding homestays to the City Council Planning & Economic Development Committee.

“Open data,” reads a memo by Chief Information Officer Jonathan Feldman, “is the automation of data records that are already considered ‘open’ by state law. Open data removes the manual labor associated with providing data and makes city government more efficient by creating a self-service portal that serves interested parties, such as media, business and interested citizens.”

The purpose of the open data policy, according to the memo, is to continue to expand the city’s efforts to provide 24/7 access to data to facilitate “economic development, commerce, entrepreneurship and a higher level of civic engagement in the community.”

The proposed resolution to support redistricting reform aims to clarify Council’s support for the creation of “an independent redistricting process that ensures diversity, partisan balance and geography, for all future redistricting.”

Finally, if approved as part of the consent agenda, Council will redirect the amendment concerning homestays (discussed at the City Council Aug. 25 meeting) to the City Council Planning & Economic Development Committee. The agenda document does not specify what the process for final approval of the amendment will be.

The full text of the consent agenda and links to supporting documents can be found here.

Presentations and Reports

Council will hear a report about the online tool SimpliCity, which allows users to simultaneously search several types of city records by property address, yielding information about property ownership, tax valuation, zoning, recent nearby development, crime statistics and trash and recycling pickup times. SimpliCity shows which governmental entity is responsible for street maintenance at a specific location and provides a link to The Asheville App for reporting problems and requests.

Council will also hear a legislative update on activities of the North Carolina General Assembly relevant to Asheville.

Public Hearings

Council will hear a presentations and public comment on the proposed adoption of the Historic Preservation Master Plan as part of the Asheville City Development Plan 2025, as well as five zoning requests related to real estate development.

Historic Preservation PlanAccording to a memo from Stacy Merten, director of the Historic Resources Commission, the Historic Preservation Master Plan is intended to “help guide the future work of the commission and further historic preservation efforts as supported through the city’s adopted comprehensive and downtown development plans. This will ensure that historic preservation remains integral to quality urban design, sustainability and the strategic planning vision of Asheville and Buncombe County.”

The full text of the Master Plan is availablehere.

Zoning requests on which Council will hear public comment include:

  • Resolution to permanently close an unnamed alley between Wyoming Road and Keebler Road
  • Rezoning 200 Asheland Ave. from Regional Business District to Central Business District and associated amendments to the officially adopted Height Zone Map
  • Modification to a conditional use permit for Biltmore Gardens originally approved in 2005 (now known as Commercial Properties at Biltmore) to include the development of the commercial portion of the project with three, 2-story office buildings and associated parking on property known as 700 Biltmore Ave.
  • Amendment to the Code of Ordinances to create a new land use that permits feline adoption together with retail sales, known as cat café, within the Central Business District
  • Conditional zoning of property located at 311 and 315 Old Haw Creek Road from RS-4 single-family medium density district to Institutional District/Conditional Zoning for church renovation, parking area, added sidewalks and construction of 10 student housing units with associated infrastructure, with conditions for reduced property line buffers for portions of the site.

New business

The final item on the meeting agenda is consideration of which, if any, of the candidates for open commission seats City Council will interview. The commissions adding new members include the HUB Community Economic Development Alliance, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee and the Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy & the Environment on the Multimodal Transportation Commission, the Recreation Board and the Tourism Development Authority.

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 8 at 5 p.m. in the Council Chamber on the second floor of City Hall. The full meeting agenda can be found here.

article via Posted on September 7, 2015 by Virginia Daffron https://mountainx.com/news/asheville-city-council-to-consider-cat-cafe/

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Asheville-area home & garden events for early Sept.

ANNUAL FALL PLANT AND RUMMAGE SALE: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 12, rain or shine, Botanical Gardens at Asheville, 151 W.T. Weaver Boulevard. Native plants, shrubs and trees from the gardens and from over a dozen regional nurseries and local garden clubs. Free admission and parking.

WEST ASHEVILLE GARDEN STROLL: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 12, rain or shine, opening ceremony at 10:30 a.m. at the West Asheville Library, 942 Haywood Road. Visit 18 gardens, all walkable, on the theme “Cycles”; guides available at the library all day. Free and open to the public. Details soon at www.westashevillegardens.com.

CAROLINAS DAHLIA SOCIETY ANNUAL SHOW: 1-5 p.m. Sept. 12 and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 13, NC Arboretum, 100 Frederick Olmsted Law Way, Asheville. More than 800 blooms to be shown, plus classes, flowers for sale. Free admission with paid Arboretum parking. Visit www.carolinasdahliasociety.org.

GROVE PARK/SUNSET MOUNTAIN TOUR OF HOMES: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 13. Tickets on sale Aug. 14. A fundraiser to help the neighborhood association renovate and maintain E.W. Grove Park, the Griffing Boulevard Rose Gardens and Sunset Parkway. To learn more, visit http://gpsmna.org.

BAMBOO WALKING TOURS: 1:30-3 p.m. on the second and fourth Sundays through November at Haiku Bamboo Nursery/Farm, 468 Rhodes Mountain Road, Hendersonville. The next walk is Sept. 13. Learn about bamboo plants, characteristics and environment. Wear walking shoes, no sandals. Cameras permitted. Adults $25, seniors $23, ages 13-18, $15, free for younger. To arrange a tour or to learn more, call 828-685-3053. Visit www.haikubamboonursery.net.

CIDERFEST: 1-5 p.m. Nov. 7, WNC Farmers Market, 570 Brevard Road, Asheville. Tickets $30, on sale at www.ciderfestnc.com. Designated driver, $15; children free. Proceeds benefit WNC Green Building Council. Hard cider, food pairings, arts & crafts, live music, children’s activities.

WORKSHOPS & MEETINGS

MEN’S GARDEN CLUB OF ASHEVILLE: Noon, Sept. 1, First Baptist Church of Asheville dining room, 5 Oak St. Alison Arnold, agent with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, will present, “Do You Know Your Invasive Plants?” Arnold also spent 16 years with the NC Arboretum, where she was director of horticulture. Her presentation (at about 12:45 p.m.) is free, but lunch is $11. RSVP to Dick Powell at wdpowelldds@yahoo.com.

ASHEVILLE GARDEN CLUB: 9:30 a.m. Sept. 2, N. Asheville Community Center, 37 E. Larchmont Road. June Jolley of the NC Arboretum will present “An Introduction to Protocols for Long-Term Seed Saving.” Program starts at 10 a.m. To learn more, call Pat Naffin at 828-550-3459.

HYPERTUFA LEAF CASTING: 10 a.m.-noon Aug. 27, Bullington Gardens, 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville. Create a natural looking hypertufa casting of a large leaf. $50, including all materials. To register, contact jmurphy@ncsu.edu or 828-698-6104.

MUSHROOM GROWING WORKSHOP: 2:30-4 p.m. Sept. 2, Bullington Gardens, 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville. Make your own mushroom log and learn about cultivating mushrooms at home. $60, including all materials. To register, contact jmurphy@ncsu.edu or 828-698-6104.

FALL PLANT SALE: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 11 and 12. Bullington Gardens, 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville. Seasonal perennials, mums, pansies, trees and shrubs and the “garden shed” with used tools, books and other garden-related items.

DAHLIA DAZE AT BULLINGTON GARDENS: Sept. 22-25 at 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville. Tours of the dahlia garden at 1 and 2 p.m. Sept. 22, 23 and 25. Demonstration of Ikebana using dahlias, 3 p.m. Sept. 24. Free, but registration is necessary to jmurphy@ncsu.edu or 828-698-6104.

WNC FARMERS MARKET

OPEN DAILY: Retail shops open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. every day, Brevard Road at Interstate 40. Fresh produce — including peaches, pears, cabbage, corn, peppers, eggplant, fall squash, sweet and white potatoes, muscadine grapes and more — as well as jams, jellies, local honey, cheese, wine and crafts. Learn more at wncfarmersmarket.org. Upcoming events include:

Ciderfest, 1-5 p.m. Nov. 7. Tickets $30, on sale at www.ciderfestnc.com. Designated driver, $15; children free. Benefit for WNC Green Building Council. Hard cider, food pairings, arts & crafts, live music, children’s activities.

ASHEVILLE-AREA TAILGATE MARKETS

For even more markets, visit www.buyappalachian.org/search/tailgate_markets.

Asheville City Market: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, 161 S. Charlotte St. 10 a.m.-noon. www.asapconnections.org.

Asheville City Market South: noon-4 p.m. Wednesdays, 2 Town Square Blvd., Biltmore Park Town Square. www.asapconnections.org.

Black Mountain Tailgate Market: 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays, behind the First Baptist Church in Black Mountain at 130 Montreat Road.

East Asheville Tailgate Market: 3-6 p.m. Fridays, 954 Tunnel Road, Groce UMC upper parking lot.

French Broad Food Co-op Market: 2-6 p.m. Wednesdays, 76 Biltmore Ave., in the parking lot next to the French Broad Food Co-op.

Leicester Farmers Market: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays, Leicester Landing Shopping Center, 338 Leicester Road, behind Zaxby’s. www.leices­terfarmersmarket.com.

North Asheville Tailgate Market: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays. UNC Asheville Campus Commuter Lot C. Take Weaver Boulevard to campus entrance at traffic circle; first parking lot on right.

Oakley Farmers Market: 3:30-6:30 p.m. Thursdays, 607 Fairview Road, behind Oakley UMC.

River Arts District Farmers Market: 2-6 p.m. Wednesdays, 175 Clingman Ave., in the field next to All Souls Pizza.

Weaverville Tailgate Market: 2:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays. On the hill overlooking Lake Louise behind the Community Center on Weaverville Highway.

West Asheville Tailgate Market: 2:30-6 p.m. Tuesdays, 718 Haywood Road.

OTHER WNC TAILGATE MARKETS

Bakersville Farmers Market: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, 101 Hemlock Drive, Bakersville.

Flat Rock Tailgate Market: 3-6 p.m. Thursdays, 2720 Greenville Highway, Flat Rock.

Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market: 8 a.m.-noon Wednesdays & Saturdays at the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre parking lot, 250 Pigeon St., Waynesville.

Henderson County Tailgate Market: 7 a.m.-noon, 100 N. King St., Hendersonville.

Jackson County Farmers Market: 9 a.m.-noon. Saturdays, municipal parking lot next to Bridge Park, along Railroad Avenue, Sylva.

Madison County Farmers & Artisans Market: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, corner of Park and Physical Plant drives, Mars Hill.

Historic Marion Tailgate Market: 3-6 p.m. Tuesdays, 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays, West Henderson and Logan streets, Marion.

Mills River Farmers Market: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, 5046 Boylston Highway, Mills River.

Spruce Pine Farmers Market: 2-5 p.m. Wednesdays, 297 Oak Ave., Spruce Pine.

Transylvania Tailgate Market: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, 190 E. Main St., Brevard. VisitTransylvaniaFarmersMarket.com.

Original Waynesville Tailgate Market: 8 a.m.-noon Wednesdays and Saturdays, 171 Legion Drive, Waynesville.

Yancey County Farmers Market: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturdays, South Main Street, Burnsville.

ONGOING

GRANT APPLICATIONS: Deadline Oct. 1 for Haywood County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association educational or research grants for 2016. Projects must be in Haywood County, and related to gardening, horticulture or the environment (not for beautification). Call 828-456-3575.

MASTER GARDENER CLASSES: Haywood County Extension is accepting applications for 2016 training sessions, one morning a week, January-April. Participants agree to volunteer at least 40 hours during the following year. Attend free info seminars at 2 p.m. Oct. 8, Waynesville Library, or 5 p.m. Oct. 14, Canton Library. To learn more, call 828-456-3575.

LEICESTER GARDEN CLUB: Meets at 1 p.m. fourth Tuesday of the month at the Leicester Library. To learn more, contact Crystal Dover at 828-259-9649.

WEAVERVILLE GARDEN CLUB: Meets at 9:30 a.m. second Tuesday of every month September through June in the Community Room at the Weaverville Town Hall on Main Street. To learn more, call 828-658-1154.

GROW YOUR OWN FOOD: Hunter Community Garden on Johnson Farm Road in Haywood County has 12-by-50-foot lots and provides irrigation and many tools. $35. To learn more or sign up, contact Sarah Scott at the Haywood Extension Center, 828-456-3575.

COMPOSTING DEMONSTRATION: Learn how to compost, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, April-October, near Jesse Israel’s Garden Center, WNC Farmers Market, 570 Brevard Road. Free. Tips, instructions, Q&A, samples, demos and composters on display. Ask a Gardener information table also available for more general questions. To learn more, visitwww.buncombemastergardener.org or call 828-255-5522.

MASTER GARDENERS’ FREE ASSISTANCE: Helpline open 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Fridays. Call 828-255-5522 or visit the Buncombe County Extension Office, 94 Coxe Ave., Asheville. Free soil sample test kits also available. For help anytime, visit www.buncombemastergardener.org, purchase “A Gardening Guide for Our Mountains,” available online or at the Extension office and subscribe to the free monthly newsletter for home lawn and garden enthusiasts — call 828-255-5522 or send an email with “Subscribe to Mountain Gardener” in subject line to Joyce.Plemmons@buncombecounty.org.

RAIN BARRELS: Buncombe County Cooperative Extension has 80-gallon rain barrels available for $110 plus tax at 94 Coxe Ave., Asheville. Call 828-255-5522 for availability.

via http://www.citizen-times.com/story/life/2015/09/04/asheville-area-home-garden-events-early-sept/71693624/

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