Innovation districts will bolster economic growth

Article Highlights
  • Mayor, Esther Manheimer, gives her opinion about the Municipal Service Districts (aka Innovation Districts) which were approved in October 2014
  • First, infrastructure investments like road improvements, new sidewalks and added bike lanes
  • Development incentives
  • Increase in the property tax base
  • (Not mentioned:  increase in property tax rates)
Citizen Times / February 20, 2015
Innovation districts will bolster economic growth

Over the last few years Asheville has enjoyed a robust economy, a relatively low unemployment rate, and is becoming an increasingly popular place to live and work. Our city is growing; more of our people want to live closer to their jobs, to schools, shopping, restaurants and to transportation options. We are fortunate to be on this wave, but it is important that we manage our growth and opportunities in a smart and strategic way.

The city is bolstering the momentum of economic growth through the establishment of three new innovation districts. Innovation districts — also known as Municipal Service Districts — recognize the areas in our community where investment is already happening and have the potential to create even more opportunities alongside increasingly vibrant neighborhoods.

Citizen Times: Asheville Innovation Districts

Article Highlights
  • 'Innovation District' is another name for "Municipal Service District"; it just sounds nicer
  • Approved by the City Council in October 2014
  • Municipal Service Districts are: Charlotte Street, South Slope and River Arts District
  • Benefits: Gives better borrowing rates for the City
  • Cons: City can also levy additional property taxes
  • Two residential property owners in River Arts District dispute being included
  • Charlotte Street Pub does not want to be included and held responsible for the $3.5 million the City plans to borrow

Citizen Times / October 14, 2014
Asheville Council approves three ‘Innovation Districts’

Three areas of the city likely will get a significant boost in infrastructure and other improvements under a motion City Council passed Tuesday.

The seven-member board unanimously approved the creation of three Municipal Service Districts, or “innovation districts,” a move that allows the city to raise funds for improvements through special obligation bonds. The districts include the South Slope, an area bordering downtown; a 1-mile corridor along Charlotte Street north of Interstate 240; and the River Arts District.

The program gives the city favorable borrowing rates for projects. While an MSD is a special taxing district in which a city may levy additional property taxes, several city council members stressed they have no plans to institute additional taxes.

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Bars, bakery, more planned for River Arts District building

Article Highlights
  • Plans for 95-96-97 Roberts Street 60,000 sq ft building in River Arts District
  • Owner, Jesse Plaster, architect and developer
  • Plans include rooftop bar, restaurant, bakery, coffee roaster, retail wine and more
Citizen Times / January 20, 2015
Bars, bakery, more planned for River Arts District building

Asheville could get an eclectic new mix of local restaurants and food producers at 95 Roberts St.

"It's primarily going to be art studio spaces," said Jesse Plaster, an architect and developer of the massive River Arts District project.

But Plaster also expects a full-service restaurant, rooftop bar, bakery and coffee roaster, among other food-related businesses, to set up shop in the 60,000-square-foot building.

Those projects are still pending permits and final lease agreements, so Plaster couldn't yet talk specifics. But the assortment of businesses should "really draw the public in," he said.

Could a whitewater park come to River Arts District?

Article Highlights
  • Whitewater Park could come to River Arts District on the French Broad River
  • Study, "Site Visit and Conceptual Design Study, Asheville Whitewater Park" commissioned by S20 Design and Engineering Completed shows the French Broad River could accommodate an "instream" feature
  • The study cost $13,000 and was paid by the Asheville Parks and Greenways fund and other donors including Derek Turno, owner of Asheville Adventure Rentals, Harry Pilos of Delphi Management Group
  • Study estimates $1.8 million development cost and 4 year timeframe
  • There are 3 potential sites for the whitewater park
  • Next steps: New flood mapping and permitting would be required from FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under federal regulation

Citizen-Times / February 20, 2015
Could a whitewater park come to River Arts District?

Don't cry too long over possibly losing out on a giant slip-and-slide.

What might soon be splashing down the French Broad River will be something even bigger, better and splashier, supporters say. And it has the attention of everyone from Asheville's mayor to business and environmental leaders, to recreational kayakers, as an idea to permanently cement Asheville as the outdoor recreation hub of the Southeast.

Floated as an idea more than 20 years as part of the 1994 Wilma Dykeman Waterway Plan and adopted then by the city, plans to build an "in-stream" whitewater park in the French Broad River in downtown Asheville never really held water. But with an Olympic kayaker and professional whitewater park project consultant on board, the idea finally looks like it is on stable ground.

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Citizen Times: Riverfront 12 Bones Could be Condemned

Article Highlights

  • 12 Bones on Riverside Drive could be condemned
  • 12 Bones is one of President Obama's favorite food stops in Asheville
  • The City is using Federal Funds for the River Arts District project (also known as Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment)
  • The City will is doing a study to see if the 12 Bones property is "no longer commercially useful" [sic]
  • The owner of the property does not approve of this.
  • The 12 Bones owner did not know this could happen

This article is from the Asheville Citizen Times and posted February 13, 2015. Click here for article:

ASHEVILLE – A humble one-story brick building that quickly became a regional and national culinary landmark may be forced to close as part of a riverfront redevelopment plan.

The 12 Bones Smokehouse at 5 Riverside Drive brought a burst of life to what is now known as the River Arts District when it opened in 2005, sporting lines of patrons and gaining worldwide exposure when President Barack Obama ate there twice.

Now with the start of a multimillion-dollar project to redevelop areas along either side of the French Broad River, the 12 Bones site may have to make way for a new roundabout that is part of a plan to move Riverside Drive to the west, a city official said Friday. It's a move that's being contested by the property's owner, former Asheville Vice Mayor Chris Peterson.

Road and sidewalk construction is expected to take the western part of the property, including the restaurant's outdoor dining area. The construction wouldn't actually touch the building, Stephanie Monson Dahl, the city riverfront redevelopment office director, said. But because the project uses federal money, it must follow procedures that include a third-party assessment of whether the remaining property is an "uneconomic remnant."

"That is jargony for a parcel that isn't useful anymore as a commercial property," Dahl said. If that happens, the property is condemned and the city is obligated to pay the property owner.

Dahl said federal rules that regulate land acquisition expressly forbid her from saying whether or not she thinks that will happen. The third-party assessment should be done sometime between December 2015 and March 2016, she said.

Bryan King and his wife, Angela, own 12 Bones and lease the building from Peterson. The restaurant also has a scond location in Arden. King said the city and members of the Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission have been up-front and helpful. But, as the project is structured, he hadn't understood until now that the property might be condemned.

"It's definitely a little confusing, to say the least, as far as how things are going to proceed," he said.

King said if it were to happen, they would want to relocate in the River Arts District.

"The city has actually been very nice. They said we feel we are an integral part of the River Arts District. We feel the River Arts District is our home."