Can Asheville neighborhoods be popular and affordable?

A Gentrification study (Alternatives to Gentrification in East of the Riverway) was commissioned by the AARRC in February 2014 with a projected cost to the consultants of $25,000.  The study was completed in July 2014.  The Citizen Times wrote this article about it:

Article Highlights:
  • West End/Clingman, Southside and RAD are already in the "middle" stage of gentrification, a report for the city says.
  • The changes also raise questions about the long-term meaning of the word "arts" in the River Arts District, or RAD, the report found. 
  • Tax values are quadrupling (Roberts Street artist's tax value went from $65,000 in 2001 to $251,000 in 2014)
  • proportion of African Americans fell from 79 percent in 1990 to 56 percent in 2010 while the white population rose from 20.7 percent to 39.4 percent.
  • Pattiy Torno: "It has the potential to be a very serious threat to the River Arts District in terms of allowing it to maintain its reputation as an arts district," 
  • The city gentrification report lists several steps local government could take to create or preserve affordable housing and studio space in the area.
  • Artists who responded to a survey done for the gentrification study generally said they can afford their space now, but worried about how long that will be the case.
Future projects in the area that are likely to make matters worse:
  • Construction of greenways, landscaping, parking and sidewalks along 2.2 miles of Riverside Drive and Lyman Street between Hill Street and Amboy Road.
  • A greenway paralleling Clingman Avenue.
  • A greenway paralleling Town Branch, running from Depot Street east to McDowell Street.
  • RAD Lofts, a complex with 209 apartments and retail and office space on the former Dave Steel site between Clingman Avenue Extension and Roberts Street.
  • New Belgium Brewing's brewery and tasting center on the west bank of the French Broad River.
  • Street improvements on Craven Street near the New Belgium site and a greenway along the river in that area.
  • A roundabout at the intersection of Clingman Avenue Extension, Roberts Street and Lyman Street. 
Citizen Times / August 20, 2014
Can Asheville neighborhoods be popular and affordable?


After finishing his yard, one of JoAnn Skinner's Clingman Avenue neighbors used to roll his lawn mower down the street and, free of charge, cut the patch of grass in front of her house.

The man and his wife are gone now, and Skinner doesn't even know the names of some of her neighbors on Clingman, which connects downtown with the bustling River Arts District.

"They passed on. Their children went to college" and aren't coming back, she said. In many families with roots in the West End/Clingman Avenue neighborhood, "The children don't see a future for them in Asheville. It's basically a tourist town."

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