If you know anything about insider trading, you know it's illegal because that person used confidential information to trade on stocks and gain an advantage. Unfortunately, people are tempted to do this because of the vast amount of money to be made. In short, greed. And, who can blame them. Through our research, we began to discover a similar practice occurring in the Riverside Drive Riverfront Redevelopment plan.
It began with New Belgium - 2011/2012
The addition of New Belgium, together with the Tiger II grant of $14 million has created a sudden interest in an area of Asheville that for a long time was not popular - the River Arts District (aka RAD). It has been known as "gritty" and "industrial" which is what many of the artists and current businesses like about the place. Unfortunately, it has suddenly become the "company" everyone wants to buy and sell.
While it is not illegal to buy and sell property based on information you have about the future development of an area (that's how you make money in real estate or stocks), it is questionable whether such persons should also serve on public Boards and Commissions that plan and dictate what will happen in those same areas. Afterall, these are lands owned by the City of Asheville and/or by taxpaying citizens of Asheville. Shouldn't the folks serving on the City Boards and Commissions be putting the best interests of the citizens of Asheville first? We shouldn't have to worry about that.
The AARRC requires having at least two RAD property owners on the Commission but at this point, we cannot find one member of the commission whose property will be negatively impacted by these Riverfront Redevelopment Plans. Instead, there are many that will gain from it. In the corporate world, we call that a Conflict of Interest.
Perhaps they should have sought the perspective of tenants or owners who will actually lose something in order to get their input. It's easy to give away property that isn't yours. If our information is incorrect on this, please send us an email and let us know. We want to know what you think or what you have agreed to.
So, in the next few weeks we'll be writing about the "insider trading" and conflicts of interest that's going on in the AARRC.
We are also not against what having New Belgium means to Asheville but it also invites a lot of greed. Here's how greed has affected the Riverfront plan:
Old vs. New Plan
If you compare the Riverfront Redevelopment Plan of 2005 (a year after the 2004 flood) to the 2014 version (my how soon we forget), you will see one major change - the new focus on development - hotels, increased rents, 4 and 5 story buildings directly on the French Broad. The original plan prepared mostly by Riverlink and those truly concerned about the French Broad focused upon the river, flooding issues, maintaining the "vibe" and such.
Vacant buildings and property in the floodway are not able to be redeveloped and present safety and blighting problems for surrounding businesses and for the community as a whole. Acquisition of these properties would allow redevelopment as greenway sections or small riverside parks.The new plan adopted August 2014 doesn't even include a section on "Safety, Environmental or Flooding". It focuses completely on how to develop the 10 acres the City owns along the River. Property they originally acquired for greenway plans, not a road and not development. This is a Developer's Brochure.
Property Rights: Whose Are They? Case Example