ASHEVILLE – A Proposal new ingles grocery store on Patton Avenue cleared another hurdle on May 4, which means it will now go to the Asheville City Council for final approval, likely this month.
The city’s planning and zoning commission approved a requested rezoning for the project by a 5-to-1 vote, with council chairman Joe Archibald casting the only negative vote. While Archibald said the project “certainly revitalizes a place that needs to be revitalized,” he said he would like to get more community involvement in the project, as well as more assurances about tenant diversity. in the commercial spaces that will be built next to the Anglais.
Wyatt Stevens, an attorney representing Ingles, said he appreciated Archibald’s concerns and those of other commission members, but he also noted that “perfection is the enemy of good.” The project has been in the works for years, he added.
“Is that exactly what everyone would want? No,” Stevens said. “But this is what the community wants, the community in the immediate vicinity. This is what Ingles is willing to spend his capital to build. It will be much better than what exists. We are ready to move forward .
The new 88,584-square-foot store, which will include multiple attached retail stores and a detached gas station, passed the city’s technical review board in January. The city council will be the last obstacle.
The vote approved a conditional use permit change from road activity to commercial expansion. The commission added conditions that Ingles will work with the city and NCDOT to place a bus stop in the parking lot, and that Ingles rental representative John Spake will continue to work with the community to ensure a diversity of businesses sought after by this community are represented in the commercial spaces.
Commission member Kelsey Simmons pushed for diversity among tenants, saying she appreciates the rejuvenation of the area the project will bring.
“My only concern is the diversity of the project,” she said.
The new project, if approved by the city council, will involve the demolition of the existing old Kmart store and an outbuilding that was previously a car shop, as well as the re-grading of the car park to make it flatter.
Problematic Kmart building, says pastor
Only two people spoke during public comments on the draft, Pastor Patrick Creed of Temple Baptist Church and Ingrid Johnson, who is part of the Emma Neighborhood Council.
Creed said his church was “really excited about Ingles’ arrival,” partly because it will revitalize the site and create jobs, but also for safety reasons. Temple Baptist also operates a school on site, and it is very close to the abandoned Kmart.
“This year we had a man on our property who followed a little girl around her class,” Creed said. “He was a registered sex offender and he lived at Kmart. He’s now in jail.”
Several other people were arrested around the old Kmart due to drug-related activities, he said.
“The best bet for safety is to go ahead and do it,” Creed said.
Johnson read a letter from Emma’s ward council expressing support for Ingles.
“Ingles was extremely communicative and approachable throughout the zoning process,” Johnson said. “Their services as a grocery store, along with other retail businesses that will be brought to our area, are vital to our community.”
She also said the Ingles project is “much more in line” with the Emma community than previous plans for an “urban centre” which would have included housing.
Affordable housing in East Asheville is also progressing
The commission also approved a 70-unit affordable housing development for seniors on Swannanoa River Road, across from Walmart in East Asheville. The 2.5-acre site, which will be called Redwood Commons, will feature 16 two-bedroom apartments and 54 one-bedroom apartments rented at an average of 60% of the area’s median income.
The 70 units will be designated “affordable” for at least 30 years, and they will also accept vouchers from the City of Asheville Housing Authority, developers said. The site is just west of the Aldi grocery store, near the intersection with Governor’s View Road.
The commission voted 5 to 1 to approve the conditional rezoning from “river” to “residential expansion”. Commission member Brenton Faircloth cast the only ‘no’ vote, after raising concerns about the project asking not to pay ‘fees in lieu’ totaling around $70,000. $, for the reduction of tree plantations.
A project engineer, Thomas Mannino of McGill Associates, told the commission that the site conditions “are quite staggering”, as they include a watercourse diversion and lots of fill material to take it out of the floodway. . Flow mitigation alone will amount to $200,000, Mannino said, a significant sum for an affordable housing project.
Neighbor Sue McConnell was the only audience member to speak. One homeowner, McConnell, said the project’s traffic impact could “affect community safety” because Governor’s View Road is narrow and has a blind curve in the area. Also, the intersection of Governor’s View and Swannanoa River Road is prone to flooding, she said, and it could be dangerous for drivers.
Other commission members expressed concerns about the building’s aesthetics, saying it looked “too institutional” and “hotel-like”, but the developer, Steve Sceranka, assured that adjustments to the board of directors could be made. He also said the appearance changes came from suggestions from the city’s technical review board, which had previously approved the project.
Sceranka is director of housing development in the southeast housing division of the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, which builds only affordable housing. It owns or manages more than 4,000 units in 11 states.
The need for housing in the Asheville area is critical, with extremely low vacancy rates for apartments. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18.1% of Asheville’s estimated 2020 population of 94,589, or about 17,120 people, are 65 and older.
Commission Member Geoffrey Barton said affordable housing is “desperately” needed in Asheville, noting that some 7,500 local households spend 50% of their income on rent alone. He then asked Sceranka, “Are we doing enough to make life easier for developers like you?”
Sceranka said, “Rezoning is the challenge”, as well as “the challenge of NIMBYism” or “Not in my back yard” attitudes.
Commission member Jenifer Bubenik raised concerns about resident parking, as well as a crosswalk on Swannanoa River Road, which she says has a fast timer that older people may find difficult to navigate. To do. As part of the approval, the developer agreed to contact the NCDOT regarding the crosswalk and its timing.
This project will also be submitted to the municipal council for a final vote.