Answered: Where locals want affordable housing, according to our readers

You told us which empty buildings could be converted into affordable housing.

Asheville-historic-downtown-avltoday-@justintclark

Hundreds of readers shared the vacant local spaces they believed could be affordable homes.

Photo by @justintclark

Table of Contents

Recently, we asked you which vacant commercial spaces around town you’d recommend be converted to affordable housing. You know, the empty buildings you pass every day on your morning commute and think “that would make a great blank.” As usual, you did not disappoint. Here are two of the many spots you thought could make hot homes.

The hot spots

AVLtoday_kmart_patton_avenue

The West Asheville property includes the 88,000-sqft store.

Photo by AVLtoday

1001 Patton Ave., submitted by 10+ readers
This former Kmart and surrounding storefronts were purchased by Ingles Markets in 2019, and a conditional zoning request was approved by the City of Asheville in May 2022. When asked for an update on the potential project in October 2023, Ingles CFO Pat Jackson told WLOS that it was company policy not to speculate on future development.

Exterior of Innsbruck Mall

The Innsbruck Mall is a total of 213,00 sq ft and was built in 1966.

Photo by AVLtoday

85 Tunnel Rd., submitted by 10+ readers
The Innsbruck Mall isn’t entirely vacant — there are open stores on the ground level — but it does have several empty storefronts and lots of open space in the multistory building. The property was bought by an Ingles-affiliated company, Sky King Inc., in 2020, and Jackson declined to comment to the Asheville Citizen-Times on the development.

The big picture

In case you missed it, the White House recently released a new plan to convert vacant commercial buildings into residential housing through resources like:

  • Grants: Funding from the government can help cover the costs of land acquisition and construction. For example, the Community Development Block Grant Program provides annual grants to fund housing projects.
  • Land dispositions: Transferring property to local governments, non-profits, and for-profit developers can reduce the cost of affordable housing.
  • Taxes: When transforming office space into housing, systems like plumbing, heating, and cooling typically need replacing. This can be an opportunity to make improvements to energy efficiency — which can be rewarded with tax incentives and credits.

There are more resources than we could possibly list — 20+ programs across multiple agencies. Good thing all the current federal resources are consolidated into this guidebook.

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