New Asheville development to combine public transit with affordable housing

Photo by @avlblakestakes

At its May 25 meeting, Asheville City Council voted to budget $1.325 million for the purchase of a $2.57 million, 0.9-acre parcel of land at 50 Asheland Ave. in downtown Asheville. Why? To create a new and improved transit center that will also include affordable housing, commercial use + other public space

The vision of this “transit-oriented” project, which is receiving $1.25 million in support from Dogwood Health Trust, is also guided by the City’s established goal of advancing racial + socioeconomic equity in an area of town that has been historically impacted by red-lining practices.

Map of 50 Asheland Ave. | Photo courtesy of City of Asheville

And because the development sits directly next to public transit, the City also hopes it will reduce the area’s carbon footprint while making public transportation more easily accessible

While the construction timeline and number of affordable units is still up in the air, we’ve got some fast facts about the project: 

  • City officials got the idea for this “transit-oriented” development project from existing models in places like L.A. and Silver Spring, MD, where there’s a need for higher density development + more affordable housing.
  • The land, a.k.a. the “Talbert Lot,” is presently being used as a 120-space parking lot for downtown employees and has been leased by the City of Asheville since July 2018
  • The parcel, which sits next to Bella Fine Jewelry and Piercing and the existing ART Transit station, creates a sum total of ~1.5 acres of city-owned land near Coxe Ave
  • The City aims to develop the plans with racial equity in mind, which could include potential partnerships with a community land trust, Black-owned business space, or ‘Purpose Built’ type of structure. 
  • According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, the project is a response to a severe shortage of affordable housing, and reflects the city’s goal to get more than 870 affordable units built by the end of 2021.