In what could be a good sign for the local economy, retail space at the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville is on the verge of being fully occupied for the first time since 2007.
With the most recent addition of The Watchmakers Shop, the Arcade now serves 35 locally-owned businesses, including a variety of stores, restaurants and galleries. Thai Basil recently closed its location in the building, but will soon be replaced by Thai Tara, another restaurant in the same location.
The Grove Arcade’s 42 luxury apartments are 100 percent occupied.
“I am so pleased to see the variety of offerings the Arcade has attracted,” says Ruth Summers, Executive Director of the Grove Arcade Public Market Foundation, in a press release. “Considering the ups and downs of the economy over the last few years, I am thrilled to see the Arcade full with this collection of outstanding merchants. It truly reflects the building’s original purpose.”
Conceived by E.W. Grove and completed in 1929, early tenants included everything from candy and cigar stores to fruit stands and barbershops. Grove envisioned a new kind of retail center in what he hoped would be "the most elegant building in America," according to the Arcade website.
However, the building stood in a state of disrepair in the decades following World War II. In more recent years, the Grove Arcade Public Market Foundation was formed to helped restore it. The building opened its renovated doors to the public in 2002.
Since then, many tenants have called it home, although only a handful are still operating there, including Asheville North Carolina Home Crafts, Enter the Earth, Fresh Quarter Produce, Marc Edward & Company Hair Design, Mountain Made, Mission at the Grove and True Confections.
“We were the first store to open on the inside of the building,” notes Melinda Knies, owner of Mountain Made. “The economy wasn't great but we worked hard and knew that the renovated Grove Arcade was going to anchor this end of downtown. Our location in the Arcade is an asset and a long way from empty halls and boarded up windows.”
The Grove Arcade is Western North Carolina's largest commercial building, according to a press release from the Public Market Foundation.