public interest projects
About 20 years ago, when a group of residents, business owners, local-government staff and elected officials were trying to revive a largely derelict downtown Asheville, “It was discouraging when we saw things printed in the newspaper like, ‘All they’re doing is moving the chairs around on the deck of the Titanic.’” That’s how Tops for Shoes co-owner Bob Carr, speaking at a Feb. 28 Asheville Downtown Association celebration, described the early days of the revitalization effort.
After two and a half hours of public debate and discussion on Jan. 25, Asheville City Council members gave the go-ahead for a parking-deck, hotel development at 51 Biltmore Ave. in downtown. The project passed 5-2, with Council members Cecil Bothwell and Gordon Smith voting against it.
In dueling statements, the advocacy group People Advocating Real Conservancy and the developer Public Interest Projects have weighed in on the proposed 51 Biltmore project. PARC is calling it a "boondoggle — a misuse of public funds," while PIP (which own the land), call PARC's statements inaccurate and defend the development as necessary to improve downtown.
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