Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:
Question: I see it frequently posted on Reddit, Facebook, etc, that this is the last year for Salvage Station in its current form, with the expected start of the 240/Future 26/Patton Ave project (also known as the I-26 Connector). I think one of the flyover bridges is supposed to go right over or near where Salvage Station is now. Do you know what the venue’s plans are for relocating? I would hope that they have some space picked out because it’s by far my favorite venue in town, between the set-up and the acts they draw. And having them down and out for a while or permanently would leave a big hole in town. Seems like with the way it’s constructed it’d be not too hard to just pick up and move most of it? I’m going to the Leftover Salmon show there in October which might be their last ever outdoor show?
My answer: Speaking of salmon, I can tell you that when salmon goes bad in your refrigerator, you may just want to buy a new refrigerator. Trust me, it’s that bad. Not sure how I missed that clearly marked salmon package hiding in the back, but it turned real ugly.
Real answer: Salvage Station is indeed a wonderful venue, and I’ve enjoyed several shows there myself. So I am a little biased here in hoping it can be, well, salvaged.
Owner Danny McClinton said the reader’s question is indeed “very interesting.” At this point, McClinton said, he has no idea what the near future holds as far as the upcoming NCDOT project and how it will affect the venue.
“They (NCDOT) are not in communication with me,” McClinton said. “They have made an initial attempt to purchase the property from the owners, and the owners did not accept it.”
David Uchiyama, spokesperson for the Department of Transportation’s western region, said the DOT has talked with McClinton in the past about the upcoming project.
McClinton told me he did have an in-person talk with a DOT representative about a year and a half ago, but nothing concrete came out of it.
“They handed me a pamphlet and said, ‘We can give you $15,000 to move,’” McClinton said, adding that he wanted something in writing but has yet to receive anything. “They have not given me any information. Nothing.”
He also said moving poses major problems, logistically and financially, as the venue has large stages and several structures. Also, finding another similar site that’s suitable for concerts will be tough.
McClinton said the Connector plans call for a bridge passing over “a corner” of the property, so it’s possible they could stay. But again, he stressed, the DOT has not provided him with details.
For the meantime, McClinton said, “I’m already planning through 2024 — I’m already halfway through the year.”
Salvage Station employs about 30 full-time employees and probably about a hundred more for shows and events, McClinton said. The venue, which opened in 2016 at the former salvage yard, brings in hundreds of thousands of people every year for shows, so it’s an economic driver.
The business is growing at 40 percent a year, McClinton added, so they obviously want to keep it running.
Located on 1.88 acres at 468 Riverside Drive, the venue is bordered on the west by the French Broad River. It has a large outdoor stage that can accommodate 3,000 concert-goers, and an indoor stage that can hold 750 people.
The site is in a flood plain, according to Buncombe County property records, and has a total appraised value of $630,800.
I was unable to reach the property owner, listed as Terri Eury, by deadline.
Uchiyama noted that the DOT and its partners “are excited to see construction for the I-26 Connector projects on the immediate horizon.
“A lot of work is taking place right now before any equipment arrives,” Uchiyama said. “Right of way agents for NCDOT and its contractors are negotiating with nearly all property owners on three of the four sections associated with the I-26 Connector. And, relocation assistance agents are also working with tenants and business owners who rent at their current location.”
The NCDOT website for the $1.2 billion I-26 Connector project notes that it is “in development.” I’ll point out that this project, which will connect I-26 in southwest Asheville to Future I-26/U.S. 19/23/70 in northwest Asheville, has been in discussions since the 1990s, at least.
Plans call for seven miles of a median-divided freeway, accessible only by interchanges. The project involves five sections:
- An upgrade of I-240, as well as interchanges at Brevard Road and Amboy Road, from the I-26/I-240 interchange with I-40 to Haywood Road. This is called Section AA/AB.
- Initial improvements at I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange and along I-40 between I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange and U.S. 19/23 (Smokey Park Highway). This is Section AC.
- Building interstate on a new location from the Haywood Road interchange north across the French Broad River, tying into U.S.19/23/70 south of Broadway. This is Section B.
- Improvements to the I-40 interchanges with Smokey Park Highway, I-26/I-240 and Brevard Road. This is Section C.
- Improvements along Riverside Drive from Hill Street to Broadway Street. NCDOT is using concrete median barriers for the widening on I-26/I-240, instead of a grassed median to reduce necessary right-of-way. This is Section D.
Clearly, this is a mammoth project that is going to affect a lot of property owners.
“Agents have also started early negotiations with several property and business owners along the B-section of the project,“ Uchiyama said. “The design plans for each of the three A sections — from near Haywood Road on I-240 to beyond the Enka/Candler exit on I-40 — are essentially set, which allow agents to contact property owners.”
The B-Section will be a “design-build” project, Uchiyama said, which means a contractor “will produce a final design within NCDOT limits and then begin construction.
“Negotiations with several properties identified within this footprint from Haywood Road over the river to Broadway — properties and businesses that also have complex utility or complex relocation aspects — are already underway,” Uchiyama said. “These early negotiations will allow agents ample opportunity to concentrate on traditional negotiations after the B-section has been awarded to a contractor this winter.”
As far as a timeline, the DOT website may be a little optimistic. It states, “Construction begins for Initial improvements at I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange and along I-40 between I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange and Smokey Park Highway this Fall. Construction for Section AC (I-240 from I-40 to Haywood Road and initial improvements along I-40) starts in early 2024.
Uchiyama left a little wiggle room.
“The A-section contracts should be awarded this autumn and winter, followed soon by construction operations,” he said.
Regarding relocation and right of way acquisition processes, the DOT has a specific website for these issues. Also, Uchiyama said property and business owners with questions can contact the NCDOT Division 13 Right of Way office in Asheville at 828-274-8435.
As far as what happens with Salvage Station, I’ll keep you posted.
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