Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:

Question: Did we hear correctly during the recent City Council meeting on Dec. 13 that the 185 Coxe Avenue mixed use development is now dead? Listening to the Stoneyard Apartments developer address the council regarding his project in the River Arts District, he indicated that the developers of that project, 185 Coxe, have now pulled the plug on the apartments after building the garage, due to extreme difficulties of the site. He further stated that they have placed the property back on the market. Is this true, as that is prime property?

My answer: On a positive note, the city has long needed a gigantic standalone concrete parking deck dominating its southern skyline.

While a large parking deck on the South Slope is largely finished, the remainder of the property, slated for hundreds of apartments, is being marketed as an investment opportunity. // Watchdog photo by John Boyle

Real answer: It looks like it is for sale, not dead. But first, let’s hit the records. In this case, that means the recording of the meeting at which Brian Schick, the developer who brought this up, spoke. For the record, Schick is with a different development company, Woodfield Development, which is building the aforementioned apartments in the RAD.

Here’s what he said at the meeting: “Y’all are probably aware of the challenges on where they built the site of the garage on the South Slope on Coxe Avenue. That developer is now selling the site. The garage is built, but apartments will not be built because of the challenges there.”

Back in April, while at the Citizen Times, I wrote about this project, noting the delays in getting the parking deck built, and how the construction company had to hire a consultant and install a “revised foundation” on the parking deck after hitting some unstable soil.

Tribute Construction & Development erected this parking deck, which was delayed by foundation problems, between Coxe and Asheland avenues in Asheville South Slope. The deck appears to be nearing completion. // Watchdog photo by John Boyle

Tribute Construction & Development, based in Wilmington, N.C., is the developer on the project, billed as a $90 million mixed-use offering that would bring the parking deck and 488 apartments to the South Slope. In that previous article, I noted that Asheville City Council in December 2019 approved the project, which is supposed to include 86,000 square feet of office and commercial space, as well as the parking deck.

I recently sent emails and left messages for officials with Tribute and its president, Mark Maynard, but didn’t hear back. The properties in question are owned by two corporations, and both list Maynard as “manager.”

Stopping by to snap some pictures in mid-December, work continued on the deck, but no apparent construction on the apartments had started.

It’s also worth noting that this project is actually much more visible from Asheland Avenue, which runs parallel to Coxe.

The property is apparently for sale. Berkadia Proprietary Holding LLC in Charlotte, is marketing it as “Ironwood South Slope,” located at 185 Coxe Ave, a “Luxury Class A development in the heart of downtown Asheville.”

Some site work has been completed in the area where apartments are slated to be built as part of a large development between Coxe and Asheland avenues in Asheville’s South Slope area. // Watchdog photo by John Boyle

Berkadia specializes in investment sales, mortgage banking and loan servicing, according to its website.

The online listing states that site work is underway and construction is complete on a 552-space, income-producing parking deck ($20/day; $130/month). “Permits in hand for 246-unit Phase I (7 stories).”

A second phase, the listing states, is zoned for another 242 units, with 488 units total allowed by right. Also, the project has 45,000 square feet of ground floor retail and includes a “land-use incentive grant:” a partial 10-year tax abatement in exchange for 10% affordability restriction at 80% of AMI, or Area Median Income.

I checked in with the city of Asheville’s Development Services Department about the site.

“The city has not received any request to withdraw, invalidate or transfer the currently issued development permits,” Chris Collins, planning & development division manager with the city, said via email. “That is likely the only way we would know officially of a change in the project.”

Rusty Pulliam, president of Pulliam Properties in Asheville, a commercial property development company not affiliated with the project, said the South Slope site is a valuable commodity, especially since the city already has permitted it.

“I think the multiple-family part of it would end up getting built,” Pulliam said, noting that a developer could transfer plans to a new owner.

Pulliam, who has built or partnered on several local apartment developments, said he’s had no direct conversations with Tribute company officials, so he’s unsure of their plans.

But he fully expects to see a developer build out the project as demand for apartments, especially near downtown, is high, and the vacancy rate extremely low.

“They’ll find somebody,” Pulliam said. “I can promise you that.”


Got a question? Send it to John Boyle at  jboyle@avlwatchdog.org or 828-337-0941.

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12 Comments

  1. Another Esther Manheimer debacle! Maybe this eyesore can become the new home of the TDA…or an “Affordable Hotel” (BYO amenities). Or we can stack Homeless like cord wood. Should hold a coupla’ thou’. We can partner with Greg Abbott for new tenants. Definitely can hold Kite Flying Tournaments off the roof, as all trees are neatly removed! Great Work by the Manheimer Team!

  2. Was the developer not aware beforehand that much of the south slope is built on landfill generated from the removal of the hill downtown where the original Battery Park Hotel (and now the Grove Arcade) stood? Surprise!

    1. Good reporting John. I would imagine our city leaders/inspectors knew about the instability of the land in this area when it was sold. It’s common knowledge that Asheville and the surrounding area was built up over landfill debris.

  3. Looking in from the outside, this project seems like another poorly conceived approval by City Council. Much like the abortive “Low barrier homeless shelter” plan for the Ramada Inn, these decisions were made by people with little expertise and are willing to accept the opinions of people and groups with a vested interest in profiting from the approvals.

  4. Coxe Avenue was once a ravine; when Battery Hill was reduced to build the still existing Battery Park Hotel (the highest ground in downtown Asheville), the earth removed was used to fill in the ravine that is now Coxe Avenue. For many years, Coxe Avenue was synonymous with buying an automobile in Asheville; if Coxe Avenue or buying a car came up in conversation, someone would assume that an auto purchase was being planned.
    For many years, Coxe was used almost exclusively for used car lots; in the early days of automobiles in Asheville, there were several auto dealerships on Coxe; the old buildings remain, up in the blocks towards the center of town, and can still be identified by their large glass picture windows.
    Why is that important now? With the Coxe Avenue site foundation in question, it suggests that filling that ravine is coming back to haunt Asheville, a hundred years later. Nowadays, good fill dirt is red clay, compacted with heavy equipment; a century ago, they simply removed a high hill where a Civil War cannon battery once guarded the town, and dumped it in a ravine, creating Coxe Avenue. There was probably a stream running through there as well; ravines are often formed by water. It may still be there, buried long ago and channeled elsewhere, but still lurking underneath the questionable fill dirt.
    Now that history is impacting growth in unlikely places, generations later.

  5. They could fill in the land with all the dirt from the Pratt Whitney plant site. It is currently at a site on Airport Road.

  6. Ninety million for 488 apartments? That’s about $190,000 each. Let’s allow a 25% profit margin and we get around $240,000. Can’t wait to see that happening.

  7. The lessons learned in creating the new Isaac Dickson Elementary School seem to have been lost on out-of -town developers. Filling up ravines was historically achieved – not just in Asheville- with abandoned cars, industrial machinery, commercial and municipal trash, railroad ties and rails, lots of stumps, etc. with no meaningful compaction, no thought to venting gases produced by breakdown of organic materials, no thought to water needing to find a way to go downhill to the river. Deep cast-in-place pilings are the only feasible solution and those are expensive undertakings , drilling through whatever is buried. But somebody will do it soon enough.

  8. Another well thought out plan by our city leaders. Our tax dollars at work.
    Can we convert it somehow to another water reservoir? Goodness knows we need more water infrastructure before anything else is built anywhere in a 20 mile radius of the city.

  9. People don’t listen or maybe they can’t hear because all anybody does in this town is dimwittedly blindly stupidly scream about how ‘we need more housing at any cost’ just to prop up tourism and restaurants to feed visitors but historically mostly have not paid living wages…A plague on all your houses!

  10. May I suggest a new topic? PLEASE investigate the REAL reasons behind the
    Asheville water shortage. I don’t believe that two nights of super-cold temps would cause the damage. There has to be more to it than that…………….

  11. Well. Every time I drive down Asheland, I wonder what the ugly gray structure is going to be. I can’t understand why City Council approved such an eyesore.

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