Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:
Question: The Sona Pharmacy on Long Shoals Road seems to have been under construction forever. What has been the delay, and when is it expected to open?
My answer: I think this question could apply to every building project in the region: “(Blank) seems to be taking forever to build. What’s the delay?” It is good for the Answer Man game, though.
Real answer: This project, located at 106 Long Shoals Road in front of Lake Julian Park, has indeed been on the books for a while. It’s in the city of Asheville limits, and the permit file states, “City staff began processing this application on August 26, 2020. This project has been approved and the city has issued permits to begin construction.”
The 14,364-square-foot building on a lot that’s just under an acre is coming along now, but Sona clearly overshot its plans to open in early 2023, as the company website states.
“We are also eagerly awaiting its completion!” said Taylor Toomey, director of marketing for Sona, said via email.
“This new location will allow us to service even more retail and compounding pharmacy patients across western North Carolina,” Toomey said. “It will have a compounding pharmacy with sterile and non-sterile labs, a retail pharmacy, carside prescription pick up, home delivery, and another primary-care physician’s office (just like our location on Fairview Road), being operated and staffed by Pardee BlueMD.”
So, what has taken so long? It’s a familiar story in the development world today.
“In regards to the delays, unfortunately, we have run into some vendor and supply chain issues,” Toomey said. “Much of the specialized equipment and pharmacy-specific building components have been affected by ongoing supply chain issues. That, combined with regular construction delays, has put us behind on this project.”
The good news is the building is going to be completed.
“There are no issues with the ability to finish the project,” Toomey said. “We are simply in an unfortunate position of progressing slower than we would like due to forces outside of our control.”
That means they do not have a firm completion date yet.
Sona is an independent, community pharmacy that dates to 2005 and an original location on Tunnel Road in Asheville. Initially called Blue Ridge Pharmacy, it transitioned to Sona Pharmacy in 2016, choosing that name because, “It’s evocative of listening, and it’s more abstract, modern nature exemplifies their fresh, new approach to healthcare,” according to Sona’s website.
The company is based in Asheville, with locations on Tunnel Road and Fairview Road. If you’d like updates from Sona or more information, visit its website.
Question: My hiking crew, who regularly discusses current events while hiking the miles, ended up on a long conversation about the homelessness happening everywhere. A good friend passed on, from a solid source (so she said) that Asheville has sent at least one bus of homeless folks to Brevard. I felt this was really off base. I’ve heard about this in other cities of course. Plus there’s Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott with their regular shipments of immigrants to other cities, but still. We discussed the great series you guys did on the problems in downtown Asheville, but I wondered if you could respond to this.
My answer: What’s amazing to me about these kinds of incidents is there are never any photos or video or recordings of any kind of this happening — in a world where everyone carries a phone/camera/video recorder on them pretty much 24/7. My favorite was a “news report” of two busloads of Antifa being dropped off at the Harris Teeter in Asheville in 2020, but nobody saw anything. Miraculous!
Real answer: In my nearly three decades of reporting around here, I’ve not heard of confirmed reports of homeless being bussed in or out of the city. I’ve heard plenty of rumors, however, but I believe they have become the stuff of urban legend, mainly for the reasons I listed above.
Folks often have a “solid source” on these, but it’s often not an actual name they recall or can share with a reporter. It’s often a “friend of a friend,” or “somebody who knows a cop pretty well.”
In short, the tips don’t pan out.
I did, however, check with Emily Ball, manager of the city of Asheville’s Homeless Strategy Division.
“Asheville does not have a program or process to bus people without housing to other communities,” Ball said via email. “We commonly hear this concern, both about people arriving here and from other cities wondering if we have bussed people to them.”
It is important to remember that our society generally does not stop people from moving from place to place.
“People experiencing homelessness are mobile and autonomous and may move into and out of communities, just like people with housing do, but there’s no structured or intentional effort beyond that natural migration,” Ball said. “Occasionally, groups like service providers or faith communities may help facilitate transportation for people who are trying to get back to a home community or to a friend or relative who has offered them a place to stay, but those are cases of positive resolution of homelessness rather than irresponsible ‘shipping’ of people who lack resources.”
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