Few neighborhoods in Asheville are iconic as the South Slope. Few have also changed as much in recent years. But even with all the growth there, there are still plenty of empty lots in that neighborhood waiting to be developed. The city is beginning to plan what will come to the South Slope in the next decade, and residents can weigh in this weekend on what they want to see happen.
(UPDATE - Saturday morning's meeting has been canceled because of the weather. It will be rescheduled for a future date)
Saturday morning’s workshop at The Refinery at 207 Coxe Avenue isn’t going to be your typical public hearing on zoning. Asheville urban planner Sasha Vrtunski says after a short presentation on what their ‘visioning process’ is – essentially the plan that maps out what will go where in the South Slope in the future - they’ll break out the markers and crayons. “And then we’re going to break up into small groups with maps and actually get people to draw, or write in words if they want, what their current experience is in the area and what they want to see in the future", she says.
The South Slope’s history must be reflected in whatever planners come up with according to Vrtunski. It was once a predominantly African-American neighborhood, but all the new development in the area has wiped away much of that history. “We also want to hear from folks is how do we honor that history. There are still buildings around that we apart of that history. That had an African-American business or something happened there that was really important. And I think there is energy in the community to bring that forward.
Should they not feel like getting up on a Saturday morning to draw, the city does have a survey residents can take to offer input on its website. Vrtunski says the goal is to have a package of new zoning rules for the South Slope the city council can vote on sometime next summer.