On April 19th 1980, citizens of Asheville rallied to stop a swath of downtown from becoming a shopping mall. They tied together pieces of cloth and outlined the proposed 11-block development, calling it “The Wrap.”
Preservationists and community activists are bringing back that same method to save a historic stretch of the Charlotte Street neighborhood.
They’re calling it, “The Wrap, II.”
“We’re going to tie all the material together and then we’re going to walk around the perimeter of the property, to show how large an area this is,” Callie Warner, Asheville native and neighborhood activist, said. "This is the largest demolition in the history of Asheville that has been decided by council,and not by a highway coming in."
The proposed development would take up about seven acres along the 100 block of Charlotte St. The construction would effectively demolish at least a dozen historic homes and in their place, erect a mixed-use development containing more than 180 apartments, a parking garage, and space for office and retail. The developer has pledged that 10 percent -- or 18 of the housing units, would be affordable to align with 80 percent of the area's median income.
Warner says the decision to knock down existing homes is a continuation of Asheville's past of redlining and marginalizing the Black community -- the same year the City Council passed a commitment to reparations for Black residents.
“When you have affordable housing that is currently in place, why would you want to displace more people?," Warner asked. "They’re displacing the very thing that they claim they want to have.”
Council has yet to take up the project for rezoning. It comes with a favorable recommendation from the city’s planning and zoning commission, following a split vote on June 2.
Meantime, Warner and neighborhood advocates are planning to meet at Sunset Park on Saturday morning to tie bed sheets, march down Charlotte St. and “Wrap” the proposed construction site -- just like activists did downtown 41 years ago.