9/26/2007 - Montford Gets Bigger
by Asheville Citizen Times
ASHEVILLE - Montford will grow by 220 homes, developers say, now that the city has approved plans for an urban-village style development in the historic neighborhood.
Montford has been the site of past battles over development, but at the council meeting, even people who raised some objections praised the planned community that will include 102 apartments, 81 homes for the elderly and single-family homes.
Offices and stores also will be part of the development that is within walking distance of downtown.
Several residents said it was the type of place they wanted to move to.
"It's a place we can walk. It's got some green space. It's close to town. It's got a nice creek area," Robert Howarth said.
Bill Bailey of East Asheville said he liked the idea of being able to walk to downtown. He called the project "one of the finest things I have seen since I've been in Asheville."
The project is expected to cost at least $100 million. It is surrounded by Chamber of Commerce and Montford Avenue to the east, Dickson School to the west and Hill Street and Interstate 240 to the south.
Developers Frontier Syndicate engaged in a series of meetings with residents and neighborhood groups. They originally planned a high-rise hotel, but opposition from residents and lack of interest by hoteliers scrapped that plan.
Some residents said they liked the idea of the development but thought the property acquisition was heavy-handed and could have involved them more.
Hill Street resident Doug Brock said he and four other residents had wanted their property to be part of the rezoning for new building rules, but developers decided not to include them.
"Overall it is a great project. ... There has been just a little bit of a squeeze play going on," Brock said.
Developer George Gabler said he and others worked for years to acquire property from 48 landowners and tried to communicate with everyone.
Such a project, Gabler said, "takes an amazing amount of good fortune and we hope good will on our part."