12/31/2012 - 2012 Asheville trends will expand, define 2013
by Carol Motsinger - Asheville Citizen Times
This past year has certainly been a busy year in local business. And I don't anticipate the action in Asheville to slow down at all in 2013.
I have some predictions to share about what the headlines are going to be in the new year. But some of these aren't exclusively forecasts -- these prophesies based on major 2012 developments.
o Cheers to the craft beverage: 2012 may well be the Year of Beer in Asheville due to the announcements of three major breweries opening Eastern region operations in WNC. But I have a feeling the big news on the craft beverage front next year will be better suited for a cocktail glass than a stein.
A hard cider company -- Noble Cider -- plans to launch in the summer. Troy and Sons Distillery continues to grow and recently debuted a whiskey. The Riverbend Malt House plans to expand to meet the growing demand from craft brewers for its locally farmed, artisan malts (some of which are being used in a whiskey for Blue Ridge Distilling Co.).
Blue Kudzu Sake is getting ever closer to debuting its locally made sake. According to the company's Facebook page, batches of the rice wine are fermenting as you read this. And I wouldn't be shocked if a few local gin companies start operations. We've heard word at the Citizen-Times for a while about a couple of gin producers getting into the craft beverage game.
I also anticipate the next wave of craft beverage producers -- beer brewers included -- to make their first steps toward toasting a glass in 2013. Remember that The Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast should open at A-B Tech in the fall.
o The new downtown business district: Buxton Avenue, and the surrounding neighborhood just south of downtown, is already emerging as a new home for expanding and innovative business.
The street welcomed the expansion of Lexington Avenue's French Broad Chocolate Lounge this year: The French Broad Chocolate Factory and Tasting Room. Green Man Brewing also expanded in 2012 and will use even more property for warehousing in the new year. Earlier this month, a new restaurant was announced for the street in 2013: Buxton Hill Barbecue.
Burial Beer will also open in 2013 on Collier Avenue just off Buxton Avenue, according to a report on the company's Twitter account.
There's a lot of buzz building for Buxton, but space for buildings is limited. I bet that the surrounding streets, especially those south of Buxton, will continue to be developed.
Murals, of course, continued to beautify buildings and businesses around Asheville. Some of my favorites include Dustin Spagnola's tiger on the future site of New Belgium near the River Arts District and Julie Armbruster in the Montford park at Flint and Magnolia.
Asheville's mural movement matured significantly in 2012, with more collaborations with local school leaders and business owners. I feel as if almost every time I run down Haywood Road I notice more murals on businesses (BJ's gas station, for one).
I think the mural profile will only continue to rise in 2013. I anticipate more collaborations between artists for bigger and better projects.
Some larger cities with vibrant artist communities are home to high-rises completely covered with original art. That trend will come to Asheville, and murals will get massive -- think instead of downtown mural corridor, Chicken Alley, recast as Dinosaur Drive.