1/7/2013 - Asheville's south slope poised for growth
by Jason Sandford - Asheville Citizen Times
Asheville's south slope poised for growth
ASHEVILLE -- Banks Street is one forlorn avenue.
Nearly every building on the street is abandoned. A few are downright decrepit. Most have been tagged with graffiti. Some old billboards remain painted on the building brick, signs like "Standard Paper Sales" and "Berkeley Lighting," which harken back to previous uses.
The wide street runs off Coxe Avenue just south of downtown Asheville in an area generally known as the south slope. Some folks refer to the slope as "SoHi" for south of Hilliard Avenue, and I've had one person suggest "SoSlo" for south slope.
A nickname has yet to stick, but it may soon. That's because new development there is starting to pick up momentum. For the past couple of years, Buxton Avenue, a street that runs parallel to, and is just south of, Banks Street has been a draw for those seeking a new frontier.
The Prospect bar and Dirty Jack's, the tasting room and brewing operation for Green Man Brewing (which just expanded), populate Buxton, along with the French Broad Chocolate 's new factory and Eagle's Nest Outfitters, the makers of hammocks and other outdoor gear.
First up on Banks Street is a new barbecue restaurant. Elliott Moss, an accomplished chef, is planning to open Buxton Hill later this year. Next in the works is Burial Beer Co., which plans to start a small pilot brewing operation on Banks.
There could be more in the works with the recent sale of two parcels of property -- a vacant lot on Coxe Avenue and the adjacent Chrysler Building, which sits on the corner of Coxe and Buxton. The vacant lot a few years ago was planned to be the location of a 13-story residential condo building called Zona Lofts. Both properties were owned by the same developer and went through foreclosure proceedings.
The growth of downtown Asheville toward the south will also likely get a boost from the opening last summer of a big new public parking deck on the south end of Biltmore Avenue. The deck is hidden below the new Aloft Hotel, but bu siness owners are already seeing increased traffic in the area because of the boutique hotel and the new parking.
Wicked Weed Brewing will likely be another south-end magnet. The gastropub opened last weekend on Biltmore Avenue next door to The Orange Peel night club. Customers eager to get in lined up out the door and down the sidewalk during the holiday break.
Developers and business owners are always looking for the next hot spot, the next great location. It looks like the south slope of downtown currently has that territory staked out.