4/8/2013 - Asheville's South Slope on the rise
by Jason Sandford Mackensy Lunsford - Asheville Citizen Times
ASHEVILLE -- The pioneers are pioneering again, and the new frontier is a couple of city blocks just south of the city's already booming downtown.
Consider John and Julie Stehling, owners of Early Girl Eatery, which opened in downtown 2001, just as the central business district began its comeback.
Now the downtown stockholders for 11 years have placed themselves among the pioneers of a new neighborhood. Work will soon begin on their new King Daddy's Chicken and Waffle, a new restaurant concept coming to Collier Street. The turn toward soul on the South Slope is not entirely new to Asheville. It's what the Stehlings have done for years with Early Girl, which focuses on scratch-made Southern food with local flavor.
"What we do is very Asheville," John said. "People have been curing their meats and preserving their vegetables for years up here in the mountains. We're just an extension of that scene."
What a scene the South Slope is shaping up to be. Nine new projects, all fall within a stone's throw of one another in an area known as the South Slope, have been announced or are already well underway. The area roughly bounded by Asheland, Biltmore and Southside avenues. Five of the ventures are restaurant and brewery operations aimed directly at building on Asheville's reputation and a destination for craft beer and local food.
Taken together, the enterprises represent millions of dollars of new investment in an area that, while it has seen some new development in recent years, has been largely overlooked.Business owners and real estate experts say the area is ripe for new activity because of its close-knit feel, lower real estate prices and the fact that the rest of the central business district is largely built out. The growth boom has sparked a few concerns, as well, from some downtown proponents who are worried about the mix of businesses coming to the area, as well as its aging infrastructure.
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