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Improvement plans for Asheville's 'Pit of Despair' delayed

The lot at 68 Haywood Street in downtown Asheville on April 23, 2018. Plans to improve the lot, also known as the "Pit of Despair," have been put on hold for now. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Plans to improve the lot at 68 Haywood Street in downtown Asheville, also known as the "Pit of Despair," have been put on hold for now.

The city finance committee made the decision on Monday afternoon, citing timing issues.

The long-vacant lot, owned by the city for 12 years, is located across the street from the U.S. Cellular Center and the Basilica of St. Lawrence Church.

Part of the improvement plan involves $341,000 thousand-worth of consultant services, including a survey.

Asheville's Interim City Manager Cathy Ball said the city is in the middle of balancing the budget right now, and wants to revisit the issue during the first quarter of the fiscal year, which is mid-October. Ball said the finance committee will have a better idea of what kind of expenses the city can afford by then.

She added that city leaders remain committed to upgrading the property that has been vacant for nearly a decade.

"The finance committee did say they were fully committed to moving forward on this project," Ball said. "The timing of this and how it fell with our budget processing made it difficult to recommend approving a budget for that amount."

Part of the "Pit of Despair" is being used as a community garden where food trucks also gather. Ball said she hopes the gardening and food truck activity pick up in the summer while city leaders wait to move forward on the upgrades.

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