MENU
component-ddb-728x90-v1-01-desktop

Reality Check: When will final vision for the 'pit of despair' come?

According to a timeline presented to Asheville City Council, the city expects long-term planning for an empty lot across from the US Cellular Center to go through the summer of 2020. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

According to a timeline presented to Asheville City Council, the city expects long-term planning for an empty lot across from the US Cellular Center to go through the summer of 2020.

The City of Asheville bought the Haywood Street site in the early 2000s for about $2.5 million. Since then, different plans for the area have come and gone.

RELATED | City has ideas to transform pit of despair into spot for food, music and more

"You never want a big gaping hole in the middle of your prime downtown area. So, it needs to have something done with it," said Megan Tinkler, who was eating lunch across the street from the site.

The city is now accepting ideas from people and organizations for what they would do on a short term basis. Asheville's downtown development specialist said these events could start in August.

"It's really an opportunity for the city and community to learn together how to use this space. It hasn't been used in a long time. It's going to be a learning process," Dana Frankel, the downtown development specialist, said.

A citizen's advisory team started one year ago and recently presented its long-term vision to the city council. Andrew Fletcher chaired the team, which proposed having a large open space with private development.

"Not overwhelmed, but complemented by private development," Fletcher said.

Frankel said the city plans to award a planning and design contract to develop a master plan for the properties in early 2018 and expects the work of that contract to be finished later that year. A final design would need approval from city council.

In an update presented to city council, Frankel projected the temporary events would last for three years.

"We've got to do this one right. Good planning takes time, and we want to make sure the community has input every step of the way," Frankel said.

Fletcher is OK with waiting as long as the vision is good.

"Of course I'd like to see something here sooner rather than later, but if getting it right means we have to wait a little longer, whatever we get here is going to be here for a long time. It's important we get it right," Fletcher said.

Eventually, the city will rename the site. Right now, it's officially known as 68 Haywood Street, or as some call it "the pit of despair."

Trending