Opinions divided over Trestle Crossing development in Black Mountain

Merchants in Black Mountain have mixed feelings about a three-story building project called Trestle Crossing that has received the green light from the zoning board. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Merchants in Black Mountain have mixed feelings about a three-story building project called Trestle Crossing that has received the green light from the zoning board.

Developer Joe Cordell, an attorney from Missouri, hopes to break ground next spring. He bought two adjacent lots in February for a little more than $1 million. City staff said Cordell paid $612,000 for a 0.31-acre parcel at 120 Broadway that houses the Dobra Tea and $483,000 for the adjacent, 0.18-acre lot, that houses the historic Ice House building.

The development's website shows plans for fine-dining and 12 vacation condos within a three-story building in a project that was rejected by the Historic Preservation Commission.

"I'm sad to see this start to happen to Black Mountain," said Jean Franklin, who has owned Black Mountain Books and Cases with her husband for the past 18 years.

Franklin fears the project could be a first step of new buildings to come.

"We have about 50 shops nestled in this area of three to four streets. So, this is a giant building that is going to dwarf the downtown," Franklin said.

Mike Begley, who served as Black Mountain's mayor in the 1980s and from 1997-2005, is Cordell's attorney. He said there are a number of merchants who haven't been the vocal majority but who support downtown development and the draw to try and attract more tourists to the small town.

"There's been a lot of comment and passion over it being a three-story building," said Begley. "Three stories, is acknowledged, as part of what fits in the district."

The project will have retail on the ground floor, a restaurant with a roof-top dining room and 12 vacation condos.

"This is going to add a whole lot of health to our downtown district," said Begley.

One merchant who spoke off-camera is also in favor of the project. She said downtown needs the traffic and that her store has had the worst October sales in five years.

But Franklin, who clearly loves having her bookstore, is not pleased about the vista or the building that will go up.

"Everyone on Cherry Street is going to look out on a concrete wall. We used to go into Asheville all the time, and now traffic is so much worse and hotels are everywhere. And I hate to see that kind of development from outside come, when people just want to make a killing."

Zoning Board chairwoman Cheryl Milton said she could not speak at length about the project because she said there is still the possibility that an appeal could be taken to superior court. But she said a lawsuit to fight the project's approval by the zoning board could potentially cost at least $10,000.

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