This is cross-posted from Scrutiny Hooligans and will soon appear at my City Council campaign website, GordonforAsheville.com
[This is the first of several posts examining the proposed Downtown Master Plan (DTMP). You can see a brief overview of the plan here. Click here for the entire plan. Click here for the appendices. A public hearing on the DTMP will be held May 26th at the City Council meeting that night.]
In working towards a more affordable, more sustainable Asheville, it's vital we attend to the arts. Arts, culture and history give equally to all of us who live and work here. Every day we're informed, intrigued, or inspired by our artistic, cultural, and historical environment. Art and culture engender civic pride in all of us, and we can prioritize affordable living and working space so our artists can continue providing us with a beating heart. We can reaffirm our commitment to showcasing our history through preservation and cultural events. We can create an Artists' Resource Center to serve as a hub for business, art, and tourism.
Section One of the DTMP is focused on arts, culture, and history in downtown Asheville. Folks all have their favorite and least favorite things about going downtown. I love hearing music in the streets, seeing art wherever I look, running into friends, and the abounding culture of creativity. A combination of low property values a generation ago, relentless entrepreneurship, city planning, and a most excellent populace has created a downtown full of life, where it feels like anything could happen. It's impossible to quantify the creative energy of Asheville's downtown creative arts communities, but the DTMP throws out a few stats to provide context:
- Asheville is now recognized as the number-two arts destination among smaller United States cities (following Santa Fe, New Mexico).
- The arts and artists contribute sixy-five-million dollars annually to Western North Carolina‘s economy.
- WNC‘s artists comprise the largest percentage of self-employed workers in the state.
As unique as our arts community is Asheville's architectural and historical legacy. Section One of the DTMP addresses this facet. Here are a few DTMP bullets to give you an idea of how historical preservation has been valued and to what benefits:
- Since 1976, there have been 82 rehabilitation projects in Downtown Asheville‘s National Register Historic District (NRHD). All of these benefitted from a 20-percent federal rehabilitation tax credit (for income-producing structures). These projects represent over eighy-nine-million dollars in Downtown re-investment—beginning at a time when Downtown was neglected and deteriorating. In large measure, historic rehabilitation saved Downtown Asheville.
- Since 1998, project sponsors and owners have been able to double that tax credit (to 40-percent) by using North Carolina‘s matching tax credit for certified historic
- The dramatic impact of historic preservation is well demonstrated by Pack Place--a public/private partnership begun in mid-1980‘s and opened in 1992.
Follow me into ReadMoreLand for a look at how our arts and history can be strengthened, encouraged, and protected.