Dear Haywood Street Community and Beyond,
Since our last update, much has changed. Nearly all for the better. Last summer, following the City Council’s unanimous vote to endorse our proposal, Haywood Street Community Development closed on the West End Clingman Avenue properties and readied to break ground. Then global supply chains kinked, lending for multifamily projects retracted, construction bids inflated, and a $10 million vision for deeply affordable housing escalated to $12.5 million and rising.
With so many dramatic market swings, we literally went back to the drawing board. In the silence since our last communication, we’ve been hard at work on a redesign. Under contract on an adjacent upper lot, the development now spans three parcels. Instead of keeping the expensive concrete podium, we’ve switched to surface parking only. The top floor is gone, replaced by a far less imposing ¾ split architecture. From 46, our unit matrix is now at 41 apartments. With these amendments, we’ve reduced the vertical construction budget by over $1 million.
Despite these shifts, we remain certain about what won’t change. Instead of confronting the housing crisis with minimum standards- settling for discounted over dignified- HSCD is building dwellings with sunset balconies and granite countertops. Although many landlords refuse neighbors with vouchers, we’re prioritizing the demographic at 50% Area Median Income and below. And as gentrification in the City Centre accelerates, we believe Asheville’s contested identity hangs in the balance without more deeply affordable housing downtown.
With revised floor plans and elevation drawings, you can expect a surge of public activity- Technical Review Committee, neighborhood meeting, Planning and Zoning, and City Council- in the coming months. You can also expect, barring any more pandemic-related surprises, earth moving at 339, 343, and 357 West Haywood Street this winter.
For those experiencing housing insecurity, people asked to wait and wait even longer, your hardscrabble survival animates our persistent calling. Although we lament a year of unforeseen delays, Haywood Street’s commitment to build, not just bricks and mortar, but relationships that interrupt the isolation of poverty remains undeterred. To future residents, a distinguished space to detox from the stress, experience belonging, consider the possibility of tomorrow, make memories, and finally come home is coming.
Rev. Brian Combs, Founding Pastor