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Old January 30th, 2014, 07:18 AM   #1
hauntedheadnc
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Crux of the Biscuit: 2014 passes slowly in Asheville

Compared to the winters we had back-to-back a couple of years ago, this winter and the last one have been remarkably lame. Last year only featured one dusting of snow, but plenty of cold temperatures, while this year has featured lots of flurries, lots of cold air, and just two snows barely worthy of the name. While cities like Atlanta and Birmingham got the stuffing beaten out of them by this latest winter storm, we here in the mountains of Western North Carolina only got a paltry two to three inches. However, considering last year, I feared it was the only snow we were going to get, and thus ordered my boyfriend -- born and raised in the Connecticut suburbs of New York -- to drive me downtown so we could run around in the bitter cold and take these photos. God knows when it will ever snow again, so we had to do what we could when we could do it. And besides, it gave him a chance to drive in snow, and as he will tell you (endlessly, if you let him), Connecticutians (or whatever the hell those people are called) are genetic mutants who never get cold and are born being able to drive everything from forklifts to Mack trucks flawlessly in whiteout blizzard conditions. My boyfriend's brother, in fact, is infamous for going out in the snow in shorts, sandals, a t-shirt... and a full-length fur coat.

Anyway, all in all, we had a delightful time and to my endless amusement, boyfriend got very cold -- as in snot-cicle cold. Ha ha ha -- suck it, Connecticutians.









































That ghostly outline on the wall is all that remains of a church built in 1847. The city grew in around it, as did a building that engulfed in the 1920's. That building was eventually acquired by the church across the street, which tore the whole conglomeration down last year to make way for parking and -- so they say -- eventual construction of a classroom building.











When originally built in the 1920's, this apartment building was the most luxurious downtown address.













Once upon a time, this mansion -- called Ravenscroft -- sat in the middle of its very own estate just like so many others all over town. And like those others, it was eventually purchased and subdivided to make room for the unwashed masses. There are literally dozens of neighborhoods in Asheville with a grand house at their center that started off as estate parkland. The big house remains, and lots of little ones get built around it. The difference with Ravenscroft is that it was swallowed up by industrial and commercial development, with a bit of residential thrown in for good measure. Today the mansion itself houses a private girls' academy.







The Sawyer Motor Company building, which now houses chic industrial lofts of the sort typically inhabited by sitcom characters with no visible means of support.





Today's first glimpse of the beloved Big, Brown, and Tall Building.





This is a sad commentary on the state of this year's winter. Usually, Asheville is considerably snowier.





A handful of posh old houses remain on Biltmore Avenue, and all of them have been converted into businesses. This slightly more modest house stands behind one.















This exemplifies an area called the South Slope that lies in between the more familiar heart of downtown and the Medical District and its eleven blocks of hospitals, clinics, labs, and doctors' offices. After decades as a dreary, workaday part of town, the South Slope is primed as the next big thing in urban development. A chocolate factory and a couple of breweries have already moved in, with restaurants and retail to follow.







1920's-vintage apartment buildings on Biltmore Avenue.





Someone had purchased an iron. I've never heard of this brand. Have you? I wonder where they sell them.











The question mark really makes it -- as if there is some question to the matter of loving some sluts. And the exclamation marks seems to indicate shock or outrage. It's my favorite bit of graffiti downtown, I think.







Note the rock with the plaque to the right of the front door. According to the plaque, should you kiss the rock you will have the gift of "bunkum" bestowed upon you. Bunkum, a word meaning "bullshit," is taken from the name of Buncombe County, which once produced a legislator of such immense long-windedness that he was once asked why he made such long speeches about nothing. He replied that he was "talking for Buncombe."

In other words, kiss that rock and receive the ability to bullshit anyone, anytime, anywhere.



The craft beer scene in Asheville has grown explosively over the past few years. This, Wicked Weed Brewery, is one of the primary offenders.







The Aloft Hotel has big balls.



I have a happy memory, made here, of terrifying tourists during a zombie walk.







I have seen a photo of this theater from its days a XXX porn palace. The marquee was advertising Three on a Waterbed.











Behold the beloved BB&T Building. A developer will soon be turning this office building into an upscale hotel with a few floors of condos, as well as retail. A decrepit parking deck and a parking lot will also be redeveloped as part of the deal.

















This is The Block, once the commercial heart of Asheville's African-American community. When urban renewal obliterated the neighborhoods that housed its customer base, it dropped dead... until now. A multimillion-dollar project is, at long, long, long last, underway to rehabilitate the area. As you can see, the historic facades are being preserved even as a tower housing retail, residential, and office space rises from the ruins of this once-thriving district.



The YMI Cultural Center, thought to be the first African-American community center in the United States. It was built in the 1890's as a gift to the Black laborers who had worked to build Biltmore House.







Meanwhile, down in Triangle Park...





Most of the images in these murals were taken from historic photos of Asheville's Black communities. The father of a friend of mine is included in that group of men on the left.















"I will always love you," says the enigmatic graffiti.



"Rawr," says the ghostly window lion.



Did you notice that this building is pictured in one of the Triangle Park mural panels?











The city has set aside this city-owned parking lot as the site of a performing-arts center. The question now is whether or not the nonprofit tasked with building the damned thing can ever get its act together and actually do something other than pay its director a hefty salary. My money says no.



Our city hall, the Asheville City Building, is undergoing renovation at the moment.









The interior of this long-awaited addition to the Buncombe County Courthouse looks like something out of CSI. It's all mood-lighting and metal and glass.











Mystery burrs... I planted one once, but nothing came up.

























The Grove Park Inn surveys the scene. It's very good at surveying, but it's had a lot of practice... It's been perched up there on the mountainside since 1913.





The domes of the Basilica of St. Lawrence are framed by the Vanderbilt Apartments (formerly the Hotel George Vanderbilt) and the historic City Auditorium, which was eventually metastasized into what is now the U.S. Cellular Center.



The Flat Iron Building (spelled as two words) stands out.



Bigger, Browner, and Taller than ever! Although, "big, brown, and tall" describes a few of the men I've dated...







Well, it's been great fun, but I have to go now...

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Old January 30th, 2014, 06:01 PM   #2
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Cool pictures and commentary!
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Old January 30th, 2014, 06:58 PM   #3
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Cool pictures and commentary!
Very cool... Cold, even. Thanks for taking a look!
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Old January 30th, 2014, 07:43 PM   #4
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Amazing, very nice photos you got
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Old January 30th, 2014, 09:21 PM   #5
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Amazing, very nice photos you got
Thanks very much!
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Old January 31st, 2014, 06:45 AM   #6
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nice shots and I particularly like the first two shots for the 'light and shadow' effect.
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Old February 1st, 2014, 12:29 AM   #7
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nice shots and I particularly like the first two shots for the 'light and shadow' effect.
I enjoy playing with light and shadow, and also with juxtaposition. I love it when buildings' architectural styles clash with other, or when there's a gorgeous, fancy building with a big, ugly exhaust vent sticking out of it.
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Old February 26th, 2014, 06:25 AM   #8
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Frankly, I'm not terribly pleased with these pictures but considering what I had to work with, I think I did the best I could. You see, I only had an hour to run around a neighborhood called East West Asheville trying to get everything I could before we had to leave for the gym. I'm trying to get in one photo thread every month this year and February's almost up. To top it off, it was blindingly sunny today, which gives everything that extra-special sunblasted, washed-out look. Sigh...

I will say this though... Should there be any sort of uproar in support of doing so, I'd be happy to head back over there to do it all over again. Perhaps on an overcast day more suited to photo-taking, and definitely on a day when I have time to do this neighborhood justice.

So remember that: If you want more and better pictures, make a fuss. Fuss all you want, in fact. I rather enjoy that.

But what is this neighborhood, you ask? East West Asheville is the portion of West Asheville that is sandwiched between Interstate 240 and the French Broad River. Across I-240 is West Asheville proper, and across the river is the River Arts District. West Asheville in general, and East West Asheville (I love that name) in particular are about the only affordable neighborhoods left inside the city limits. The rest belongs to the rich. Will West Asheville fall to the gentrifiers? Perhaps, but at least East West Asheville has a large and crime-plagued housing project on its southern flank there to keep it from getting too high above its station in life. Its neighbors may not enjoy living next to a slum, but they have no choice. They can either live affordably next to the housing projects, or they can pay quadruple for the privilege of living in a bonafide nice neighborhood. Pick your poison.

That sounds nice. I think I'll use that as my my post title:

Pick your poison: Sprinting through East West Asheville





For years, this building was shrouded in a hideous sheet metal sheath, slapped on in an unfortunate era in American urban design in which it was thought the solution to dying urban neighborhoods was to make them as ugly as suburban neighborhoods. As you can see, the sheet metal is gone, and renovation is underway.



I have no idea what the hell this thing is, and have always wondered. All I can tell you is that it stands on the front lawn of the building that houses the city schools' prekindergarten program.













In Asheville, any business address with the number "420" in is very prestigious indeed, and will likely find its way into the business name.









We're doing our best to prepare for spring, which ought to arrive in earnest in another month or so. Two women were spreading mulch from the back of this truck in some planting beds along the edge of the street... And in Asheville, due to our topography, our street plan resembles nothing so much as a bucket of wriggling bait. The streets twist and loop every-which-way, which means that there are often little slivers of wasted space along the edges of streets or in front of buildings. Such slivers have been turned into urban gardens in this part of town.



This gas station makes an appearance in my novel. At the rate I'm writing, it will probably be closed by the time I'm done.



Of course it's not all commerce. Houses, naturally enough, line the knotted streets leading away from the main drag of Haywood Road.



A couple of weeks ago we had eight inches of snow on the ground. Before that, we had temperatures below zero. But, let us have three days when the temperatures flirt with 70F and all of a sudden things that have been desperate to bloom all winter just let loose. I just hope that these blossoms survive. Typically we have our last night of freezing temperatures sometime in April, although I have seen it snow in May.



The Scrap Metal Garden is an East West Asheville landmark.















Caged angels... More than a dozen of them. Tell me that's not an image someone wants to use in a poem.













You'll likely want to avoid kicking that. It's a decomissioned bomb.









Note the shark.





The nipple cannons are locked and ready to fire on any threat that may approach East West Asheville. I expect some developer's Mercedes to be blown to smithereens any day now.





On any weekend, or on any other occasion when you can expect people to get puking drunk, you'll see these taxis (and many others) roaming the city, ever vigilant and making their rounds.





From the Department of Interesting Things in the Backs of Pickup Trucks:



You can't really see it, but these two of the Biblical three kings are wearing red-striped tube socks. Sadly, this was the best view I could get of this mural.













































The neighborhood decided to do something pretty to this building while waiting for it to fall down.



This mural decorates the side of the Urban Orchard Cider Company. It depicts trees bursting through the pavement of downtown and taking the whole thing over. I think the artist has perhaps watched too much The Walking Dead.







Like certain breeds of dogs, if you must own vicious lawn decorations such as these flamingos, it's best to keep your yard fenced.









The artist responsible for this ball of metal has several works on display at the Asheville Art Museum. They look like waist-high balls of wadded paper, but are actually wadded washing machines. You can't look at them without wondering How?



Urban chickens are a common sight in Asheville -- there are backyard coops everywhere from the mansions of Grove Park and the Victorians of Montford to the bungalows of West (and East West) Asheville, and everywhere beyond and in between.



"I will find you," says the sinister graffiti.







That building in the background used to be a church. I once watched the Miss Gay Latina Asheville drag pageant there. Also, the building can be rented out for functions -- which leads to another story: I was once enjoying naughty naked funtimes in the basement with a perfectly nice Mexican gentleman who had a key to the building when a community function began overhead. We paused, waited to see if anyone was going to come downstairs and when it was clear they would not, we kept going. Not the most unusual place I've done the nasty, but it's up there.



There is a much grimmer story behind these flowers beside Haywood Road. Though we cannot hope -- with our population of only 85,000 -- to compete with American cities like New York or Washington DC in sheer numbers of crimes, we make up for it by having a per capita crime rate that is much higher. Also, we tend to make up for what we lack in quantity by putting our all into quality. This marker is a memorial to that phenomenon. A man thrown out of a bar down the street returned and stabbed two patrons to death, and was then chased down the street to this bus stop, where he was beset upon by a mob and himself stabbed and beaten to death as he was pounding on the doors of the bus and pleading to be let in. The passengers saw the whole thing. That same year, just to let you know how grim things get around here from time to time, a woman in East Asheville hacked her two daughters to death with a hatchet and then attempted to chop off her own head.



From the Department of Peculiar Things Left in the Grass:



Also from the DOPTLITG:















Lest you miss the focal point of this mural...







When the sun hits derelict fluorescent tubes, they glow like the ghost of all that light they shed on so many long nights...



















I have no idea what this is supposed to be, but it brings to mind a cocker spaniel as envisioned by Gustav Klimt.





Across that bridge lies West Asheville proper which, if the news is to be believed, is Asheville's next big boom neighborhood. That end of Haywood Road is igniting with new commercial development.



Turn left if you'd like to visit the slums.





Ishmael the gorilla is not especially pleased that you chose to look at these pictures.

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Old February 26th, 2014, 07:29 AM   #9
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Love it!

Quirky town! Quirky commentary!
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Old February 26th, 2014, 09:08 PM   #10
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Amazing, very nice updates
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Old February 27th, 2014, 02:52 AM   #11
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Nice pics of Asheville!
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Old March 13th, 2014, 01:19 AM   #12
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Enough with the harsh winter light already! If you want to know the truth, I honestly don't know if these photos are any good. On my laptop they look washed out until I push the screen back just a bit, at which point they look gorgeous. They look fine on the desktop computer also. So... if any of you who happen to pop in for a look would be so kind, please tell me how they look for you on your device.

So, it's March, that up-and-down month when it's cold one day, warm the next, and the hardy frontrunners of spring start to put in their appearances. Daffodils and crocuses are coming up, and there are other signs of life in the trees and in the occasional lily looking to get itself ready for the summer show. As I was walking around the Montford neighborhood just north of downtown taking these pictures, the temperature was steadily climbing from the 30's up into the mid-60's, and despite the shedding of layers I ended up all sweaty and nasty and gross.

Yes, I suffer for you, SSC, but a walk through Montford is worth it. Montford emerged in 1893, although there are a few houses on the paths that later became its streets that are much older, including a house on Elizabeth Street that dates from the 1840's. Also, even though Riverside Cemetery -- which flanks Montford on the west -- didn't officially get going until the latter half of the 1800's, there are graves that date from around 1820 in there. It seems as if the developers who built the neighborhood took what was already there and built around it, with the result being Asheville's first streetcar "suburb." Now it's a very desirable in-town neighborhood, but there were some rough patches in between. For example, Montford was one of the better addresses up until 1923, when Edith Vanderbilt carved a hunk off the side of Biltmore Estate and turned it into the mansion town of Biltmore Forest... at which point Montford dropped dead along with some of the other fancypants areas such as Victoria. Victoria was eventually large demolished, but Montford fared better... but only just. By the 1960's it was a red-light district of flophouses and whorehouses, and by the 1970's and 1980's, insurance fraud had become a profitable pastime for the neighborhood's landowners. Houses going up in flames for the insurance payout was a common and regular occurrence until by the 1990's, bohemians and other proto-hipsters moved in and cleaned up. And, as is typically the case, once those people had done the heavy lifting, the Thad and Bootsie country club crowd saw it, declared it good, moved in, and priced everyone else out. Modern Montford is a well-kept area of big old houses where the moneyed swells pass their days among a few scattered, tattered remnants of the way things used to be.

Also, tragically, Montford faces a new threat... The evil efficiency director of the factory where I used to work lives there, and quite frankly, he needs to be stuffed back up whatever demon's ******* shat him out so as to spare the rest of us the pain of his existence.

Shall we take a look?

Montford: Spring Attempts to... uh... Spring







Not everyone in Montford is rich and lives in a flashy, freshly-scrubbed old house. Just the vast majority.



A few commercial buildings stand in Montford, along Montford Avenue. As well they should, because Montford used to be its own incorporated municipality, and wouldn't such a place need its own wee little downtown? Today, there are a handful of stores and restaurants, some offices, and the headquarters of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, plus a branch of Lenoir-Rhyne University.







The temperature is supposed to drop to about 22 degrees tonight, and I hope that won't have a deleterious effect on what plant life has already managed to wake itself from the winter nap.





For a Victorian neighborhood, Montford is sadly lacking in Victorian gingerbread flash. There are a few ostentatious houses, but the majority are more staid Queen Anne-style homes, plus a lot of our signature Arts and Crafts bungalows and the like.





As is the case with this house, you'll still find a few Montford domiciles carved up into several small, oddly-arranged apartments. When their owners die, the modus operandi is to sell to a new owner who boots out the tenants, spends a fortune on renovation, and then spends about three or four weekends a year in what is, for them, a second or third home to which they retreat when the strain of making all that money in Atlanta, Charlotte, or Florida just becomes too much to bear.







You can hardly blame the joggers... They've been cooped up all winter.







This building used to be a Pentecostal church of the sort where only the holiest rolled. It is slated to become an Italian restaurant with an apartment above.



The flowers want out. The sun is out and you can finally feel it, dammit! The flowers want to be all up in that shit.













Would you believe this house is only a few years old?































As my partner and I walked along, we could smell the bewitching scent of dryer sheets coming from this house... My partner noted that the homeowners were doing laundry, and I disagreed, saying, "No, the servants are doing the laundry." This led to a short debate in which we concluded that my partner was right -- Montford is not really a neighborhood where you'd have servants, like, say, Grove Park or Biltmore Forest... But even if you're so gauche as do your own chores in Montford, you're probably using the most expensive cleaners and brand names on the grocery store shelf.







When you see steps in Montford leading from the sidewalk to a vacant lot, chances are good you're looking at a lot where a house was torched for the insurance money. In the background is Homewood Castle, one of three castles in Asheville, none of which are to be confused with the palace that is Biltmore House.



Homewood Castle was once part of Highland Hospital, one of several insane asylums that used to grace the city of Asheville, and whose claim to fame is that the poor, insane wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda, burned to death there along with two other patients in 1948. Naturally, in true Asheville fashion, the ghosts of those patients, Zelda among them, have been reported strolling down Zillicoa Street, shrouded in flames. Were you aware that Asheville is among the most haunted cities in America? No? Spend some time here and sooner or later something you can't explain will happen to you -- sometimes something quite dramatic. For instance, note that I said the ghosts have been "reported." To whom, you ask. The police, I answer. On more than one occasion someone in a panic has called 911 screaming about three burning women walking down the middle of the street near the castle.





Note that the little pointing finger stamped into the pavement is noting that the Z in Zillicoa is backward.



The College of Chinese Herbal Medicine is located in this house, and your guess is as good as mine as to why. The only explanation I can figure is the abundance of healing plants that grow in this area. In the early 1900's, selling various products derived from such plants was a booming business in Asheville.



Imagine dragons. Or just drive by and take a gander -- they're right by the street. You wouldn't even have to get out of your car.















Goddamn, but things are ready to get blooming around here already.









Note the street sign. Waneta Street is another haunted Montford locale, and became so when two nurses were bludgeoned to death at a nearby boarding house sometime around 1950. It's not their ghosts haunting the street, but that of their murderer, who can occasionally be seen walking jauntily down the sidewalk carrying a length of bloody, dripping pipe. Reportedly, he grins and vanishes.











I adore the little apartment buildings peppered throughout the neighborhood, and would cheerfully give a testicle for the chance to live in one. My partner vetoes the idea, however, citing an irrational hatred of steam heating. Apparently radiators clank or something. I wouldn't know. I grew up in a trailer and never a saw a live radiator in the wild until I got to tour the county jail with my Boy Scout troop when I was ten or so.











The Wright House is one of the few truly flashy Victorians in Montford.





















It is one thing to enjoy Velveeta, but quite another to devote your house to it.





It looks harmless enough in such bright sunlight, but the Frances Apartments look incredibly sinister on an overcast day. Damn that hatred of radiators... Damn it straight to hell.

















Take a penny, leave a penny -- take a novel, leave a novel. Unfortunately there wasn't anything especially interesting inside, nor in the other book boxes we saw while walking around.















Asheville's first Greek residents arrived from Karpenisi, Greece in the 1890's, and quickly established themselves and thrived. Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, and the attendant cultural center is a legacy of that early success. In addition, Karpenisi is one of Asheville's sister cities nowadays.



























On the porch roof? Either a turtle or a sheep. Call it whichever one makes you happier.





I'm an architecture geek. I admit it. I embrace it. As such, can you even imagine how happy I would be on that top floor, with those pillar capitals to greet me every time I stepped outside?

No, you can't. Don't even try.







Note the square dormer on the first floor. A fairly rare architectural quirk, as I understand it. The vast majority of the time, dormers are rounded or oval.















"Hello, I love you," says the peach-colored house.











By this point you may have noticed the preponderance of dogs. Asheville is a dog-loving city, bar none. Most every business downtown knows to provide water for any dogs who might be passing by, and nobody at any restaurant bats an eye at people eating in the outdoor dining areas with a dog or three tethered to the table.























One house has already declared its love for you. This one reminds you that you are someone. Don't you feel special now?



















Where are all the cats? Inside, apparently. They've abandoned the streets to the dogs.

















I certainly hope you've found this post, if not this thread, to be educational.





The view from inside the chamber of commerce. When Montford was originally developed, the developer clear-cut all the trees to the west so all the new homeowners could enjoy an unimpeded view of Mt. Pisgah -- try that today, and there would be calls for the developer's head on a pike. Ashevillians take their trees very seriously.



Thanks for looking! Remember, when I post photos, I'm basically just looking for attention... so be a dear and give me what I crave, would you? Thanks ever so much.
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Old March 13th, 2014, 12:06 PM   #13
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Great stuff!

I think the images look just fine. Personally I'm a big fan of full-on, vibrant colour - and most of my images reflect that - wherever possible; but the slightly faded ( to my eyes) colour of yours suits the documentary style perfectly....
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Old March 14th, 2014, 05:16 AM   #14
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Thanks, openlyjane. I always appreciate your comments -- and thanks for letting me know how things looked for you. This is the first time when I honestly could not tell whether the pictures were too washed out or not. I'm tempted to shun the sun and just take pictures on overcast days. They're much easier to judge.
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Old May 18th, 2014, 04:16 AM   #15
hauntedheadnc
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New Urbanism... It's the concept of building new neighborhoods in the patterns established by the old neighborhoods that human civilization enjoyed from the dawn of the town up until about 1950, when we in America decided we knew better and set out on a glorious half-century of unmitigated sprawl.

That sprawl is what gave rise to the part of town I live in, South Asheville. Due to its topography, Asheville is a cruciform city, squashed by mountains and the Biltmore Estate into the shape of a lopsided cross. Downtown is at the crux (snerk) of the cross, and the arms trail off to the compass points. The tail to the south is by far the longest, linking, from downtown, the neighborhoods of the South Slope, Medical District, Biltmore Village, Shiloh, Skyland, and Arden, all the way to the suburban town of Fletcher, beyond which you start getting into the northernmost reaches of the sprawl of Hendersonville -- the other, smaller half of the Asheville-Hendersonville metro area. Biltmore Village is the only one of these neighborhoods that could be considered urban at all, while the others, if they had any commercial heart to speak of, boasted only of a post office and perhaps a few churches and stores, plus the omnipresent boarding houses and hotels that blanketed this area in the 1800's.

No downtown. Nothing even worth pretending... until Biltmore Park came along.

Biltmore Park is one of the many, many, many real estate ventures of the Biltmore Farms development corporation. It sits beside I-26 at the Long Shoals Road exit, visible to the tens of thousands of motorists zipping past on any given day. It has shops and restaurants, apartments, condos, townhouses, a branch of the YMCA, a giant movie theater, the Asheville Hilton, branches of the fraudulent University of Phoenix as well as a legitimate local university, and a great deal of office space. It's also the location of Asheville's television station.

It's really about as nice a development as one could hope for. Definitely head and shoulders above the nearby sprawl. It's become South Asheville's downtown.

And yet, there's something missing. Biltmore Park has snagged some shops and offices from downtown Asheville, probably because of this missing thing -- and the fact that something really is missing became very apparent when some security guards pitched a fit while my partner and I were out taking pictures, and reported us to a nice lady in the Biltmore Farms corporate office, who promptly called me to have a chat about what we were doing and why.

Biltmore Park is private property, you see. Like an unusually complicated shopping mall. The people in the residential areas own their homes, but everyone else rents from Biltmore Farms -- all the shops and restaurants, every rental apartment and townhouse, even the heavy hitters like the movie theater and the Hilton Hotel. As nice as it is, it's a lot like Charlotte: freshly-scrubbed, shiny and new, and utterly devoid of a soul. It lacks the chaos of an organic urban area. It lacks the grime of character.

Would I trade it, though? Absolutely not. As I said, it's about as good a development as one could hope for. It's downtown South Asheville, where prosperous people come and go and spend their money. On maps, it looks disjointed but from the ground, you can tell that the developers did the best job they possibly could. The residential areas are separated from one another by creeks and ravines, but the whole thing, along with two large nearby apartment complexes, are linked by a greenway system, so that all can stroll to the commercial heart of the development. It's a model to follow, but I would personally encourage more diversity of height in the buildings, more architectural diversity, and I'd make it more public and less private. As it is, you get the feeling that you're only welcome here up to a point, whereas downtown you're welcome beyond all bounds of decency.

Perhaps, if you'd be so kind as to take a look, you'll understand what I mean.

Biltmore Park: Like Charlotte, without the tedious two-hour drive



Occasionally you'll find a rebel in Biltmore Park, breaking the rules and sticking it to The Man, such as this skateboarder in blatant violation of all the signs forbidding skateboarding.







Office space downtown is a mishmash of cobbled-together spaces that date from every era from the 1880's on up through the 1970's. Not conducive to the demands of the modern office. Biltmore Park to the rescue with bright and shiny Class-A office space, such as this enjoyed by ThermoFisher Scientific.





I had high hopes for the Asheville branch of Western Carolina University, but alas, they don't offer their social work program at this location.











The long boulevard that arcs through Biltmore Park is anchored at one end by the movie theater, and at the other by this large and quite posh YMCA. A couple of times a week, you can find me here trying desperately not to black both eyes with my flopping man-boobs as I attempt to lose the forty pounds I've gained since quitting my job to go back to school.









According to a newspaper article a couple of years ago about how Asheville bookstores are bucking the trend and are thriving in spite of the national decline of bookstores in general, that's one of the largest Barnes and Noble outlets in the chain and it's doing just fine.































Very Asheville, just like the kayaks we saw stowed on some of the apartment balconies.





The movie theater.





















I actually considered attending the University of Phoenix... until I discovered that the state of North Carolina gives next to no credence to one of their degrees. The state has a very strong bias toward brick-and-mortar institutions of higher learning. A degree from a place like this would be practically worthless.



I'd like to think that these Art Deco-ish details are a nod to the Art Deco jewel box that is downtown Asheville.





Fun fact: See the restaurant to the right? It's called 131 Main, despite the fact that Asheville itself does not have a Main Street. The only street by that name is a small residential street in the Oakley neighborhood, and dates from the era in which Oakley was a separate municipality.



This map of the commercial district of Biltmore Park reveals all the little planning quirks that went into it, such as the roundabout, the boulevard-esque planted median, and the fact that the main drag terminates at two distinct municipal entities designed to generate traffic and street life.



The bonanza of high quality office space has also snagged the Rural Broadband Association.



















Asheville has an almost pathological aversion to chain stores because we think that anything you can do we can do better (we can do anything better than you). Hence, rather than Apple Store, we have City Mac, with a location here and another downtown.



















I like the suggestion of Art Deco in this building's details.







These are the townhouses. There are currently some areas of the Biltmore Park set aside for the construction of more like them as the economy improves and the real estate market takes off again. Before we ended up where we currently live, my partner and I looked at one that was for rent. Very posh.























The exercise studio I prefer to use offers sweeping views of the residential neighborhoods climbing up the mountain behind the commercial district.



Another way in which Biltmore Park bucks the trend is that it dared to name some of its streets as actual streets rather than the expected Court, Drive, Place, Circle, Lane, Mews, etc. Actual Streets in suburbia? It's almost too scandalous.



The town square sprawls before the YMCA. Throughout the year, Biltmore Farms stages all sorts of events here and nearby, including a farmer's market, and a huge to-do at Christmas with trees and lights and the all the necessary accoutrements.





























I'm sure all the bronies will agree: P.F. Chang pony is best pony.



That's just a glimpse of the residential component... After giving the security guards conniptions, I was afraid to actually go up there and take pictures. And that's a shame, because the different residential neighborhoods offer a wide range of home styles and details, from narrow, shuttered and balconied Charleston-style townhouses to stucco mansions. I figured it best not to push my luck, though.



Booming Long Shoals Road, with one of a pair of urgent care medical centers, each erected by one of two competing hospitals, visible on the right.





The view to the west, across the French Broad River.







Bustling I-26 and the French Broad River.



Those houses sit atop the mountain where I live. I can walk to them, and the view along the way is magnificent. From the top of that mountain you can see the airport, Lake Julian and the power plant, downtown Asheville eight miles distant, and -- if you know where to look -- Biltmore House.





Goodbye from Biltmore Park.

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Old May 18th, 2014, 10:16 PM   #16
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Thanks for the tour.

I've shifted a few pounds recently - by cutting out wheat/bread-based stuff and alcohol.....
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Old May 23rd, 2014, 11:25 PM   #17
hauntedheadnc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by openlyJane View Post
Thanks for the tour.

I've shifted a few pounds recently - by cutting out wheat/bread-based stuff and alcohol.....
You're welcome. I always appreciate your comments.

My problem is that I quit a very physically-intensive industrial job for school, and it seems no amount of exercise can keep pace with the foods and the amount of them that I like to eat. I'm a gourmet and a gourmand: I love good food and lots of it, and when I worked at the factory I could eat whatever the hell I wanted without a care. That was the one and only benefit of assembling fiber-optic cable spools for twelve hours a day.

Thankfully, I don't drink alcohol so that's one less source of calories to worry about, and I'm trying to cut back on sweets. I almost never buy candy or the like for myself, and we've passed all the big candy holidays, with none approaching until Halloween. Hopefully I'll be able to drop a few pounds by October.
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