Charlotte Street workers move to engage UNCA students

Roy Inkidar
Sports Writer
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Photographed by Roy Inkidar
Banners created by The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County enforcing the “Save Charlotte Street” movement.

Ever since the RCG Development Group and the Killian family submitted redevelopment plans to replace about a dozen historical homes with a large complex made of approximately 180 residential units, the controversy began, and the residents of Charlotte Street voiced their concerns. 
After working at Charlotte Street Computers for six years, Michael Woodward said he understands both sides of the complicated “Save Charlotte Street Movement” debate.
“I’ve got a conflicting opinion about it. On one hand, I really don’t believe we need a new swath of high rises, especially when only 18 of the 188 units are going to be deemed affordable. On the other hand, the buildings that are slated to be knocked down are in a state of disrepair and it would take a lot of time and effort to make them livable again. As far as I’m concerned, the owners of the property sold the property, so that’s it,” Woodward said.
According to Woodward, UNC Asheville students can contribute to the movement by sharing their opinions on what they believe is best for the future of Charlotte Street.
One of the ways that students can help is to sign a petition made by The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County. More than 2,700 people have signed the petition already.
“It depends upon whether or not students are going to make long-term plans at Asheville after their education at UNCA. If they are leaving after four years, then it’s really not their fight. If they are going to stick around, then I am more than willing to hear from them,” Woodward said.
A worker at Inara’s Alterations on Charlotte Street, Tatiana Edwards, said she sees the positive gain of traction the project could bring to local businesses, although her main worry is people’s safety.
“I’m torn. It creates a lot of traffic which is bad as there are a lot of cars that fly through and people can get killed. You can hear tires screeching. We’ve had quite a few car accidents here. Something needs to be done about this street itself. Making it wider or bigger could prevent anything from happening. It will bring more business, that is definitely a positive thing. However, safety is my big concern at the moment,” Edwards said.
Edwards said if students want to contribute to the ongoing dialogue surrounding Charlotte Street, they should start by voicing their opinions. 
“I think everybody can make a difference because if you believe strongly in something, you need to go forward and voice your opinion. We live in the United States of America, it is a country of freedom, and so we have the freedom of voicing our opinions,” Edwards said.
According to Edwards, property owners ultimately have the final decision. They decide whether or not they wish to sell, which allows the real estate firm to proceed with their redevelopment projects.
“I am pro-property rights as well, so people do have the power of decision making. The individual who owns this is a property owner and he should have the right to decide what to do with it. While it has the impact on Charlotte Street, ultimately it is his decision because it is all in the Constitution,” Edwards said.
Kayla Burns, a part-time worker at Taco Temple on Charlotte Street, said the cause supports the vibrant community of Asheville and Charlotte street.
“I am for this movement. What I have seen in the Asheville area, it is a very pro-small business town, and I think it is a great movement. There is a lot of community involvement in the restaurants on Charlotte Street,” she said.
The movement intends to stop the demolition of historical homes on Charlotte Street and keep the environment of Charlotte Street in its current state. 
Burns said students can aid the movement by supporting the Go Local program. The program itself intends to popularize over 560 local businesses in Asheville.
“There is a Go Local program and I believe many of the restaurants here are part of that. This city has a lot of great food and really nice folks running these restaurants. Try to go to these small businesses instead of getting fast food from big corporations,” she said.