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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

Asheville City Council approves $1.9 million tax grant for second microhousing development

The development is planned across two, seven-story buildings, with 159 of the 231 units facing Aston Street.
Renderings by Mcmillan Pazdan Smith
The development is planned across two, seven-story buildings, with 159 of the 231 units facing Aston Street.

A second microhousing development received a Land Use Incentive Grant (LUIG) from Asheville City Council this week, despite some uncertainties from city officials about how these smaller, dorm-sized units fit into Asheville’s affordable housing plan.

The Aston Flats project, which includes 231 efficiency units and 47 set aside for voucher holders, is slated to receive $1.9 million in property tax reimbursement. Council approved the funding on a 5-2 vote, with Councilwoman Antanette Mosley and Councilwoman Sheneika Smith voting against the measure.

The units are planned across two, seven-story buildings on a 0.64 acre parcel, with 72 units facing Sawyer Street and 159 units facing Aston Street.

The design is similar to the forthcoming development at 217 Hilliard Ave. – the first microhousing project to receive a LUIG – with small individual units that range from 200 to 350 square feet.

 Aston Flats microhousing renderings
Renderings by Mcmillan Pazdan Smith
The other section of the Aston Flats project includes 72 units on Sawyer Street.

Each unit includes a sink, private bathroom and kitchenette with a microwave and small refrigerator. On each floor, larger communal spaces fill in the gaps with a full kitchen, laundry room, and lounge spaces.

Before approving the grant for Aston Flats, council considered a motion to delay the LUIG application The motion came at the recommendation of the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee (AHAC).

In late June, Council voted unanimously to put the LUIG program on hold until a policy was developed to include specific standards for microhousing projects. The decision came at the recommendation of AHAC.

Aston Flats developer David Moritz spoke about moving the project forward despite the overall pause. He cited the project’s walkability, lower climate impact, and boon to affordable units as reasons to push the project forward.

“I’d like to proceed this to a vote, for or against, so we can move on and build this or not,” he told council.

The motion to delay failed on a 3-4 vote, with Mayor Esther Manheimer, Vice Mayor Sandra Kilgore, Councilwoman Sage Turner, and Councilwoman Maggie Ullman voting to move forward.

The resolution approving the LUIG for Aston Flats is slated to yield $93,007 per year over 21 years.

The LUIG program started in 2011 and provides incentives for developers to build and/or designate more affordable housing for individuals and families in Asheville.

According to the city, Aston Flats will be the last microhousing development that receives a LUIG until fiscal year 2024, when officials reconsider how taxpayer money should support these types of developments.

Laura Hackett joined Blue Ridge Public Radio in June 2023. Originally from Florida, she moved to Asheville more than six years ago and in that time has worked as a writer, journalist, and content creator for organizations like AVLtoday, Mountain Xpress, and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. She has a degree in creative writing from Florida Southern College, and in 2023, she completed the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY's Product Immersion for Small Newsrooms program. In her free time, she loves exploring the city by bike, testing out new restaurants, and hanging out with her dog Iroh at French Broad River Park.