Hot Sheet: Asheville real estate market continues climb; Vanderbilt Shirt Company complex demolished; Marquee marketplace installs grand sign; new home for Chief Pontiac
Also, West Asheville Exxon station sold, marking end of full service at the pump
This story sponsored by Citizens Fuel Co., a family-owned Asheville company.
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Ok, enough of that. Now for more of what’s going on around Asheville:
The old Vanderbilt Shirt Company complex on Bingham Road has been reduced to a pile of rubble, and clean-up is just about complete. I don’t know yet what’s planned for the location, with is adjacent to Woodridge Apartments and a mobile home park in the Emma community. The Vanderbilt Shirt Company had a storied history: it was started in 1946 by Milton Lurey, Herb Wadopian, and Herman Silver on Broadway Street in downtown Asheville and grew quickly over the next decade, making men’s sportswear under the Levi Straus label, then ladies blouses and sportswear under its own label, Langtry. By 1955, the business had moved to the corner of Walnut Street and Lexington Avenue and employed 350 people working on three floors. A fire forced the business to move to 59 Bingham Road in 1968.
Asheville's real estate market continues its high-flying trajectory, judging by Third Quarter 2021 stats out now, with the average sold price of a home inside city limits, $538,900, shooting up 13.2 percent over the same period in 2020, which was a red hot year that saw prices soar. The median sold price for a house in the city of Asheville for Q3 ‘21 was $438,350, up 15.8 percent from the same period last year. Over the 90 days of Q3, properties were spending fewer than 30 days on the market, Beverly-Hanks reports in its quarterly update, a remarkable number considering this metric includes the time it takes to contract, obtain financing and transfer ownership.
Other notable Western North Carolina real estate stats: some of the highest home-buying demand can be found in Transylvania County, where the median sales price ($403,000) now exceeds that of Buncombe County ($400,000), which has long been atop the region, Beverly-Hanks reports. And of all WNC counties, Polk County has seen the most significant increase in its median sales price number, which has increased a whopping 33 percent, according to Beverly-Hanks. The median sales price of a home in Polk County for Q3 2021 was $393,500.
Marquee Asheville, the new marketplace billed as “a curated warehouse of antiques, vintage decor, art, jewelry and craft at The Foundation, has installed an amazing new sign as part of its preparations to open. (The sign is backlight with changing colored luminescence.) The bazar is the work of Robert and Rebecca Nicholas, who own Splurge Design, a custom lighting and antique shop at Wedge Studios, and who have been curating the Uncommon Market events at The Foundation. (Reminder: The next Uncommon Market is Sunday, Oct. 24.) Follow @marqueeasheville on insta for updates.
There’s a new home for the giant fiberglass sculpture that was removed from the Harry’s on the Hill car dealership off Patton Avenue a few years ago, reports Joel Baker of the fantastic @americangiants Instagram account. The structure was known as Chief Pontiac, and was installed in the 1960s as an advertising promotion. (The towering figures, known generically as “Muffler men,” were popular advertising icons and/or roadside attractions back then.) The structure was donated to the Pontiac Transportation Museum and its sister museum and, following a complete restoration, it has been stood up in museum’s sister institution, the Pontiac-Oakland Museum in Pontiac, Illinois. The museum is scheduled to open next year.
The former Greyhound bus station on Tunnel Road could become a new bar, according to a city permit application asking for early assistance with the location.
Barber & Beer is coming to 244 Governors View Road off Tunnel Road in east Asheville, according to city construction permits.
Bhramari Brewing on South Lexington Avenue in downtown is looking into making its temporary outdoor drinking/dining expansion permanent, according to city permits. The change may necessitate a drive access change from Hilliard Avenue to Church Street.
Papa’s Express, a Mexican food restaurant, is coming to the Asheville Mall food court, city permits show.
Earth River Records, a new vinyl record shop, has opened at 235 Weaverville Road in Woodfin.
La Rumba Restaurant Latino has opened in the old Bonefish Grill restaurant location on River Hills Road in East Asheville.
Scotty Rice has been a fixture in West Asheville for the past 19 years at his Exxon service station located at the corner of Patton Avenue and Haywood Road. He’s known and loved for his kindness and reliability as the go-to guy for trustworthy car maintenance. But the business’s days are numbered. Rice has announced he’s retiring, and says he’s sold the business to a convenience store operator. His last day is Nov. 1.
“It was just time for me to part ways with it,” Rice told me on a sparkling October morning recently. “I love my customers and I’m going to miss them.”
The feeling is mutual, according to Burnie Duncan, who was having some work done on his car. “Scotty’s been a wonderful mainstay. I just love being able to trust someone to work on my car and trust that it’s done right,” Duncan said. “We’re gonna miss him, plain and simple.”
Barbara Metcalf, who arrived to ask Rice to inflate a flat hand truck tire, also delivered a fruit basket and card. The two hugged and teared up. “I don’t want him to leave,” she said.
Rice told me that he grew up in the service station business, with his father, Jack Rice, and his father’s brothers operating service stations around Asheville. At Scotty’s Exxon, he or his wife Patty will meet you as you drive in. They will pump your gas, check the air in your tires, inspect your engine oil levels and clean your windshield. It’s a level of service that harkens back to the heyday of service stations, a level of service that’s all but extinct now, Scotty tells me. (One more note: Though I didn’t know him at the time, Scotty was two years behind me at North Buncombe High School. Go Blackhawks!)
Good luck, Scotty!
The Covid-19 pandemic can do weird things to people. So can dying and coming back to life.
Rob reached out to ask Julie to collaborate after seeing her work around town. What would happen if the two combined their weird worlds, Rob wondered. Armbruster’s universe of odd and quirky characters can be found around town populating her paintings and murals. Czar’s dark world is full of twisted buildings, graveyards and ghosts. The result is a two-sided work featuring each artist’s characters, scenery and vivid imagination.
The duo spent eight months on the project, with the folks from local independent art shop Horse + Hero acting as couriers to transport the painting between the artists’ two homes until it was rendered complete. Over the summer, the two finally met and sat down to sign the 250 limited prints together.
The prints are on sale now at Horse + Hero, with just more than 200 sold. Proceeds are benefiting local artists and the Asheville Cat Weirdos organization.
Now back to that part about dying and coming back to life. Czar, a social media star with a massive YouTube following, suffered a massive heart attack in 2019 at the age of 38. Caused by a then undiagnosed autoimmune disorder, Czar says in an email that he was medically considered dead for nearly half an hour, was resuscitated and spent more than a month in a coma.
Since his recovery, and the pandemic that followed, Czar has been holed up in his basement painting. He’s created hundreds of paintings, but only ever released one other piece. His canvases tell stories of PTSD, love, death, self isolation, addiction, and the greater quest for the meanings of life and life after death, he writes.
Wow. What an amazing story. Congratulations to Julie and Rob on their work, and here’s hoping there’s much more from both to follow.
Thanks for reading.