by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
Amazingly, the media has paid attention to an item on the Consent Agenda for the monopartisan Buncombe County Commissioners. One got the sense even the commissioners paid the bimonthly printout no mind.
Up for consideration is a $2 million loan for Mountain Housing Opportunities to help build community, affordable housing, historic sense of place – you know – at Eagle Market Place. As usual, the taxpayer loan will be on much more favorable terms than those available from private enterprise lenders.
MHO, which actually has a lot of nice people working for it, has long had a reputation for receiving the lion’s share of the City of Asheville’s Housing Trust Fund. (Memory likely fails, but it seems the assertion was recently “refuted” with data that supported it.) MHO also has a long list of public and private partners. The organization collects funds to avail mortgages, rentals, and home repairs at below-market rates.
Eagle Market Place is the newest grand scheme for revitalizing The Block. The Block is touted as an historically significant goldmine of African-American heritage. Folks have been trying to redevelop it with government aid for a couple decades, now. According to the local daily:
There have been several failed efforts over the years to build a large development with housing on The Block. Some died because of disagreement in the neighborhood, others because of economic factors.
Memory and documentation indicate there was a lot more drama. If you want your head to spin, do check out a 2004 article from the Mountain Xpress, by Stuart Gaines, entitled, “Nightmare on Eagle Street,” for details of the allegations, lawsuits, and even the following:
Immediately after City Council voted down the EMSDC funding, an overjoyed [Eugene] Ellison called his friends to his Ritz Building to celebrate. As this reporter stood on the steps of City Hall interviewing the Rev. Charles Mosley of Nazareth First Baptist Church about his disappointment with the vote, Ellison came running past, leaped into the air and gave a victory shout. After apologizing to the flabbergasted Mosley, Ellison gave a second gleeful shout before running off into the night.