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“Uptown, Downtown, No Town” by David Mallett

David Mallett was a pioneer of the downtown Asheville revitalization, opening the Weinhaus at 86 Patton Avenue in 1977. It is Asheville’s oldest beer and wine store.

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In 1985, after 8 years of operating the Weinhaus, David Mallett spoke to the Pen & Plate Club of Asheville, of which he was a member, about the current state of downtown Asheville and its buildings. His talk was called Uptown, Downtown, No Town. “Those of us who have lived in Asheville for a long time have witnessed the slow demise of the central downtown area. What was once the central hub of commerce, business and retailing of all sorts has slowly become an inventory of old buildings without tenants, or buildings with first floor shops but with the upper stories vacant.”

 

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A vibrant street scene looking east along Patton Avenue from between Lexington and Church Streets towards Pack Square, circa 1960s. B146-5

 

Turning to the state of the city’s old buildings, Mallet said,”Lack of elevators, escalators, and multiple exits and parking have doomed most older downtown buildings to a status whereby low rent is the only drawing power for tenants. Also, to complicate the matter, the building codes, as time passes, become not only stricter but vastly more expensive so that it becomes more costly to rehabilitate an older building than to acquire land and build from scratch . . .Yet the majority of the older buildings are soundly built with many, if not hundreds, of years of useful life ahead given the necessary improvements required to make them attractive to tenants.”

Visionary that he was, speaking over 30 years ago, Mallet surmised that, “By far the greatest power the city has is its control over building and renovations of older buildings. And it is this area wherein lies the greatest hope for an active downtown. The real solution for downtown is to either “out mall” the malls or to get people living downtown. . . Many of the nay-sayers will say “who would live downtown?” This is what the city needs and the city has the power to help make it happen. An active, “alive” downtown–not only from 9 A.M to 5 P.M.–but from early in the morning to very late at night is what we are talking about. Not only Monday through Friday, but seven days a week. Can you picture what would begin happening?”

Yes Mr. Mallet, we can picture that! Asheville is grateful to all of the pioneer entrepreneurs who invested their time, money and vision for helping our city to become a beautiful place to live.

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“Glowing Hula Hoop” at Pritchard Park by Felicity Green, “Day in the Life of Asheville,” with the Weinhaus in view, 2008.

David Mallett died November, 2015. The Weinhaus is now a third generation business, operated by David’s son Hunt Mallet and his son John Mallet.

The Pen & Plate Club began in Asheville in 1904. A description of the club as given by Dr. Charles L. Minor is: “The club is just what its title implies–a social body with gastronomic tastes, tinctured with literary aspirations; a monthly gathering of congenial and friendly spirits to discuss a good dinner and listen to the reading of a paper equally good.” The North Carolina Room, Pack Memorial Library maintains the Pen and Plate Club Collection of papers.

Do you want to know more about how the city met this challenge?

Please join us for our fifth program in our series.

 

“Asheville in the 1980s:

A  Formative Decade Told by Those Who Shaped It”

Fifth Program in the Series

New Housing and Old Buildings 

Moderators: Kevan Frazier and Erin Derham

Panelists & Guests include: Becky Anderson, Peter Austin, Barbara Field, Larry Holt, Chris McGrayne, Karen Ramshaw and John Rogers

Wednesday August 31, 2016 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Pack Memorial Library, Lord Auditorium

All events are free and open to the public.

The expansion of housing in the Central Business District would come to be one of the key elements of Asheville’s Renaissance. The tax credits these pioneers utilized saved many of downtown Asheville’s architectural gems. Meanwhile, other older housing stock was being taken down displacing many long-time residents. Learn about this important physical and cultural transformation of downtown Asheville in the 1980s.   This history is especially poignant as Asheville works to address its current housing crisis and as a significant number of apartments are being built in the CBD.

Final program in the series:

Wednesday September 28, 2016: Politics and Civic Engagement.

Moderators: Leslie Anderson and Becky Anderson

Post by Zoe Rhine Librarian North Carolina Room

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This entry was posted on August 19, 2016 by in Events, Local History and tagged,, , .

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Our program was created to show how the emergence of housing in the Central Business District (in much of what had been warehouse and office space) in the 1980s was one of the cornerstones of the Asheville Renaissance.  Once downtown shifted from being a destination that folks either either went to or avoided and it became their “front yard and back yard,” so to speak, the politics and interest in downtown changed.  This history is especially poignant as Asheville works to address its current housing crisis and as a significant number of apartments are being built in the CBD.

One comment on ““Uptown, Downtown, No Town” by David Mallett

  1. Leslie Anderson
    August 26, 2016

    Good job on this, Zoe.  Really enjoyed reading it and the pics.  Generally, I enjoyed working with Dave.  Had not known about this paper, I don’t think.  I like what he said.   A caution, however.  Surprised????  He implies that residential is the big fix as I remember from reading it today.   I believe the urban revitalization market works differently than that.  Although I do agree that residential is extremely important and essential.  We can discuss if you wish.  Will be interesting if the panel Wed. brings this up.  Thanks so much for all you are doing. ——————————————- Leslie Anderson, President Leslie Anderson Consulting, Inc. 10 Blackwood Road Asheville, NC  28804 828.252.4913 866-337-2090 Toll-Free Fax

    From: HeardTell: Pack Memorial Librarys North Carolina Room To: leslieanderson@bellsouth.net Sent: Friday, August 26, 2016 2:24 PM Subject: [New post] “Uptown, Downtown, No Town” by David Mallett #yiv2986450343 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv2986450343 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv2986450343 a.yiv2986450343primaryactionlink:link, #yiv2986450343 a.yiv2986450343primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv2986450343 a.yiv2986450343primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv2986450343 a.yiv2986450343primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv2986450343 WordPress.com | packnc posted: “David Mallett was a pioneer of the downtown Asheville revitalization, opening the Weinhaus at 86 Patton Avenue in 1977. It is Asheville’s oldest beer and wine store.In 1985, after 8 years of operating the Weinhaus, David Mallett spoke to the Pen &” | |

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This entry was posted on August 26, 2016 by in Buildings, Events, Local History and tagged , , , , .

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