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Asheville’s oldest public housing development is getting a fresh start thanks to support from Buncombe County and multiple other partners. Commissioners have pledged $4.2 million for the project which officially broke ground on Nov. 13, but construction has been underway for a few months. The ambitious effort will replace the demolished old, 96-unit Lee Walker Heights with 212 mixed-income units.
“It’s really great to finally see it come to fruition. I remember when they built the first one,” exclaims District 1 Commissioner Al Whitesides. “This is going to make a generational change for our community.”
Overall, the Lee Walker Heights redevelopment will cost about $39 million, a price tag shared by the County, City of Asheville, Mountain Housing Opportunities, Asheville Housing Authority, and others. It’s also taking advantage of federal tax credits, money from HUD, and funding from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency.
County Commission Chairman Brownie Newman is excited that everyone came to the table to get this off the ground. “Nobody could have done it on their own, and I’m glad the County is working with these great organizations,” he says. “It’s a great investment and a big project. It’s really a historic transformation of Asheville’s oldest public housing development.”
The new Lee Walker Heights is located at 319 Biltmore Ave., the site of the former Matthews Ford dealership property. Newman says the location is advantageous for those working, or seeking employment at Mission Health, which is our region’s largest employer. “It’s situated in the heart of downtown and the neighborhood will be connected to the rest of the city,” says Newman.
The Lee Walker Heights redevelopment is scheduled to be complete by 2021.