Affordable Housing: The Rest of the Larchmont Story


Back in 2010, there was Screenshot 2014-03-10 at 9.46.47 AM>quite a debate over adding a 60-unit apartment complex on an abandoned site off of Merrimon Avenue. The building, known as The Larchmont, had folks worried that crime would skyrocket, traffic would spike, and quality of life would be irreperably harmed. Fast forward four years, and Mark Barrett at the AC-T takes a look at what actually happened. It’s great to see old prejudices melting away and hear more and more support for Asheville’s working people.

When Mary Chakales’ mother passed away a few years ago, Chakales knew she needed to move to someplace less expensive than the North Asheville home she and her mother had shared.

She found it at The Larchmont, an apartment complex developed by nonprofit Mountain Housing Opportunities near North Asheville’s Grace post office and a couple blocks east of Merrimon Avenue.

“It’s just fallen into place beautifully for me. … I walk everywhere,” said Chakales, 62, who works as a cashier at a nearby grocery store. “Walking’s the best exercise in the world. It’s a nice neighborhood. You don’t have to worry about things happening.”


The complex was hotly debated when it came before City Council in March 2010. Advocates of affordable housing see infill sites like The Larchmont’s near jobs and public transportation as the ideal place to put such complexes in the city.

Encouraging or at least allowing increased housing density was one of the two top priorities the city’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee recommended last month to help improve Asheville’s supply of affordable housing.
Nearby resident Bill Van Cleve had asked council not to approve the complex, and said this month, “It would have been a little better had it been smaller.”

But he gave the complex good reviews overall. “In terms of noise and parking or anything like that, I think it has turned out better than expected. The architecture is pleasing. In that sense, it fits in,” he said.

People who backed the project in 2010 who were interviewed for this story had uniformly positive reactions.

Beth Maczka’s endorsement was more than verbal. She encouraged City Council to approve the complex in 2010 and has since moved into a home a block or so to the northeast of The Larchmont.

“I’m thrilled with it. I think the buildings are great,” she said. “I drive on Merrimon every day, and I haven’t noticed any difference in the traffic.”

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