Asheville, North Carolina was the winner of Buncombe County Tourism Authority grant funding, which was announced Oct. 26 at nearly $6.5 million for four projects.
These grants include $1.6 Million for the revitalization and renovation of Asheville Municipal Golf Course, designed by Donald Ross.
All allocations are made through the TDA’s Tourism Product Development Fund. The TDA board approved more than $9 million in new investments for 10 community projects. This is in addition to the $6.64 million that was approved by the board at its August meeting.
The total investment for the 2022 cycle is $15.68million, which is the highest in 20 years that the Tourism Product Development Fund has ever made.
The TDA is required by law to allocate two-thirds its revenues to marketing and advertising. These revenues are primarily from the local occupancy tax on hotels and vacation rentals. The TPDF receives the remaining third, which is used to fund projects that will benefit local communities and extend tourists’ stay.
The TDA and grant fund operate now under the two-thirds/one third model. However, funding for this year’s grant cycle was collected under legislation that required the TPDF to receive 25 percent of the occupancy taxes, while marketing and advertising received 75 percent.
Buncombe County’s budget line item lists the budget of the TDA at $46 million. The authority set a $40.8 million revenue objective for the current fiscal year in March. It will run through June 2023.
According to the release, almost $60 million has been allocated by the TDA to 46 community tourism projects since the TPDF fund was established.
TDA states that grant applicants must provide matching funds for project applications. This grant cycle included two phases: written applications, presentations and site visits.
Here is the complete list of projects that were funded during the 2022 cycle.
- Swannanoa River Greenway – $2.3M Project City of Asheville
- Coxe Avenue/Green Street project: $1.95M. Project City of Asheville
- Asheville Municipal Golf Course revitalization, phase I: $1.64M. Project City of Asheville
- WNC Nature Center Gateway to the Southern Appalachians Enhancement $567,000. Project City of Asheville
- UNC Asheville Karl Straus track, renovation and expansion: $1.5M UNC Asheville Foundation project.
- Karen Cragnolin Park, greenway phase: $360,790. RiverLink Inc.
- Glass Center in Black Mountain: 330,000 North Carolina Glass Center project.
- AVL Unpaved Phase 1: $188 355. Asheville on Bikes project.
- Project to beautify museums: $125,000 Asheville Museum of Science project.
- Phase II of the Wortham Center: $80,000 Wortham Center for Performing Arts.
- Woodfin Greenway & Blueway $5.89M. Buncombe County government/Woodfin Project.
- Enka Recreation Destination: $750,000 Buncombe County government project.
Vic Isley, president and CEO of Explore Asheville, and the BCTDA stated in a press release that “we are grateful for the thoughtful projects proposed by municipal and non-profit partners that reflect collective local values and goals.”
Asheville Municipal Golf Course desperately needs the money. The historic course has fallen into serious disrepair over the past few years. A lawsuit was filed by the city against former management company for $340,000 unpaid fees.
The lawsuit was filed in Buncombe County Superior Court on Oct. 4. This comes three months after Keith Pope, CEO at Pope Golf, was notified by the city attorney that it intended to file litigation regarding past due lease payments. Some of these have been accruing since 2016.
The “Muni”, or East Asheville, was established in 1927. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The longest-running African American tournament of golf in America is also held here.
Chris Corl, city director of Community and Regional Entertainment Facilities said that he had already received more than 20 texts and emails from happy players late on Oct. 26.
Corl stated via email that “We are really excited to receive the grant.” It’s the second major funding commitment, after the $1 million initial commitment by the city. We are currently finalizing the first stage budget plan with Commonwealth Golf Partners Asheville and hope to have that set within a month .
Swannanoa’s Greenway, which costs $2.3 million to construct, will be the first three-miles of the project. It also leverages the 2016 bond issue by the city to improve local parks and recreation. According to the press release, the WNC Nature Centre will renovate and expand its operations.
The $1.95 Million for Coxe Avenue Green Street is in line with the “South Slope Vision Plan,” which was developed by the community.
The press release stated that the streetscape transformation of Coxe Avenue included streetscape improvements that improve walkability, such as wider sidewalks or pedestrian scale lighting. In addition to placemaking interventions like gateway features and street furniture,
Esther Manheimer, Asheville Mayor, stated in the release that the funding supports facilities and experiences that residents value.
Manheimer stated in the release that partnerships and collaboration are key to future infrastructure and quality-of-life improvements. In this instance, the partnership was between the TDA and the county. I look forward to more partnerships like this in our community.
These details were provided by the TDA on other allocations.
UNC Asheville Foundation will rebuild a expanded Karl Straus Track, replace field equipment and improve field conditions.
RiverLink, Inc. will construct the greenway phase for the new Karen Cragnolin Park, connecting adjacent parks and serving as a link to the Wilma Dykeman Riverway.
North Carolina Glass Center will create a state-of the-art public glass studio in downtown Black Mountain.
Asheville On Bikes will receive its grant to fund the first phase, a 4.9-mile network multi-use trails through urban Asheville. This is known as AVL Unpaved.
The Asheville Museum of Science will begin a project to beautify its museum and expand its exhibition space.
The Wortham Center will increase its capacity to allow simultaneous use by touring and local production companies of all three venues.
Janet Cone is UNCA’s director for athletics. She said that the $1.5 million grant “helps us tremendously to modernize and improve the track not only for our student-athletes but also everyone in the greater Asheville/Buncombe County area.”