ASHEVILLE – Plans to open a new ABC store retail space just north of downtown are underway with the intent to renovate an existing ABC storage facility at the corner of Broadway and Cherry streets.
This new retail location would eventually replace its store at 179 S. Charlotte St. More than double in size, Asheville ABC operations manager Jason Thacker said the Cherry Street space will be a welcome change.
“We just outgrew that (Charlotte Street) space with how busy tourism is, and how well the mixed-beverage customers are doing,” Thacker said. Replacing one of Asheville ABC’s oldest stores, he said customers can anticipate a bigger and more modern space at the new location.
While the Charlotte Street location is owned by the city, the Asheville ABC Board already owns the .80 acre parcel where the two-story brick ABC building sits at 1 Cherry St. N.
Previously used to house Asheville ABC’s office and warehouse, Thacker said they moved locations to Old Brevard Road in July 2019. Much of the building has been vacant since.
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Though the Cherry Street location once also operated as a mixed-beverage outlet for bars and restaurants, it was shut down during COVID-19, and remained closed.
According to plans submitted to the city April 29, planned renovations include interior demolitions and renovations, the demolition of a previous addition for the construction of an ADA-compliant foyer and conversion of portions of the warehouse to retail space.
Plans note 16,232 square feet of renovations and a 376-square-foot addition.
Not only will the renovations mean a new stand-alone retail store, but a larger mixed-use beverage outlet that Thacker said will serve about 200 of their permittees, including restaurants and bars.
The project has been in the works for a year, he said, but COVID-related delays backed up its start date. Though he doesn’t know when the project will break ground, once it does, he anticipates renovations will take six to nine months.
The Charlotte Street location will not close until the Cherry Street retail space and mixed-beverage outlet are up-and-running, he said.
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There are nine ABC store retail locations in Asheville, and Thacker said he was happy to see a retail location coming to the Montford community, and still staying near the central business district, hopefully more convenient for mixed-beverage customers.
“It’s pretty crowded over there,” he said of the Charlotte Street store.
As tourism bounces back and restaurants and bars see more people clamoring to go out, alcohol sales are seeing an increase, according to Thacker.
In March, the Charlotte Street store saw $1.03 million in sales, a 32% increase over March 2021. With sales growing quickly, he said the current store may not be able to handle the volume.
As a level one project, after the applicant submits all required plans and documents, city staff will review the project for compliance with local, state and/or federal standards and approve, deny or request revisions.
Jennifer Blevins, an urban planner with the Development Services Department, said staff will review the plan in the next two weeks, and submit comments to the applicant by May 13.
Sarah Honosky is the city government reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. News Tips? Email [email protected] or message on Twitter at @slhonosky.