I am on the verge of becoming one of those cranky old people who grumble about anything new. Okay, not exactly. As a Pisces, I actually get a thrill out of change. Friends of long-standing will tell you that I reinvent myself every ten years or so, shapeshifting as a rite of passage.
But I find that I am crabby about changes in the Village. Most of them, at any rate. I don’t like the New Belgium space-suck. I don’t like it when perfectly serviceable buildings that are kind of funky and dated get torn down to make way for some vanilla cookie-cutter space. I don’t like “trendy”. I don’t like plastic.
I don’t like Village history being left to the devices of people who don’t care about the Village or only care enough about it to want to profit from its new-found cache.
Take Trader Joe’s as a case in point. Many of my foodie friends have been excited by the rumor of TJ’s coming to Asheville. The wine! The nosh!
Like there isn’t wine and nosh enough already for the over-fed and over-privileged that make up the chattering classes here.
At last, it is coming. Trader Joe’s has plans to demolish half a block of Merrimon Avenue to sandwich its new store between Whole Foods and the new Harris Teeter.
What disturbs me is the loss of the businesses and buildings that will fall to the Coming of the Hipster Walmart. There’s a sweet Mexican restaurant there that has been a meeting place and a refuge. Not great architecture, to be sure–it used to be a Hardee’s, I think. And the cool clothing shop on the corner–will it find new digs in the Village–where rental costs keep pace with much larger cities? It’s ain a funky two-story building that has housed many a small business.
The paint store in the middle will also be demolished. It used to hold a wonderful photography shop–one of the last places in town where one could get a contact sheet from a roll of B&W film.
And we will clap our hands gleefully, relishing the idea that Asheville is getting the cool stuff they have in Portland and all those other places where cool stuff erupts and then flings itself all over the local landscape.
Let’s work hard to make this backwater Village into something presentable, something not like here. All so we can have a $3 bottle of wine.