Asheville has been making top 10 lists for years, driving tourists to our fair city in droves. As much as the locals complain about tourist season, people understand that tourism dollars are a crucial part of Asheville’s annual budget. It always makes us feel warm fuzzes inside seeing the city we love top another list. When the reasons for being added to the list are grossly misleading, however, it can make those warm fuzzies turn into seeds of rage.
Last week on a New Year’s Day appearance on Good Morning America, the owner of national travel guide Pauline Frommer got it all wrong when addressing the audience of Good Morning America during her segment. Frommer informed viewers that one of her organization selected Asheville to appear on the 2015 top destinations to travel list, was “because the sketchy riverside area has been totally redone thanks to the New Belgium Brewery, which has poured millions of dollars into this area, making new parks, artists collectives, farmers markets, bike paths. It’s just a great place to go. It has the most breweries per capita, so always a party.”
New Belgium only has recently started construction on their grounds, and has been met with skepticism from some area residents, alongside of the enthusiastic warm welcome that Asheville naturally offers. For a new entity that won’t be opening doors until 2016 to be unfairly credited with the revitalization of the River Arts District (RAD), is enough to turn residents sour. Our River Arts District has a rich history, and has been undergoing positive changes and revitalization for a number of years, turning it into an artist oasis.
The Western North Carolina Farmers Market was first opened in 1977, long before Asheville had ever dreamed that a brewery like New Belgium would be coming to town. A few locals we talked to about the ‘sketchiness’ of the River Arts District expressed dismay at the thought, noting that the area has been undergoing positive changes for well over 10 years, and that locals have not, in recent memory, associated the word ‘sketchy’ with our beloved RAD. So, one naturally wonders: where does the information like this come from? We approached our contact at New Belgium Brewery to get their thoughts about the Frommer segment.
We spoke with Susanne Hackett, New Belgium Community and Media Relations Specialist and a proud nine year resident of West Asheville to find out more. Susanne assured us that New Belgium did not source this story, nor were they even aware of their involvement in this story.
“It’s absolutely inaccurate for Frommer’s to credit New Belgium for the awesomeness of the River Arts District. We did not source this story and were not contacted by anyone regarding our inclusion in it or to fact check.”
“Our brewery is being built in West Asheville, across the river from the RAD. We do support strong bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and have given a section of our property to the City to develop a public greenway, as well as gave an easement onto our property to improve Craven Street into a complete street. It takes and has taken a village. We are a new member of the village and are working to do our part, just a part.”
The disparity between reported facts and the true story is what makes us here at AshevilleBlog sometimes hold our heads in agony. It is one reason why our staff takes the time to approach all parties involved, and get as much of the full story as possible. We recognize that while some people are hesitant to hop on the New Belgium bandwagon, we ask that our readers don’t use Pauline Frommer’s ill spoken words to judge the RAD, or New Belgium.
If you are looking for ways to support RAD, or stay on top of the latest happenings, check out the River Arts District website: www.RiverArtsDistrict.com. If you are interested in donating time or money to a River Arts related cause, RiverLink is a nonprofit that works on revitalizing the French Broad River. Riverlink has poured years of work into the RAD, and continually supports the artists and businesses that reside in that area. Find out more about Riverlink here: http://riverlink.org
Asheville readily embraced the ‘cesspool of sin’ slogan. Perhaps we can vow to ‘keep Asheville sketchy’, as well.
Watch the video of the Frommer segment below: