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City Council OKs $3.5 million makeover of Seventh Avenue

Commercial space in the 700 block of Maple Street bought and renovated by developer Lyle Chariff is home to Sippin’ on Seventh distillery, Tierney Floors and the Pasta Lady. Commercial space in the 700 block of Maple Street bought and renovated by developer Lyle Chariff is home to Sippin’ on Seventh distillery, Tierney Floors and the Pasta Lady.

A major streetscape upgrade in the resurgent Historic Seventh Avenue District will soon be in the works soon after years of delays.

Acknowledging that the project to boost the commercial area’s revitalization “has taken longer than anyone expected or wanted,” city staffers described the historic district’s growth and improvement and laid out the road ahead during a meeting of the Hendersonville City Council on Dec. 14. After its staff finalized the terms with a general contractor, the council on Friday authorized a $3,545,936 contract for the work.

The work will include demolition, steel railings, electrical work, paving, brick pavers, landscaping, water, sewer and stormwater improvements and new traffic signals. The council discarded only a couple of alternates — including bollards at Locust and North Grove Streets. The council kept retractable bollards at Seventh Avenue and Maple Street, making it easier to close the streets for the Saturday farmers market and other events.

Originally envisioned in the city’s downtown work plan in 2017, the streetscape project has been thwarted by numerous factors, not least of which was that no contractor responded when the city twice solicited bids for the job. Other factors were the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the “contractor-driven market,” supply chain delays, construction-cost inflation and plans for an NCDOT intersection improvement on Seventh Avenue at North Grove Street, City Engineer Brendan Shanahan told the council.

Revenue sources and grants for the work include a 2021 city water-sewer bond, the city’s water and sewer reserve fund, a stormwater grant, the Seventh Avenue special tax district, state Powell Bill funding for roadwork and the city’s general fund.

 

Private investment sparks revitalization

Public money and even more private investment have boosted Seventh Avenue revitalization since 2020:

A total of $173,000 has been spent on façade improvements.

Eleven new restaurants or shops have opened.

The district has attracted $1.5 million in private investment.

One investor by himself has accounted for quality renovations that have led to new businesses that are thriving.

Lyle Chariff, a developer from Miami and parttime resident of Laurel Park, has bought most of the 700 block of Maple Street plus three buildings in the 300 block of Seventh Avenue. The renovated spaces are now home to Claywood wine bar, Art on 7th, Sippin’ on Seventh distillery, Tierney Floors and the Pasta Lady.

“We buy buildings and we put money into them before we even have tenants because we think if we build it, they’ll come,” Chariff said in an interview last week. “Most people that are doing things — they buy it and they do nothing, and that doesn’t help anybody.”

Chariff may not be done investing in Hendersonville. He’s been contacted by local people offering to sell commercial property “because they respect and appreciate what we’re doing,” he said. “They’re really excited about seeing the change and they know that we’re respectable and responsible based on our renovation. And there’s people, believe it or not, that are considering selling to us for that sake and we’re talking to different property owners.”