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Seventh Avenue could see apartments

The Historic Seventh Avenue District could see buildings converted to residential use if a developer follows through on a vision he presented to the Hendersonville Planning Board Monday.

The advisory board voted 5-1 to recommend that the city council amend text in the zoning ordinance to allow for multi-family apartments in a larger portion of the Seventh Avenue area.

Dan Mock, who listed a Hendersonville address on his application to change the ordinance and is shown as a principal in the southern California real estate development company Rockwood Development, requested a zoning text change to allow for apartments in an area along Seventh Avenue that does not currently allow for multi-family residences. He also requested the city allow for residential uses on the ground floor of buildings in the area.
Mock said in a telephone interview that he requested the text change because he wanted the option to have apartments on the ground floor of buildings he is in the process of buying in the community.
He currently owns a building at 824 Locust St. that is not affected by the proposed zoning text change.
Speaking to the planning board remotely via Zoom on Monday, Mock said he developed walkable communities in Los Angeles and wanted to do the same in Hendersonville. He also said he thought the area should have more nightlife and that he wanted to market the community to active young people.
“I think Seventh Avenue is a prime spot for the hipsters,” he said.
The only part of the Seventh Avenue community that current allows multi-family residential uses is in the Seventh Avenue Depot National Register Historic District.
The requested change would allow for multi-family residential uses in the wider Seventh Avenue Municipal Service District.
City staff recommended allowing multi-family residential uses be extended to the MSD. It also proposed that the requirement of limiting residential spaces to second floors be changed to say upper floors and that the provision remain in place for the NRHD. The provision limiting residential uses to upper floors would be partially in place in the remainder of the MSD.
The staff recommendation the board approved would allow for residential uses on the ground floor only in special circumstances that address access for non-residential uses and street frontage.
In drafting the recommendation, city staff and members of a committee looking at the request were concerned about the impact of ground-level, residential uses, according to staff members.
“Maintaining ground-floor storefronts and a continuous street wall are strategies with the Downtown Core designation of the Future Land Use Map in the City’s Comprehensive Plan. Best Planning Practices would also encourage commercial mixed-use districts to maintain non-residential uses on primary corridors,” a staff report said.
Buildings in the MSD that front Seventh Avenue would be required to primarily reserve ground floor space for non-residential use in the recommendation the planning board approved Monday.
Residential space on ground floors would be allowed in special circumstances that allow for 50 percent of the ground floor be used for residential space and the residential spaces front to an alley or a non-street area.
During the board’s discussion of the zoning text change, Frederick Nace said he had never heard of hipsters being mentioned in any of the city’s meetings about the future of the Seventh Avenue area. Other board members said they thought hipsters was a poor choice of words.
Peter Hanley said he expected that Mock’s plans for the buildings he wants to buy on Seventh Avenue do not include cheap housing.
“I agree and I think that’s a problem,” Nace said. “He intends to change the character of this district, and I don’t support that.”
Board member Tamara Peacock, who had recused herself from two other issues before the board on Monday, did not return to discuss or vote on the zoning change for Seventh Avenue.