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THE TOP 10 (7, 6, 5): Grey Mill, quiet tax increase, downtown transformation

While downtown restrooms opened in 2019, this year will see the opening of the Grey Mill Apartments and streetscape work in the Historic Seventh Avenue District. A hotel and parking deck on Church Street are in the conceptual stage. While downtown restrooms opened in 2019, this year will see the opening of the Grey Mill Apartments and streetscape work in the Historic Seventh Avenue District. A hotel and parking deck on Church Street are in the conceptual stage.

The Top 10 news stories, part 2.

 

7. Concept to construction

The historic Grey Hosiery Mill, which has been a perennial on the Lightning’s Top 10 for years, transitioned in 2019 from concept to construction. Renovation of the 104-year-old sock factory is under way and 36 loft apartments should be available for rent this year. The mill’s revitalization comes to fruition as the city moves ahead with plans to encourage a connection of the “old” downtown on Seventh Avenue with the current commercial strip along Main Street. The work includes a walking corridor along Maple Street and, coming this year, a streetscape in the Historic Seventh Avenue District. The market is responding. Two new breweries have joined craft pioneer Southern Appalachian in the district, a dessert shop opened and White Duck Taco Shop is coming in early this year.

6. Stealth quiet tax increase

Taxes went up quietly in Henderson County and in every municipality and fire district on July 1 and there was a scarcely a squeak of protest. Although the countywide revaluation raised the overall taxable value by 15.8%, few elected officials felt the need to argue for a revenue neutral rate. “A lot of properties went up considerably on the valuation so what you have in a lot cases is higher valuation and a higher tax rate,” Nick Weedman, who became Flat Rock mayor in December, said back in June. “I think people are going to be shocked by the tax bills that come out in September.” If these taxpayers were shocked, they didn’t show up to publicly say so. Higher values ranged from plus 11.7% in Flat Rock to a 38.2% gain in downtown Hendersonville. Local governing boards last spring adopted 2020 tax rates above the revenue neutral mark by anywhere from 2 to 5 cents. No fire district adopted a revenue neutral tax rate and eight of 12 rural departments increased their tax rate even as their tax base rose. Blame new construction — a new police headquarters in Hendersonville, new schools and a four-year maintenance, repair and renovation program in Henderson County schools — public safety — SROs in 23 public schools and 12 new firefighters in Hendersonville —employee benefits and parks and recreation costs for the increase.

 

5. 'A new face on the city'

A corollary to the tax increase story is the investment the Hendersonville City Council committed to last year. Taxpayers will see evidence of major investments in the coming years downtown and beyond. Projects recently completed, under way or in the conceptual or design stage include the new public restrooms on Fifth Avenue West, new police station on Ashe Street in the Historic Seventh Avenue District, a hotel and parking deck on Church Street, a new Seventh Avenue streetscape and a Fire Station 3 on Old Spartanburg Highway at Shepherd Street. The big public-private partnerships are a hotel on the city-owned Dogwood parking lot site and the Grey Hosiery Mill. “It’s going to put a new face on the city,” said Steve Caraker, who served 12 years on the council. “All of the amenities coming out of the ground right now are going to change the way the city works.