Parkside Condominiums


Covering Asheville's most contentious real estate controversy

Asheville's Epic Struggle Continues its in-depth news coverage of Asheville's most contentious real estate development, an epic struggle between middle class citizens and the powerful, well-heeled elite.

*JUDGE HYATT RULES IN FAVOR OF PACK HEIRS, But Future Uncertain | Many questions remain, such as: Will Parkside developer Stewart Coleman appeal once the final judgment is filed? | *For coverage, Click Here> | *For MountainXpress update about Judge Hyatt's ruling, Click Here>

*PARKSIDE'S ATTORNEY SAID COLEMAN WILL APPEAL Judge Hyatt's Ruling | To read the lastest report about what the attorney representing Parkside developer Stewart Coleman said will happen next, visit or Click Here>

*Asheville On The Ground blog: Click Here>
* archives: Click Here>
* reports: Click Here>
* Click Here>


Photo: Belzak/Mediabear
'The People
Have Spoken'

after Judge Hyatt rules in favor of Pack heirs to save the magnolia and preserve the people's parkland in front of Asheville city hall.

Click Here>


Judge Hyatt to Rule This Week

Approximately 70 people opposed to the Parkside condo project packed the 7th floor courtroom of Judge Marlene Hyatt's hearing of the lawsuit brought against Buncombe County and Parkside developer Stewart Coleman by the descendants of George W. Pack on Aug. 25, 2008. The judge said that she would rule this week.

FOR A BEVY OF COMMENTS about the proceeding from Scrutiny Hooligans, Click Here>
FOR BACKGROUND INFORMATION about the Stop Parkside grassroots campaign, as well as the 24/7 vigil to Save the Magnolia, visit the following links:
* Click Here>
*Asheville On The Ground blog: Click Here>
* archives: Click Here>

STEVE RASMUSSEN AND DIXIE DEERMAN (A.K.A. LADY PASSION): Waiting for Judge Hyatt's decision after the August 25, 2008, hearing and getting ready to batten down for the predicted heavy rains during their ongoing 24/7 encampment under the magnolia tree, located directly in front of Asheville city hall. Rasmussen and Deerman have been religiously conducting their vigil of protest and protection to save the magnolia since July 7, 2008, when the Asheville Technical Review Committee ruled in favor of allowing the Parkside high-rise condominium project to proceed. * Belzak/Mediabear

"We Are On Tenterhooks"
After the hearing on Aug. 25 at 5:30 p.m., Steve Rasmussen reports:

  "Judge Hyatt said she would rule this week. She did not indicate one way or the other how she felt through the whole proceedings. She was very matter of fact, and gave no indiction on how she would rule. We are on tenterhooks about the outcome.

"I think Joe Farikes, the attorney for the Pack family, did a wonderful job. He is doing it completely pro bono. There is not a dime in it for him. In fact, he is having to pay his staff for this work. He put his heart and soul into this. He spoke with passion and conviction and real deep research into this case.

"And he approached it from an angle that seemed to catch Coleman's and the county's attorneys flat-footed. He came at it from the angle that this parkland was dedicated to public use. It was clear not only from the deeds, but he emphasized the board of commissioners' minutes when they accepted George Pack's offer a few months before the 1901 deed. That is crucial because they referenced those minutes in the deed. The commissioners [in 1901] said that they are accepting this public land for public use forever."

Rasmussen said that on Aug. 25, 2008, approximately 70 people who opposed Buncombe County commissioners' sale of public parkland to Stewart Coleman, developer of the Parkside condominium project, provided a highly visible presence in the courtroom of the 7th floor of the county courthouse during Judge Marlene Hyatt's hearing of the lawsuit brought against the county and Coleman by the descendants of George W. Pack.

ASHEVILLE PARC FLYER USED FOR COURTROOM FANS: "'We screwed up,' said Buncombe County Commissioner David Gantt * Belzak/Mediabear

Rasmussen told "When [Judge Hyatt] came out of her chambers at 10 a.m., she did a double take of all the people who were wearing 'Save the Magnolia' tee-shirts and 'Stop Parkside' stickers. One guy even had a sticker plastered on his forehead. And then there were the fans made from the 'We Screwed Up' flyers."


PARC Reminds Citizens to Watch Parkside Panelists on URTV Tonight 
*ASHEVILLE PARC (People Advocating Real Conservancy) Reminds Involved Citizens to View Parkside Panelists on Public Access URTV | Writes PARC: "Be sure to watch PARKSIDE CONVERSATION this Sunday, August 24, on URTV Channel 20, at 9:30 p.m. | For details, Click Here>

Lawsuit Debate Tomorrow
*MON., AUG. 25 DEBATE BY ATTORNEYS on Heirs Parkland Lawsuit |
Scrutiny Hooligans' Gordon Smith points out a most recent article by the Asheville Citizen-Times concerning the possible return of City-County Plaza parkland to the heirs of George Pack, which could make the Parkside controversy a mote point.
Click Here>

Parkside Alert by Asheville PARC
*GRASSROOTS' ORGANIZATION Keeps Community Informed | Asheville PARC (People Advocating Real Conservancy) filed an important update on Fri., Aug. 22, 2008, for all who have been following the Parkside controversy. PARC is the organization that has organized the petition, "Stop Parkside with Eminent Domain." Click Here>

SOUTHERN MAGNOLIA by Catesby in 1730
*REMEMBRANCE of Things Past | Commentary by Peter Loewer, The Wild Gardener. Click Here>


 to Announce That He Will Cut Down Magnolia Within 35 Days, Tells Protesters He Will Demolish Hayes & Hobson Building, Too | Maybe it really is good-bye to the City-County Plaza magnolia and the Hayes and Hobson building, Downtown Asheville's oldest structure, if public officials don't take action soon. | Most recently, Gordon Smith of introduced the grassroots press conference, which was held on Aug. 7, 2008, under the magnolia tree in front of city hall. | For Gordon Smith's promised list of organizations opposed to Parkside, 
Click Here> | For Dave Ireland's Aug. 7 live report during the press conference, Click Here> | For Clare Hanrahan's almost-daily "Asheville On The Ground" reports, Click Here> 

within 35 Days | Carl Mumpower wrote an open letter on Aug. 8, 2008, stating that he does not support "imminent domain" (sic) at this time. | For Carl Mumpower's Aug. 8 position statement, Click Here>

 Clare Hanrahan  and Gordon Smith |
Clare Hanrahan of "Asheville On The Ground" and Gordon Smith of  "Scrutiny Hooligans" help keep the intertwined "Save The Magnolia" and "Stop Parkside" grassroots campaigns alive and on the front page.

*'I'D RATHER NOT HAVE THIS CONVERSATION,' writes Scrutiny Hooligans' founding blogger Gordon Smith about the Parkside end game | He sees three ways the Parkside condo controversy can end. Click Here>

 BLOG Continues to Provide Incredible Parkside Coverage | Gordon Smith, the founder of the locally popular blog, deserves an "Asheville Hero Award" from some grassroots organization for his and his associates' past and current work to: (1) take on the formidable and monied forces of Parkside developer Stewart Coleman (2) kick butt against the pass-the-hot-potato City Council (3) shine the ever-loving, hot spotlight of truth on the wrongful County Commissioners and its county manager Wanda Greene, who some believe was instrumental in creating the Parkside scandal in the first place. | For Scrutiny Hooligans and Gordon Smith's (ought-to-be award-winning) Parkside coverage, Click Here>

Stewart Coleman with Scary Stare * Photo: Byron Belzak / Mediabear Copyright 2008
 Reports Gordon Smith  | Parkside developer Stewart Coleman (above) on the attack at 6-24-08 Buncombe County Commissioners public meeting, as reported by Gordon Smith.
Click Here>

Alan Berger of Rosebud Video (left): One of thousands * Belzak/Mediabear

'WE ARE OUTRAGED' about Parkside,
Says PARC with over 6,500 signatures to 'Stop Parkside With Eminent Domain'
Proving it has wide-based community support with its continually growing number of signatures on its petition, the grassroots organization of Asheville PARC (People Advocating Real Conservancy) is demanding that the Buncombe County Commissioners resolve the controversial Parkside project. | For Asheville PARC's letter, Click Here>

*MORE PARKSIDE Websites | For Bill Rhodes' well-organized "Stop Parkside" website, Click Here> | For Coleman supporters' so-called "Parkside Truth" website, Click Here> | For parody "Parkside Truthiness" website to laugh so you won't cry, Click Here>

*COLEMAN WAITS FOR COUNTY'S "INFORMAL OFFER" To Become Formal "Offer to Purchase and Contract" | The hot air surrounding Parkside continues blowing hard as Buncombe County Commissioner David Gannt talked on WPVM-FM radio about Buncombe's "informal $4 million offer to Mr. Coleman." However, as any North Carolina real estate broker knows, such talk is meaningless. There is no such thing as an "informal offer." Only when an "offer to purchase and contract" in writing is signed and dated is there an offer. Bottom Line: Nothing new has happened as the hot potato stays in the lap of the county commissioners, the ones who started the whole mess in the first place. For WPVM interview with David Gannt, Click Here>

*BRYAN FREEBORN Weighs in on Parkside Mess | Former city council member Bryan Freeborn presents his point of view on one of Asheville's most popular blogs. For Freeborn's viewpoint on Scrutiny Hooligans, Click Here> 

*IS PARKSIDE A 'Spite House' in the Making? | Will Parkside developer Stewart Coleman construct a "spite house Ö a flamboyant symbol of defiance,Ē with no windows, only concrete, on two sides of his eight-story Parkside condominium? Itís a possibility, however remote, a well-known developer recently told Some scoff at the idea, and say itís arm-bending tactics by Coleman to try and get what he wants. Others do not take it so lightly. For a news analysis of a Coleman Spite House, 
Click Here>

* Photo: Lisa Ringelspaugh-Irvine /

Mamma Magnolia!
City-County Plaza Tree Vigil Continues 24/7, November Elections Coming

*DIXIE DEERMAN Won't Give Up the Fight | Given Dixie Deerman's 24/7 vigil under the magnolia tree since July 7 when the Technical Review Committee gave its unanimous consent to the controversial Parkside condo development, many now dub her as the Magnolia Priestess.

DIXIE DEERMAN (LADY PASSION): "Get Off My Lawn" Message to Parkside Developer Coleman * Photo: Bill Rhodes / AsheVillein

Others just call her by her Christian -- make that, Wiccan -- name: Lady Passion. By any name, she and others continue their 24/7 encampment under the 100-year-old magnolia rooted above the old jailhouse on Asheville's City-County Plaza.

She has been there religiously to protect it from -- and protest against -- Parkside developer Stewart Coleman and his hatchet men. 

This past weekend, Steve Rasmussen, Lady Passion's handfast mate, said, sardonically, to "The whole matter is endlessly entertaining."

For complete article,
Click Here>


Petition Banner: Before City Hall *
Kim Miller (c) 2008
*Is $4 Million Parkside Buy-out 
in the Works?
On Fri., July 25, 2008, county commissioners met behind closed doors to discuss how to clean up the Parkside Poop, and folks beforehand were hopefully that something might get done, since David Gannt had more than hinted that a $4 million offer to Parkside developer Stewart Coleman might be in the works. | Despite great public outcry and thousands signing a petition to demand that public officials invoke eminent domain to reclaim parkland and "Stop Parkside," the Buncombe County commissioners decided to hold up until late August when a judgment involving a lawsuit brought by George Pack's heirs is expected to be handed down. | 
Follow the money? But equally newsworthy is the discovery, as reported by MountainXpress, that over $2,000 was donated by Parkside developer Stewart Coleman to the political campaigns of Bill Stanley and Nathan Ramsey. Click Here>

*THE PARKSIDE SHUFFLE Moves In and Out | A Scrutiny Hooligans' exclusive "idea in motion" of what's new and what's happening to local taxpayers (a.k.a., voters) in the won't-it-ever-go-away Parkside saga. Click Here>

*ASHEVILLE DISCLAIMER REPORTS Tourist Recovering from Mob Attack for Peeing on Parkside Magnolia | Not true, but it's funny weird. Click Here>

ASHEVILLE ON THE GROUND Helps Save Asheville's Most Famous Tree, Keeps the "Magnolia Watch" News Coming | The under the magnolia 24/7 vigil continues to protect Asheville's most famous tree from Parkside developer Stewart Coleman and his hatchet men. And nearly every day Clare Hanrahan files an "under the magnolia" report with magical musings. She's doing her part to keep the community rooted in what really matters. Go visit her in person under the magnolia in front of city hall, and tell her your "under the magnolia" story. She wants to know.
Click Here>

*IMPORTANT PUBLIC SHOWDOWN MEETING on June 24, 2008, Buncombe County Commissioners Meeting to Discuss the ParkSide Mess
As the rules allow: "All Commission meetings are open to the public and public comment is taken before every meeting. The pre-meetings begin at 4 p.m. and if you wish to comment, you must sign in prior to 4:10 p.m. You will be called on by the Chairman and given 3 minutes to make comments. Comments are taken prior to the regular meeting that begins at 4:30 p.m." Click Here>

*City Council Member Carl Mumpower Cautions County Commissioners about Quick City Land Swap in Seeking a Solution to the ParkSide Problem
Council member Mumpower recently wrote to Nathan Ramsey, Chairman of the Buncombe County Commissioners, who had responded to a letter from a concerned citizen about the ParkSide project. Click Here>

"The Asheville Three" Calls for Daily Protest to Demand Return of Public Parkland Sold to Private Developer Stewart Coleman
Beginning the same day as the Buncombe County Commissioners meeting on June 24, 2008, "The Asheville Three" and other concerned citizens are looking to grow support in its protest against the ParkSide project and to regain Asheville's central park land sold by the county to private developer Stewart Coleman, whose next scheduled hurdle for the project comes at an important governmental meeting on July 7, according to Frank Adams. Click Here>

*July 7 Technical Meeting Looms for ParkSide

*PARKSIDE STILL REQUIRES PERMIT APPROVALS by the City and County | A important technical meeting on July 7 presents Coleman's Parkside project with another hurdle, reports MountainXpress. Click Here>


*COLEMAN Reduces ParkSide Square Footage to Try and Avoid Asheville City Council Vote and Public Hearing
ParkSide developer Stewart Coleman reduced the square footage of his ParkSide project just below the 100,000 square foot threshold, which apparently will allow it to avoid City Council approval and public hearing.
Click Here>


*GORDON SMITH'S SCRUTINY HOOLIGANS Blog Leads the Charge Against ParkSide Condo Proposal
Click Here>

Parkside Update
*COLEMAN PUSHES FORWARD, Is the Word on the Street | Stewart Coleman is rumored to be trying to get his building permit for his controversial ParkSide Condominium project. A city official within the planning department told that this rumor was "a complete fabrication." Big rumors, big denials, council requests, and floated alternatives continue to swirl around one of Asheville's most controversial proposals of all time. So tell us what you know, Asheville. Click Here>

*SUE OR NOT TO SUE, That Is The Question Presented Now by in these EXCLUSIVE PARKSIDE INTERVIEWS | When asked at the Downtown Master Plan meeting on June 12 if the city was willing to sue the Buncombe County Commissioners and/or Coleman to prevent the ParkSide condo from being built on the old parkland in front of City Hall, City Council member Brownie Newman told "I would support a lawsuit," and Mayor Terry Bellamy responded: "I'm open to it." Both added that they hoped other means could and would be used to prevent the ParkSide construction on the Pack Square parkland that the County Commissioners sold to Coleman and his associates. Both said that the City's legal options are limited. On the morning of June 13, Council member Bill Russell told "I would like to see the city, county and developer sit down as professional adults and try to find a win-win-win situation that makes as many people as happy as possible to avoid a costly lawsuit." Other sources report that the lawsuit filed by the heirs of George W. Pack, who willed the parkland to the city over 100 years ago, is apparently moving ahead against Buncombe County and Coleman's company.
*SCRUTINY HOOLIGANS Takes On Parkside Condo Proposal and Buncombe Commissioners | Public outcry against the proposed ParkSide Condominiums continues on the streets (everybody's talking about it), in print (recent cover story in MountainXpress), and on the web (particularly on The Buncombe County Commissioners began the whole mess by quickly selling one of the most valuable pieces of downtown public parkland property right next to City Hall, an art deco wonder, with little public notice. An old Washington, D.C., adage assigned to a Buncombe County representative who was well known for spouting fish stories may be dusted off and applied today: "It's just a whole lot of Bunc." Click Here>

*MOUNTAINXPRESS PUBLISHES ParkSide Timeline | This excellent resource tool helps citizens keep things straight. Click Here>

ParkSide Developers Take to the Radio and Internet to Deflect Criticism

*PUBLIC RELATIONS BLITZ by ParkSide Developers Continues | Stewart Coleman and Tom Israel explained their ParkSide condominium proposal on Matt Mittan's show, which aired on WWNC radio 570 AM from 4 to 5 p.m. on Mon., May 19, 2008. A call-in questioner said he was "incredulous" that Pack Square's visual corridor was not kept in tact. The developers refuted the charge. An equal number of callers objected to and supported the project.

Note #1: ParkSide launched a new website at, which aggressively combats criticism: Click Here>. While the site provides a quote of FDR, "Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth," it does not clarify who is lying and who is telling the truth concerning ParkSide. 

Note #2: Donna Clark of the Pack Square Conservancy telephoned in to the show to say that the proposed building interferes with the park's viewshed. To visit the Conservancy's website, Click Here> 

Note #3: For Scrutiny Hooligans' continuing intense ParkSide coverage online, Click Here>

To post your views on concerning the Coleman/Israel ParkSide project, Click Here> 

Coleman Goes Public
*DEVELOPER STEWART COLEMAN Defends ParkSide Condo Project | In the current issue (May 15 - 21, 2008) of The Asheville Tribune, senior editor Bill Fishburne files his report about the controversial ParkSide condo proposed to be built in Pack Square after public parkland was sold to a group of developers by the Buncombe County commissioners. In The Tribune's exclusive report, Coleman is quoted: "We bought this land from the county with title insurance, based on the county's advertised price. This was not a backdoor deal." To read more, pick up a current issue of The Tribune. Click Here>

Asheville's 100-year-old magnolia tree faces the hatchet ...

"Inside the Park" condominiums raises community ire ...

City Council to decide fate of people's park ...


Photo by Wikipedia Commons




The mighty magnolia in
Asheville's central park has stood for 100 years. In a few weeks, Stewart Coleman, one of Asheville's most powerful citizens, and his hatchet men may have the power to chop it down.

It's now up to Asheville City Council to sort out the mess created by the Buncombe County Commissioners.

Here's the latest lowdownpublic poop, and bold blogs concerning the controversial Coleman/Swag Holdings/Black Dog Realty proposal to take down the tree and build a high-rise condo, known as Parkside Condominiums.

Ironically, "Parkside" would not be located beside the park, rather, many argue, it would be constructed inside the park, within the historic heart of Downtown Asheville, at Pack Square, inside a park deeded to the city by George Willis Pack with the stipulation that nothing, nada, no building would ever and forever be built inside the gifted park. Talk rages about a family-brought lawsuit and its likely outcome.

The stakes are as high as the drama.
No matter who is considered right, and no matter what anyone says, this downtown development battle is shaping up to be Public Interest versus Private Interest, Powerful Family versus Old Family, even, perhaps, Good versus Bad. How one defines those terms is up for grabs. For sure, it's a mess, a mighty could-have-been-avoided mess.

Coleman's currently planned Parkside Condominiums building would include previous park land that was sold by the current Buncombe County commissioners. And for that many Asheville Area citizens are spitting angry.

And boatloads of questions continue to surface about how this park land sale could even have gone through in the first place without public input. Who was minding the Jewel of the City?

For sure, it's a classic backroom deal, for which Commissioner David Gannt apologizes. As to be expected, other County Commissioners do not. And through it all, the watchdog group that calls itself Pack Square Conservancy says it's monitoring the situation. What a situation, indeed.

The final chapter approaches.
Powerful grassroots organizations are urging Asheville City Council and the planning and zoning department to stop the project. No final word yet.

The Downtown Commission likes the project. Some business folks like it, too. Others don't.

Pressure grows on all sides. Is the Parkside Problem the final straw that forces City Council to institute a temporary building moratorium, "a pause to plan," as Asheville PARC terms it?

Ashevillians against the Parkside project are reaching out far and wide, even to Portland, Oregon, to help understand this mess and the very definition of what "progress" is, or should be.

And this Parkside political-cultural-social-financial-legal-ethical mess made at least one Philadelphian who became an Ashevillian search local used bookstores for a copy of James Michener's shortest book, "Quality of Life." 

Of course, Michener's "Quality" may not provide any direct answers as they pertain to Parkside and Downtown Asheville's future; however, it may provide some solace for the weary of the same old, same old.

You know: one searches for the perfect American dream, finds it, then crushes it with love. And it's nobody's fault. Right? Anyway, Michener says it much more eloquently and weighs all sides with genius precision.

So many questions. So much uncertainty. So ... Oh!

In private and in public, frustrated citizens have pointedly questioned the mettle of Asheville City Council, its very backbone, in standing up to developers' every wish and whim. Remember how so smooth as butter The Ellington approval ran through the butter knife of scrutiny by the previously elected progressive Council?

And perhaps understandably (but certainly unsightly), at least one City Council member publiclly got all in a huff this time about one citizen's public accusation that the Council was, in so many words, "on the take." Did she protest too much?

Q: Will the beauty and expansiveness of Pack Square Park be lost forever?
A: It's up to this Mayor and City Council.

Q: Will loading docks be allowed to be built next to a historic church valued by the African-American community?
It's up to this Mayor and City Council.

Q: Who will control the sustainability, heritage and pedestrian-friendliness of Downtown Asheville?
Three things are certain:
One, it's a showdown for what matters most to Asheville's most powerful. Two, it's a crossroads of whether Asheville is a city of towers or not. Three, it's a countdown to a cutting of a mighty tree, which might mark the end -- or continuation -- of a dream of what Asheville still remains -- beautiful, enchanting, accessible, friendly, funky, sexy, unique. 

The countdown to a crossroads begins ... WHEN?
City Council will vote possibly as early as May 2008 to approve or disapprove the Parkside project -- and decide to save or destroy Downtown Asheville's famous magnolia. And in the process Council will choose to crush or conserve something much more valuable, more fragile, more important: the public trust.

Copyright 2008 MediaBear All rights reserved.


Law firm McGuire, Wood, Bissette represents SBColeman.

Bissette used to represent the grassroots group, Asheville PARC, and now has jumped the fence to represent Coleman.

Coleman built 21 Battery Park condos that now overshadows the smaller, historic Flat Iron Building.

Parkside Condo building architect Mark Fishero of Fishero-McGuire-Krueger told Council there's nothing fishy about the Pack Square project idea. 

For more news about newly proposed Downtown Asheville high-rises, click here> 

The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe says the downtown skyland has not changed much since the 1920s. Click Here>


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