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WNC Business

Blue Note Junction's sustainable community vision

Mar 25, 2024 06:19PM ● By WNC Business

ASHEVILLE - As part of the Creative Spaces Report, ArtsAVL looks forward to showcasing profiles of local creative spaces in response to a critical lack of affordable living and work space in Buncombe County. The first in the series is Blue Note Junction, a community health and business incubator dedicated to BIPOC entrepreneurs and artists. Asheville’s first community-owned real estate project, Blue Note Junction will be located in the historically Black Burton Street neighborhood of West Asheville. The goal of its founders is to build an economic engine and cultural hub that supports BIPOC makers, entrepreneurs, and growers throughout the region.

The location of Blue Note Junction in a historically Black community in Asheville deliberately centers residents and their voices. The Burton Street neighborhood is already home to the Peace Gardens & Market, an outdoor space and community destination. Blue Note Junction’s co-founders, DeWayne Barton and Safi Martin, created the Gardens in the early 2000s, envisioning a place that would support an inclusive culture of sustainability.

Black-owned businesses account for fewer than 2.3% of business ownership nationwide. The creative sector in Buncombe County was hard hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, and recovery was slower than at national levels. Asheville is more expensive than 98% of North Carolina, and rents have also risen 41.7% since 2020, pricing out many creatives, especially BIPOC artists. Not only will Blue Note Junction provide a needed business incubator for BIPOC entrepreneurs and artists, it will also function as a model for commercial real estate and will have a larger impact on community health, driving benefits to investors, community partners, tenants, visitors, and the local economy.

Blue Note Junction also takes a broad, varied approach to community building, opening the way for a wide variety of tenants who will bring a diversity of offerings to the space. Planned tenants include an indoor and outdoor performance venue, an outdoor community spa, a fresh market, a garage for Hood Tours, a commercial kitchen, a co-working space, a counseling center, a hair salon and barber shop, an artist studio village, and a Black history tour. It will also include affordable housing: four two-story quadruplexes of 400-500-square-foot studios that can be used as live/work spaces.

Asheville Creative Arts will be an anchor tenant, occupying Blue Note Junction’s indoor performance space, a flexible black box theater. Abby Felder, an ACA contributing artist, shares that “Many artists and the spaces which are serving artists’ needs are being priced out of the city, and for artists of color, this is especially impactful. Early studies conducted by ArtsAVL pointed to the need for the type of live/work spaces Blue Note Junction will provide, which will help to shore up Asheville’s arts ecosystem.”

The plans for Blue Note Junction tap into existing resources, including the Burton Street Neighborhood Plan, according to Felder. That allows the team to serve community needs and “add capacity to local efforts to preserve a culture facing erasure due to highway expansions and changing neighborhood demographics.”

The project’s first phase could begin in late 2024 or early 2025 and would include the greenhouse, open-air market, outdoor event venue, gardens, and art installations. Phase 2 would target the affordable housing and commercial side of the operation. The target completion date is currently the end of 2027.

Stay tuned for more profiles of creative spaces and for ArtsAVL’s Creative Spaces Report, which will assess the local creative landscape to provide crucial information for understanding the current reality and possible paths forward for the creative community. Visit for project updates and register for the upcoming Town Hall on May 10.

Source: ArtsAVL
Blue Note Junction rendering | Alliance Architecture