Junk Tires to Smart Cars
Green Scene, Mountain Express
Published February 18, 2009
by Margaret Williams in Vol. 15 / Iss. 30 on 02/18/2009


Susan Roderick was driving down Clingman Avenue one recent Sunday afternoon when she spied a young man toiling on a steep wooded slope across from The Grey Eagle. In recent years, many young homeowners in the neighborhood have undertaken cleanup projects, says Roderick, whose office is nearby, and she wondered if he’d like to plant some of the extra bulbs she had in her car.

Stopping to offer the bulbs, she found that Brennan was trying to remove hundreds of discarded tires littering the hillside. But they’d been there so long, most were weighed down with mud, leaves and water, and he couldn’t move all of them alone.

Happily, however, Roderick is the director of Asheville GreenWorks (formerly Quality Forward), so she knows about cleanup projects. “I remembered this pile from walking [the route] of a proposed greenway several years ago,” says Roderick. The leaf-covered old roadbed runs up the hill behind Carolina StoneWorks—part of a route listed as “Clingman Forest” in the city of Asheville’s 2003 update of its Greenway Master Plan. Another local nonprofit, Mountain Housing Opportunities, had been working on that particular project, and Roderick wasn’t sure what the status was.

But her group maintains a small fund for impromptu jobs, and Roderick called a frequent GreenWorks volunteer who she knew needed work and hired him and his crew to move the tires. She also persuaded Buncombe County landfill officials to waive the usual fee for disposing of old tires.

“There’s at least 500 of them,” says Roderick. “You have to see [this pile] ‘in the flesh’ to appreciate how big it is.” With no tire business currently in the vicinity, it isn’t clear where the tires came from or how long they’ve been there. Years ago, she points out, the landfill didn’t accept tires, so it was common for dealers to let them pile up—or dispose of them illegally in the French Broad River, local gullies and other out-of-the-way places.

But these days, old tires can be recycled as running tracks or playground surfaces, says Roderick, adding, “We’re very excited to get these tires moved.”

A smart car and a condo too

You can leave your gas-guzzling SUV someplace else if you buy one of the new condos proposed for 73 N. Market Street. You won’t need it: Each 2,300-square-foot, green-built residence will come with a smart fortwo vehicle. No other automobile—not even the minuscule MINI Cooper—will fit in the building’s underground garage, says Jeremy Goldstein of North Market Street Investments, the developer.

Billed as a “conscientious Asheville condominium,” 73 N. Market will feature the world’s first high-rise with an underground parking structure built exclusively for the tiny urban cars, Goldstein claims. “It speaks to our current cultural paradigm,” says the New Jersey native. He and his wife moved to Asheville about 10 years ago, seeking “a small environment” with city amenities but fewer of the headaches they experienced in the Northeast. Two children later, he’s here to stay and a convert to Asheville’s enviro-friendly culture. With units priced at about $2 million, the current project, says Goldstein, targets “the most discerning buyers,” particularly those committed to a sustainable lifestyle.

The 13-story structure will feature a living green roof, solar panels, rainwater collection, low-E glass, automated lighting/shading systems and local building materials, says Elihu Siegman, president of the Asheville-based Siegman Associates, and he and architect Michael Silverman will be seeking LEED certification (the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system) for it.

Throw in the ultra-low-emissions smart car and you have a distinctly urban-Asheville flair. “When I drove the smart fortwo, I felt like I was driving in the future,” says Siegman. The pintsize vehicles are 95 percent recyclable, he notes, explaining that condo owners will be able to drive directly into an elevator that will take them down to the parking garage.

One entire floor of the luxury building will be dedicated to a fitness facility and guest quarters. Architecturally speaking, it will pay homage to another slim-profile downtown structure, the 1920s-era Jackson Building, but with a modern exterior that will feature an artistic weaving of metal, glass and brick, says Siegman, adding, “Every building tells a tale of its time.”

For more information about Asheville GreenWorks, go to http://www.ashevillegreenworks.org, or call 254-1776. To learn more about the condo project, go to http://73northmarket.com, or call 281-4024.