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Controversy In Historic Building's Final Days

United Central Methodist Church in Asheville has waded into a controversy of practicality versus preservation, as it plans to tear down an historic but dilapidated warehouse building across the street.

The demolition of the red brick building that has facades on Church Street and Lexington Avenue will make room for a parking lot that local businesses and some residents say are badly needed in that area of downtown.
"The one thing we hear more from our customers here at The Altamont Theater is 'Hey where can we park,'" said General Manager Paul Metcaff.

But making way for dozens of new spots means tearing down a building built in the 1800s that's been home to a tobacconist, a printing press, a dry cleaners and a church.

Some say the easier parking isn't worth it.

"Well I think there's a great Aloft parking lot within eyeshot, so it's sad to see a nice historic building go down," said Rody Singer.

Bryan Murtha works at a restaurant across the street. "I know that people love taking their wedding photos with this building and we see all sort of photographers doing things with it," said Murtha.

The Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County has tried to save it, and organized a tour around the building's exterior last Saturday, taking a photograph in front of the group holding a sign that reads: The Place Matters.

The city granted a demolition permit to the church last year, some making the point that the warehouse is dilapidated beyond repair.

A spokesman for the church reached Friday afternoon said United Central Methodist had no comment.

Local residents told News 13 workers said the building would be demolished Monday.

By Ashlea Surles
Follow Ashlea on Twitter @AshleaSurles



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