Chamblee’s mayor and City Council are traveling with seven staff members this week to Asheville, North Carolina, for a tour and meetings with officials there.
The DeKalb County city planned the visit because it hopes to replicate some of Asheville’s success on affordable housing, arts and downtown development, spokeswoman Tisa Moore told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The two-day trip starts Thursday and involves a walking tour of downtown Asheville and meetings with city staff, according to plans filed on Chamblee’s website.
Asheville, located about 200 miles from Chamblee in western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, is partly known for its vibrant downtown arts scene and historic architecture.
The trip cost Chamblee about $5,550, Moore said. That includes hotel expenses, meals and meeting spaces. Thirteen officials from Chamblee are slated to take part in the trip: Mayor Eric Clarkson and the city’s five councilmembers, as well as the city manager, deputy city manager, senior management analyst, economic and community development director, chief of police, planning and development director and city clerk, according to Moore.
The officials are traveling to and from Asheville on their own, but are eligible to be reimbursed for mileage when they return, Moore said. The group plans to stay at the Foundry Hotel in downtown Asheville, according to city documents. They will eat at restaurants including Pack’s Tavern and Benne on Eagle.
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Officials hope to learn about Asheville’s downtown revitalization effort, as Chamblee works on a plan to turn its historic downtown district into a “town center” and increase development on major corridors like Peachtree Boulevard.
“Asheville has utilized many effective tools to grow the business community, tourism and become a place for regional headquarters and industry,” Moore said in a statement.
Chamblee has also touted Asheville’s affordable housing policies, which include $25 million in bonds that support a housing trust fund and help Asheville develop city-owned land into affordable housing. Officials also plan to examine Asheville’s arts scene to gather ideas for Chamblee, which recently adopted an “Arts Master Plan” and hopes to implement it soon.
“Asheville has grown and supported a rich community of artisans, guilds, galleries and craft shops that work to celebrate all types of art including traditional and contemporary works from American and Western North Carolina artists across a variety of mediums,” Moore said.
Other cities were considered for the trip, Moore said, but “we ultimately decided that Asheville’s experience most closely aligned with topics that we wanted to further explore and discuss.”
Asheville is considerably larger than Chamblee, with an estimated population of 92,452 in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Chamblee has about 30,000 residents.
The excursion is similar to those organized by the Atlanta Regional Commission, where officials from metro Atlanta travel to other cities to meet with leaders and discussed shared interests and issues. In May, ARC led a group of 100 local government and business leaders to Pittsburgh for a three-day trip.
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