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2017 Downtown Heroes Announced


The Asheville Downtown Association today announced the recipients of its 2017 Heroes Awards.

Recipients of the traditional Downtown Hero Award are Jim Samsel and David Brown. Traditional Heroes are individuals or organizations who have dedicated time and effort to revitalizing Downtown Asheville over a significant period of time

Jim Samsel

Jim’s deep and active commitment to Downtown Asheville revitalization spans almost 40 years (1980-2017) and is characterized by his service and contributions. Over the decades, Jim engaged with the revitalization process through a wide set of roles: volunteer in early downtown planning efforts; strategist; investor in numerous downtown buildings; architect for many downtown projects; advisor and organizer for Pack Square Park; donor to downtown projects and organizations; leader in historic preservation; early board member of the new Asheville Downtown Association, among others.

David Brown

David was an original member and leader for the group who opposed the Strauss-Greenberg Plan, which would have destroyed 11 blocks of downtown to build a mall complex. He was also a strong proponent and supporter of allowing the sale of mixed beverages in downtown, a contributing factor in growing our restaurant industry. David engaged in the rehabilitation and revitalization of numerous downtown buildings and was a leader in converting the upper stories of these buildings to apartments, building downtown’s residential population. David also served on the NC Department of Transportation Board of Directors, the Bele Chere Board of Directors and as a member of the Civic Center Commission.

The “Unsung Hero” award, which honors the legacy of Julian Price goes to the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association. This award recognizes individuals or organizations who contribute to downtown’s success in a grassroots or understated way.

Asheville Independent Restaurant Association

Asheville’s independent restaurants are significant supporters of our nonprofit community, often donating food and staff to ensure the success of a fundraising event. AIR supports entrepreneurial restaurateurs by providing access to training and best practices. And in turn, restaurants support the local economy including farmers, artisan food makers, distillers, brewers and more.

Heroes were recognized at the Asheville Downtown Association’s Annual Meeting on Wednesday, August 23.