Historic Cotton Mill Studios: New Ownership, New Possibilities
ASHEVILLE, NC—The Cotton Mill Studios in the River Arts District is under new ownership. Richard Patino and Jannette Montenegro purchased the turn-of-the-century building at the end of June for $1,950,000. The landmark 7,954-square-foot building is located at 122 Riverside Drive, and is one of 22 former industrial and historical buildings that make up the River Arts District (known as RAD), featuring more than 200 artists along the one-mile stretch of the French Broad.
The Historic Cotton Mill Studios houses eight studios and is home to Asheville mixed-media artist Andy Herod and The Asheville Guitar Bar, both of whom will stay on as tenants. The remaining six studios are currently available to rent, and are 800 to 900 square feet in size. They can be reduced or expanded as needed. While most of the available spaces will be reserved for artists, Rich and Jannette are open to some unique possibilities.
Currently, the Asheville Guitar Bar draws a crowd in the evenings and on Sunday afternoons. The new owners would like to see a local business attract activity to the studios during the day.
“We love the creativity of the Asheville community and are excited to see what interest comes along. We are open to different business models moving into the ground floor, possibly a cafe, salon, boutique retail space, or an eatery,” says Richard. He and Jannette can envision adding some outdoor seating with a view of the French Broad River across the way.
The Historic Cotton Mill Studios has a parking lot to support increased visitation, with around 40 spaces for cars.
Paving the Way
The purchase of the Historic Cotton Mill Studios comes at a particularly exciting time in the development of the River Arts District. City Council recently unanimously voted to increase the RAD revitalization plan from $50 million to $54 million—the biggest capital improvement project in Asheville’s history.
Core features of the project include widening the greenway for shared use by pedestrians and bicyclists, opening a botanical gardens, installing Asheville’s first boat ramp, adding 1,648 new trees, and creating a community plaza with a children’s play sculpture. Road realignments and a new roundabout will also take place on Riverside, where the Historic Cotton Mills Studio is located.
The Historic Cotton Mills Studio will remain open during the construction, and with the sizable lot, parking won’t be an issue.
“We think the plans for the RAD and the Riverfront Greenway are going to be phenomenal,” says Jannette. “The Historic Cotton Mill Studios is at the convergence of art, music, the river, and the history and architecture of Asheville. It’s going to be so much fun with art strolling, listening to live music, tubing, hiking, eating tacos, and drinking beer. It’s going to be fantastic!”
A Love Affair with Asheville
To Rich and Jannette, who have been together for 17 years, family and community is everything. They both grew up in Miami, Florida, with parents who were Cuban immigrants, and for the last 15 years, they have made Asheville their part-time home, with a home base in Miami.
“We have an extended, modern family that includes our parents, siblings, two kids, five godchildren, three nieces, one super cute nephew, and several unofficially adopted kids,” says Jannette.
“Our kids and godchildren have grown up hiking, rafting, and tubing in Western North Carolina. They grew up enjoying music with us at the Belle Chere festivals and NOC events.”
Richard began visiting Asheville while he was still in high school and fell in love with the area and its recreational activities—hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking. Asheville, he says, is his favorite place on earth. As a nature enthusiast, he’s working on getting certified as a Blue Ridge Naturalist through the North Carolina Arboretum.
“Rich brought me to Asheville 20 years ago. We were picked up by his friends at the airport and went straight to Barley’s for pizza and beer. Afterwards, we went on a night hike to the top of Craggy Pinnacle. I had never seen so many stars! I immediately fell in love with Asheville,” says Jannette.
“Not long after, we both knew that we would consider Asheville home, and we started to establish roots. Now it’s all culminating in this purchase of the Historic Cotton Mill Studios, which we are honored and overjoyed to own,” says Rich.
Back in Miami, Rich and Jannette are involved with several nonprofits. Here in Asheville they are members of Asheville Greenworks and RiverLink, and are eager to give back to the community.
Good Things Ahead
The Historic Cotton Mill Studios will have a grand reopening in October. They are also planning to host an Instagram meetup in August organized by the local “Asheville Instameet” group. Details on both events will be forthcoming. With a website currently under construction, you can stay up to date on Historic Cotton Mill Studios by following along on Facebook at Historic Cotton Mill Studios. Anyone interested in renting the available studios can contact property manager Bill Spears, Kirk H. Booth Real Estate at (828) 508-1329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.