Well things have a very different feel around these parts on the weekends. I'm not sure entirely how to account for that but it is true. The sketch factor is replaced by families and the vacant buildings are less noticeable (maybe since it's quieter and more stores are closed anyway?). Maybe there are more 2 parent working families in our neighborhood and so they just aren't around as much during the weekdays?
We still don't have a stove or oven so we've been going out to eat and getting around our neighborhood a bit more. I think I can have the walkable community I wanted and in that regard think we made the right decision to move here. The unfortunate parts of downtown West Asheville is that really only one side of the street is being reclaimed... and of course it is the other side from us and Kid's school. There are about 2 blocks of mostly new businesses and then on our side (where clearly most of the original architecture was torn down) is a gas station, some misc odd stuff, a parking lot, a self serve car wash, a gas station, an abandoned gas station ,and then things pick up a bit with 2 restaurants before you reach Kid's school. On the other side of the drag there is a grocery store and then it is kind of touch & go with some new stores and some old stores.
One issue the contributes to the run down appearance of the downtown for me is that we're walking in front of all the shitty stuff and that there are no easements between the sidewalk and the road or the sidewalk and the gas stations... which not only looks grimier but feels more dangerous while walking your two little kids along the edge of a busy road. I'm actively looking for an alternate route that isn't too much out of our way. I do think if West Asheville had grassy easements (especially w/ trees) the little downtown would seem a lot more like a destination and a lot less like a drive thru area. I think for those locals who come to shop they park by the bakery or market and most likely stick to that smaller area where things do in fact feel a bit reclaimed. It would take a big developer to come in (which isn't desirable either) and have the money to tear down the gas station and build something else, and I don't think that'll happen anytime soon.
Outside of all that I have been delighted (slash disappointed) to discover that you can actually see the mountains from West Asheville... just not from our block! I think once the trees lose their leaves I might be able to see them a bit while walking around with the kids. It was a hard choice for me to make between living some place more naturally beautiful and living some place more walkable... I'll be really happy if I can have a bit of both.