On Wednesday, before a room full of residents who own property or businesses along the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers, a study group unanimously voted to pursue a City Council-appointed Riverfront Redevelopment Commission.
The work group, helmed by Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy and Buncombe County Board Chair David Gantt, also included Asheville Chamber of Commerce President Rick Lutofsky, RiverLink Executive Director Karen Cragnolin, Council of Independent Business Owners Executive Director Mike Plemmons and River Arts District cofounder Patty Torno.
The goal of the committee, explained Bellamy, would be to recommend policies to Asheville City Council that would encourage and guide development along Asheville’s riverfront.
“My vision for the commission is one that does the same thing for the riverfront that the Downtown Commission did for downtown,” said Torno. “I’m tired of people saying, ‘When is this going to happen?’”
During public comment from the likes of Mountain Housing Opportunities’ Executive Director Scott Dedman, Greenway Commission Mark Hunt and property owner Chris Peterson, each person had specific ideas and priorities for the future of the riverfront. But there were no objections to the formation of a new city commission, which will require a vote and appointments by Asheville City Council. Appointments will also be made by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, RiverLink, CIBO and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.
— Brian Postelle, staff writer