Asheville kicks off the riverfront design process for the River Arts District

A redesign project for Asheville’s downtown riverfront got underway today when the city held a “kick off” meeting to announce phase one of the planning and design of roadway and greenway improvements in the River Arts District.

The session took place at the Seven Star Factory in Riverview Station on Lyman Street.

The meeting was covered somewhat unusually by government officials, rather than by traditional media, who “published” their coverage via Twitter. City Council member Gordon Smith provided the first reports, as well as photos; these were followed by more tweets from Brian Postelle, a public information officer for the city of Asheville (and former staff news reporter for Mountain Xpress).


DeWayne Barton listens to the riverway presentation at 7Star Studio.
Photo by Gordon Smith

Wilma Dikeman Riverway presentation on Lyman St. is about to begin. This place is packed (Gordon Smith tweeted from the meeting)

Brian Postelle tweeted the following:
The upcoming design process for the riverway project along Lyman Street and Riverside Drive was announced at the meeting. The design process will involve public input to determine what’s the best fit for the riverfront.

Environmental-impact documents & prelimary engineering for the project will be paid for by federal appropriations thru NCDOT.

Mayor Bellamy: Riverway will make the Asheville riverfront a premier place to work, live and play.

Mayor Bellamy speaks at the presentation. Photo by Gordon Smith

RiverLink Directorr Karen Cragnolin spoke about the history of the Wilma Dykeman plan that was adopted by Asheville City Council.

Here’s the text of the city’s release:

The Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Master Plan is a vision for greenways and corridor improvements specifically to promote mixed-use, mixed-income, multi-modal infill development along 17 miles of the Riverfront area.  The plan, which was finalized in 2004, was spearheaded by RiverLink.

The City of Asheville and its partners are beginning a process to conduct environmental analysis, preliminary engineering and design for Riverside Drive and Lyman Street, which are the city-maintained streets in the corridor. The project extends from Hill Street near Interstate-240 on the north end, to Amboy Road on the south end.

The designers of the RiverWay will seek to balance the needs of motorists, bicycle riders, and pedestrians.  The design will pay special attention to plans for economic development and redevelopment, environmental issues such flood protection and stormwater runoff, protection of historic properties, provisions for future transit service, and aesthetic considerations. The process will include a significant public involvement component.

This project is funded through a federal appropriation from the US Department of Transportation.  Working closely with partners such as RiverLink and the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the City of Asheville released a request for proposals, and through a competitive process, selected the firm of Wilbur Smith Associates (WSA) to carry out the study.  WSA will be assisted by the firms of LandDesign, MACTEC Environmental, Matthews Architecture, Blue Ridge Archaeological Consultants, and others.

The consultants will deliver a federally approved environmental document and a preliminary design for the project.  This will put the City of Asheville and its partners in a position to begin seeking funding for construction. Ultimately, the transportation improvements are likely to include road relocation and widening, turn-lanes, and paved shoulders.  The project will include the addition of some on-street parking, intersection and signal upgrades, railroad crossing improvements, bridge reconstruction, sidewalks, streetscape elements, transit amenities, and construction of parallel greenway facilities.

Karen Cragnolin, executive director of Riverlink, speaks about the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Master Plan. Photo by Michael Muller

About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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2 thoughts on “Asheville kicks off the riverfront design process for the River Arts District

  1. orulz

    Looks like momentum is building behind improvements in the river district. The roundabout on Clingman Avenue is one piece. Commercial and residential development like Glen Rock is another.

    The Riverway is another big piece, although it’s still just in the planning and design phase. Nevertheless I applaud the eventual goal of lining the entire river with bike paths and parks.

    This segment is the easy part since the city controls the streets. The other parts north and south of here will be more difficult since they are NCDOT streets.

  2. Maria

    I also applaud the project but really want to express my concern that the outcome will be a little too sterile. I’m all for making the whole riverfront area pedestrian and environmentally friendly but don’t discount that hundreds of Ashevillians flock to the Wedge and surrounding area every day already. It is the dust and grime and banging of train cars that lures us. The River Arts District must maintain some of its seediness and industry or it will just be another Disney-like riverwalk. Take a closer look at the photo on the Guideline Book Ms. Cragnolin is holding up. Do you see anything that resembles the grafitti, grit and fun of our RAD?

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