Asheville’s next urban park?

A group of downtown residents is urging the city of Asheville to convert city property in front of the Civic Center into a new urban park. The property, acquired for a planned parking deck and other development projects that have now been abandoned, includes a couple of buildings and some surface parking in the area between the Civic Center, the Basilica St. Lawrence, the Battery Park apartment building and the Grove Arcade. The city has recently indicated that it will consider plans for the properties in the near future.

Demolition last year of a building at the intersection of Page Avenue and Haywood Street opened a view of the Basilica that had been blocked for decades, while the area has been touted as a potential park for years. Chuck Tessier, a downtown developer and former Buncombe County planning director, told City Council several years ago that the space is the logical place for Asheville’s next park.

The pro-park activists have posted a Web site promoting their plan.

— Cecil Bothwell, staff writer


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About Cecil Bothwell
A writer for Mountain Xpress since three years before there WAS an MX--back in the days of GreenLine. Former managing editor of the paper, founding editor of the Warren Wilson College environmental journal, Heartstone, member of the national editorial board of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, publisher of Brave Ulysses Books, radio host of "Blows Against the Empire" on WPVM-LP 103.5 FM, co-author of the best selling guide Finding your way in Asheville. Lives with three cats, macs and cacti. His other car is a canoe. Paints, plays music and for the past five years has been researching and soon to publish a critical biography--Billy Graham: Prince of War:

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2 thoughts on “Asheville’s next urban park?

  1. orz

    I think that it’s a good idea to have some park space in this part of downtown – but I do not agree that all the city owned parcels and the church parcel should be left configured exactly as is and turned into a park, because it would integrate very poorly with its surroundings. (Anyone remember how the original City-County Plaza didn’t feel very welcoming?)

    First, the way that Haywood Street bends around is a relic from the 1920s when Battery Hill still existed. That hill was obliterated for the construction of the new Battery Park Hotel and the Grove Arcade. Haywood Street should continue on to Flint Street, and the western part of Haywood should meet it at a “T” intersection.

    Also, several of the edges of these parcels face the backsides of buildings. The long edge along the Battery Park Apartments faces the building’s back. The southern edge of the City-owned properties will be facing blank walls – hardly an inviting parkscape.

    I say by allocating the majority of the land for a park, reconfiguring the streets in the area, and selling/leasing the remainder of the land for development, we’ll get a park that really integrates with the urban environment rather than one that feels more like an incidental afterthought.

    And finally, we should put a parking deck where it belongs – the Bell South parking lot! Wrap it with retail and apartments along N French Broad and O’Henry. If the city can threaten emminent domain against the church, why can’t they do the same against BellSouth?

    Check this url for a drawing I did:

  2. I hope they build a park there. Just the other day I heard bums in Pritchard Park complaining about how they needed a new place to hang out.

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