The City of Asheville is working with a consultant team led by Code Studio of Austin, Texas to develop a form-based code for the River Arts District. Asheville’s City Council is supportive of fostering sustainable infill development, strengthening the relationship between public and private spaces, promoting high quality urban design, and implementing the community’s adopted 2025 plan vision of vibrant, mixed use districts in Asheville’s urban areas. As part of their support for these goals, in 2014 the city of Asheville adopted it’s first form-based code; also drafted by a consultant team led by Code Studio; covering about two miles of the Haywood Road corridor in West Asheville. The River Arts District is the second area of Asheville to develop a form-based code.
The River Arts District, located between Downtown and West Asheville and adjacent to the railroad and the French Broad River, has significant history as an industrial center of Asheville. Like many industrial areas across the US, the textile mills, tanneries and agricultural distribution centers at its heart were mostly abandoned after World War II. The ending of passenger rail service in the late sixties decisively ended the district’s character as an area of major investment in business and other opportunities.
Beginning in the 1970’s and 1980’s, artists began moving into the area because of low rents and large spaces available for creative uses. Now it is a place known for celebrating creative, independent commerce, where 200 artists and a dozen restaurateurs have created a neighborhood over the past twenty years by filling vacant historic warehouses and storefronts along the French Broad River.
Recently in the District, the City and it’s federal partners have worked with the community to develop a plan for over $40 Million in multimodal infrastructure investments, the New Belgium Brewery is redeveloping a 14 acre brownfield site for its east coast expansion brewery, and all of the existing buildings that can be renovated are at or near completion. Additionally, the City’s economic development office created the Riverside Drive Development Plan, a re-use strategy for ten acres of publically owned land in the middle of the District. Current zoning does not support the urban and walkable development called for in the Plan.
A new, form-based code will help address known issues in the District, including housing affordability, maintaining an industrial and art-centered atmosphere, the presence of the flood plain, known and unknown contamination issues, and adjacency to the railroad right-of-way. The process will begin with an extensive public input process including a kick-off meeting and a multi-day charrette from July 25 – 29.
Click the image to download a copy of the project boundary.