Asheville kicks off RiverWay redevelopment planning process

In a kickoff event at the River District’s Riverview Station, the City of Asheville announced the launch of a environmental study and preliminary redesign process for Riverside Drive and Lyman Street.

The announcement marks a step toward the realization of the Wilma Dykeman Riverway Plan, a system of parks and greenways, roadway improvements, and context-sensitive development opportunities along the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers. Among other positives, the connectivity would encourage multi-modal transportation opportunities like bicycling, and enhance access to the city’s river fronts. The Wilma Dykeman plan, championed by the local nonprofit RiverLink, was formally adopted by Asheville City Council in 2004.

The planning, which will be overseen by Wilbur Smith Associates, is funded by a federal appropriation channeled through the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The plans are needed in order to secure funding for the restructuring of the corridor.

In her remarks, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy compared reworking the riverfront to the resurgence of Asheville’s downtown, and said it would make the areas by the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers more inviting to residents and guests.

“This will make Asheville’s riverfront a premier location to work, live and play,” Mayor Bellamy said.

In 2009, Asheville City Council formed the Asheville Riverfront Redevelopment Commission, an appointed body that will make recommendations on initiatives pertaining to the riverfront such as redevelopment in the area. That commission began meeting in May.

Reflecting the partnerships and cooperation the riverfront initiative has engendered, speakers at the kick-off event included City of Asheville Transportation Director Ken Putnam, River District Design Review Committee Chair Jane Matthews, RiverLink Executive Director Karen Cragnolin and LandDesign principal and landscape architect Stephanie Pankiewicz. Pankiewicz has been selected by the City of Asheville to head up an extensive public input process during the planning phase.