The City of Asheville will be extending the AVL Shares Space initiatives through Jan. 3, 2021, in order to continue providing businesses and organizations with opportunities to expand outdoors during COVID-19. In addition to the extension, new guidelines are being provided to participants that address winter-related accommodations and safety requirements.
The goals of these initiatives continue to focus on supporting economic vitality and safe customer access in alignment with public health guidelines.
Launched in May and June, the AVL Shares Space initiatives include the following:
- Curbside Pick-Up Zones
- Expansion on private property
- Expansion on areas of adjacent public sidewalk
- Expansion in adjacent on-street parking spaces (temporary parklet program)
- Expansion in on-street parking spaces along a designated pedestrian priority zone (shared streets program)
There are currently 78 businesses and organizations authorized to expand outdoors through these initiatives. A survey conducted in early September resulted in the following feedback from participating businesses and organizations:
- 61% of respondents indicated that the outdoor expansion opportunity has had a very positive impact on their business/organization and 18% reported a positive impact. No respondents indicated negative impacts.
- 87% of participating businesses/organizations reported that the expanded outdoor space has allowed them to hire/rehire staff. Out of the 18 businesses that indicated the specific number of staff they were able to hire/rehire, the range was 1-10 with an average of 3.6 people hired.
- 84% of respondents reported that the outdoor expansion has benefited their bottom line measurably.
- All respondents indicated that they would like to see these initiatives continue beyond the initial program period end-date of Oct. 31. Almost all respondents indicated that they anticipate needing additional accommodations (like heaters) in the winter months.
The winter guidelines for temporary outdoor expansion spaces are available here. They include requirements for use of outdoor heaters, sides for tent/shade structures, outdoor lighting and additional maintenance considerations like snow and leaf removal. The guidelines also include staff contact information for questions and a frequently asked question section. City staff has been working directly with the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association (AIR) on this rollout and will continue providing one-on-one support to businesses as-needed.
In addition, the City is providing materials to assist with temporary parklet installation and has partnered with the American Institute of Architects Asheville (AIA) to improve accessibility into these spaces. Businesses owned or managed by people of color are especially encouraged to contact City staff for assistance.
Businesses and organizations can find applications for new temporary outdoor expansion and amend current applications with winterization changes through the City’s Development Portal here.
The City will make adjustments to the programs as-needed based on public health guidance, and will continue working with businesses and organizations to respond to critical needs, while considering new initiatives for the winter and spring and possible continuation of some opportunities longer term.
More information is available at www.ashevillenc.gov/AVLSharesSpace.