River Arts District charrettes for form-based code project begin

Charrette: A meeting in which a group of people in a project work to brainstorm and map solutions.

It can also refer to any collaborative session in which a group of people drafts a solution to an urban design issue.

Charrettes take place in many disciplines, including community development, land use and urban planning. It is often employed as technique for consulting with as many community stakeholders as possible, from residents to business owners.

Charrettes are often multi-day meetings during which community stakeholders brainstorm with City planners to map out various alternatives to community improvements.

And a series of charrettes July 25-29 is the next step going forward in the River Arts District form-based code project. All members of the public are invited to participate in these meetings. They are open to the public.

The City of Asheville is partnering with the RAD community and the Code Studio consultant group to form consensus on a go-forward plan using a form-based code structure. Simply put, a form-based code provides a way of regulating growth and development to promote a specific form, such as a mixed-use walkable community. Building heights, setbacks, in-fill development that’s in character with the community are components of form-based code planning.

City planners held a RAD form-based code kickoff meeting June 17 during which Lee Einsweiler of Code Studio gave a presentation on how form-based code has been used to transform neighborhoods in transition. It can be used to enhance an area that began as an industrial zone and has evolved into an arts district or a once-vibrant neighborhood now seeing a resurgence with people moving back in, fixing up unused storefronts, converting spaces into shops, restaurants, banks and barber shops. The idea is to instill cohesiveness in a community experiencing a resurgence by guiding a form of future spaces and buildings.

The June kickoff meeting was only a first step in a months-long process. City staff urges everyone interested in this neighborhood to mark July 25-29 on their calendars. That’s when the consultant and the City will hold a series of workshops, informational meetings and charrettes to gather and share ideas on ways to enhance the River Arts District. All events are open to the public.

“We’re interested in your feedback, especially during the charrette week when the whole team is here,” Einsweiler of Code Studio said during the June 17 presentation.

RAD form logo

Charrettes schedule

Hands-On Design Workshop, July 25, 9 am – 12:30 pm, 372 Depot St.

Join us for a presentation about the River Arts District, the public input process and the development of the form-based code. After the presentation, break into small groups and draw your vision for RAD, highlighting problems and identifying opportunities. Ideas from each group will then be reported back to participants.

Open Design Studio, July 26 – July 28, 372 Depot St.

The design studio will be open to the public for most of the charrette, so stop in and see what the team is up to, share your ideas and check out the process. This is a great opportunity to provide input as plans are evolving. Times: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. July 26; 1-5 p.m. July 27; and 1-7 p.m. July 28.

Lunch and Learn, July 27 and July 28, noon to 1 p.m., 372 Depot St.

Bring your lunch and watch a presentation on a specific aspect of the project. The presentations will focus on market dynamics on July 27 and the art and artists in the district on July 28.

Drop-In Open House, July 27, 6 to 8 p.m., 372 Depot St.

Stop by the open house to see work so far, ask questions and offer ideas. The event is informal, so come by whenever you can and comment on the progress.

Work-In-Progress Presentation, July 29, 6 – 8 p.m., Hall Fletcher Elementary, 60 Ridgelawn Road.

Attend the work-in-progress presentation to see a summary of the charrette week, view progress so far and learn about next steps. After the presentation, check out drawings from the week that will be hung around the room.


Get involved

We urge RAD residents and stakeholders to stay involved in this process. We hope to see you during the charrette week. In the meantime, if you have questions, contact City Planner Sasha Vrtunski at svrtunski@ashevillenc.gov or 828-259-5560.

The City of Asheville adopted a form-based code for the Haywood Road corridor in 2014. The timeline for adoption of a form-based code for the River Arts District is expected in spring of 2016. After the charrettes, City planners and Code Studio consultants will take the community feedback and work with it in forming the code. Ultimately, City Council will vote to adopt the code.


Learn more

Several websites and a Facebook page offer resources to residents who want to stay involved in the process and learn more about it.

Visit the City of Asheville River Arts District form-Based Code Project Page.

Follow the RAD form-based code Facebook page.

Check out the Code Studio RAD page.