First funds of the $3-million Mellon Foundation Grant Invested into Boosting the Block Project

panoramic image of buildings on the block

On May 28, Asheville City Council authorized $180,000 to fund a contract for community facilitation, engagement, and project support services for the “Boosting the Block” Project, one of three projects funded by the Mellon Foundation to implement components of the Pack Square Plaza Vision Plan. The Block is Asheville’s historic Black business district and multicultural hub that also serves as a geographic and cultural connection between downtown and the East End Valley Street Neighborhood.


The Boosting the Block project will include:

  • The construction of a physical gateway and cultural corridor between Pack Square and The Block

  • Increased capacity of neighborhood anchors to shape and influence the future of The Block

  • Enhanced public spaces and programming that authentically narrate the past, present, and future of The Block

  • Consensus and implementation of neighborhood identity and marketing for The Block 


Happening Now:

The Community Facilitator will lead engagement and support all aspects of project management including schedule, planning, design, and implementation throughout the project. The selected team is a collaborative partnership between Illumined Leadership Solutions and BennettWeston Consulting, both Black-owned, Durham-based firms. They were selected based on qualifications and their approach to the project through a competitive RFP process and selection committee composed of City staff, County staff, and community representatives. 

Additional contracting opportunities that are supported through this project includes a local community coordinator, creative strategist/consulting artist, marketing/promotion/advertising and production of a community celebration. These are in addition to the anticipated design/engineering contract and construction contracts. 



Boosting the Block is one of three projects funded by the Mellon Foundation’s Monuments Project Initiative that will advance elements of the Pack Square Plaza Vision Plan. The Vision Plan was adopted by City Council on September 26, 2023, following a planning and community engagement process led by the McAdams Company and City and County staff.


In addition to the Boosting the Block project, grant funding will be used for:

  •  design and engineering for reshaping Pack Square

  •  supporting a partnership with the Buncombe County Library to expand programming and education around more inclusive storytelling and history efforts in our community. 


Learn more about the project on the City’s website.