Historic structure in River Arts District to become community resource

A bricked-up building on Riverside Drive will find new life as a City of Asheville event space. The structure at 14 Riverside Drive, just across from Curve Studios, once served as a shop/office/storage facility for the Asheville Gas Company. It’s a contributing historic structure in the River Arts District.

Gifted to the City of Asheville, transformation will begin in October. At the end of six months, the building will provide public restrooms and serve as something of a freestanding tourist kiosk. Local artists may craft or create works for onlookers in the space. A deck surrounding the building will give locals and tourists alike a place to pause and consider where next to explore.

Money to pay for the project came from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, as part of a suite of projects that included the French Broad River Greenway Trailhead and the Town Branch Greenway, according to Asheville Riverfront Office Director Stephanie Monson Dahl.

“This building that was gifted to the City will be turned into a beautiful building with public access, as a resource for the community,” Dahl said.

Project manager Shane Elliot of Mathews Architecture said work should begin most any day. The construction contract has been awarded to Carolina Cornerstone and final permitting is nearing completion. “They’re already down there removing weeds, getting prepped,” Elliot said.

Breathing life into the literally bricked-up building will include historic replacement windows. Elliot brightens at this detail. “The windows are going to look as much like the old ones as possible,” he said.

The project will incorporate selective demolition and renovation of the 1,745-square-foot historic structure with the addition of a 1,300-square-foot deck that will wrap around the north and west sides. A gravel parking lot will be installed on the .32-acre site. A ramp from the parking area will make the building handicapped accessible.

So when you are driving by and happen to see workers buzzing around the structure this fall and winter, think of spring and how 2017 will see this historic structure reclaimed and reimagined as a community building.

For more information on projects in Asheville’s River Arts District, visit ashevillenc.gov/River.