When you replace a 100-year old wall, you have big shoes to fill. At the September 12 dedication the new retaining wall at Cherokee Road, residents of the Albemarle neighborhood stood alongside City of Asheville personnel and project contractors to celebrate the marriage of modern structural design and historic aesthetics that went into the project.
“This is going to be here a lot longer than any of us,” said the city’s Streets and Engineering Manager Greg Shuler. “I am proud to be part of a team that is exceptional in every way.”
With the help of community input and collaboration, the replacement of the 70-foot retaining wall was identified as a priority for the city. Age, erosion and even a few impacts over the years had taken a toll on the original wall, located at the intersection of Cherokee Road and Sunset Drive. Needed stormwater upgrades were included in the project, making the intersection safer and less vulnerable to erosion.
Care was taken to preserve the historic look of the wall and its place in the surrounding neighborhood, and original stone was used as a veneer on top of modern concrete. The neighborhood, project engineers and the City of Asheville’s Historic Resources Commission worked closely together to ensure that the final product matched the character of the Albemarle neighborhood, which is listed as both a local and national historic district.
“It is wonderful to live in a city which recognizes that beauty and craftsmanship are as important as function,” said neighborhood resident and Albemarle Park-Manor Grounds Association Board Member Rich Mathews.
The construction team was on site to celebrate the opening, including project manager Brian Estes, Senior Project Engineer John Gavin, Construction Inspector Lee Morrison, and Administrative Assistant Kathi Willis. Representatives from contractor Buchanan and Sons and design consultant Michael Baker Engineering were also on the site, as was Historic Resources Commission Director Stacy Merten.
Asheville City Council member Cecil Bothwell praised the effort, pointing out the economic development impact that preserving historic aesthetics has on Asheville. As more businesses choose to relocate to Asheville for its quality of life, paying attention to and maintaining the character of the city’s neighborhoods supports economic growth.
“The city has a lot to be proud of here,” Bothwell said.
More on the Cherokee Road retaining wall project: