This is the first in a series of profiles highlighting the City of Asheville’s vibrant and diverse neighborhoods. The City of Asheville maintains a list of neighborhoods who have registered as official organizations. Each month we will invite one of these to tell you a little more about the place they call home. If you are not sure if your neighborhood is on our listing, please contact Neighborhood Coordinator Marsha Stickford at firstname.lastname@example.org.
West End/Clingman Avenue Neighborhood, Inc. Formed, November 1998
Answers provided by the WECAN Board of Directors
What qualities make your neighborhood unique?
WECAN is one of Asheville’s oldest neighborhoods. Located at the West end of downtown, it overlooks the French Broad River. It is accessed by the interstate, state and city roads and is intersected by the railroad. WECAN is a short walk from Aston Park, Jean Webb Park and Owens-Bell Park, Isaac Dickson Elementary School, Asheville Middle School and the YWCA. It contains a significant portion of unused DOT right of way land, and is home to several National Register Historic buildings. WECAN has a logo, a neighborhood sign, and is incorporated as a tax-exempt non-profit organization. We maintain two gardens and have performed Adopt-A-Highway cleanups for 15 years.
Who are the people that make up your neighborhood?
WECAN is made up of a collection of races, ages, and incomes. We are retirees, singles, families and children. We are artists, bicyclists, urban farmers, bee keepers, pet lovers, new-comers and long time residents. We are people who care about our neighbors and where we live.
Describe some of your neighborhood’s history.
People began settling in WECAN in the 1890’s with the coming of the railroad and cotton mills. The first half of the twentieth century saw a boom in housing as the city grew. The 1916 flood, the end of rail and trolley service, the closing of the mills and major highway projects all took their toll on the neighborhood. The second half of the 20th Century saw a period of neglect until the dramatic 1995 Cotton Mill fire shone a spotlight on the area. Soon the city produced the West End/Clingman Avenue Asheville 2010 plan. One thing the plan called for was the formation of the neighborhood organization, which has met monthly since 1998. Since then, WECAN residents have been involved in many planning projects including a Citizens Master Plan. We have seen new infill development, a new park, neighborhood cleanups, some new sidewalks, new LED lighting. We produced a history exhibit, a video, an annual newsletter, public art and, in the last year, WECAN welcomed four babies.
What role does your neighborhood play as part of Asheville’s community?
We are a microcosm of the greater city. We share the same concerns as other neighborhoods, such as gentrification, traffic, taxes, crime, encroaching commercial development, affordability, communication, preservation, prostitution, density, development, homelessness, drug abuse, and infrastructure issues.
What are some of the things you look forward to in the future of your neighborhood?
The neighborhood will feel the impact of several projects in the coming years such as the New Belgium Brewery, traffic realignment on Riverside Drive, new residential development at 100 Park Avenue, mixed use development at the old Dave Steel site, a new greenway in the forest behind the east side of Clingman Avenue, the I-26 Connector and new development in the River Arts District.
Name some things that you would like to see to make your neighborhood better.
A respect for the history of the neighborhood, more affordable housing, a partnership with DOT for a community garden on unused land, a grocery store, sidewalks on Roberts street between the traffic circle and the White Duck, and more neighborhood participation.