Asheville North Carolina

From Ruin to Riches, Revitalization of our Downtown

The Challenge

Devastated by huge depression debt and the loss of businesses to a new suburban shopping center, Asheville’s downtown in the 1970's was a collection of boarded up buildings where once there had been a vibrant and thriving downtown. The turning point in the decay of downtown Asheville was a proposal to bulldoze eleven city blocks to construct a new downtown commercial center. Advocates for the preservation of Asheville’s unique historic architecture as the best asset the City could use to revive downtown and Asheville's economic vitality.

The Approach

Targeted investments from both the public and private sector supported the renovation of downtown's historic buildings, improved public perception of safety, walkability, and created active public spaces that continue to pay quality of life. Collaborative partnerships played and continue to play a key role in the City’s success. Downtown residents, the Arts Community, a thriving business community, world-class restaurants, local stores, galleries and entertainment venues have all worked together to create an environment that attracts locals and tourists alike. and  Asheville’s downtown has emerged as the City’s third tourist attraction, alongside the Biltmore House and Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Next Challenge

As downtown continues to attract new residents and an increasing tourism trade, real estate prices throughout Asheville are soaring and threatening to displace the ability for artists, local businesses, the working and middle class and the diverse population that are essential to a thriving community. Collaborations across civic, private and public organizations, an attention to our unique economic assets, increasing public participation, infill development and an attention to quality of life for all are high on the priority list as we look to the future.

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