Haywood Road Vision Plan Draft – July 2012

The Haywood Road Vision Plan Draft as of July 2012, can be fully downloaded in PDF format as well as the introduction and background sections that follow below.

Haywood Road Vision Plan (draft)
7/10/2012

INTRODUCTION

For the past decade Haywood Road has seen an upsurge in investment and renovation of many of the historic buildings along with new business startups by local residents. During this period west Asheville has also enjoyed an influx of younger families drawn by the high quality of life, a large stock of well-built and affordable housing and convenient access to city-wide services with plenty of options to live, work and play close to home. In response to this resurgence of west Asheville, local residents, business owners and City staff began meeting to discuss the successes of Haywood Road and also opportunities for improvement. At these meetings people naturally made a comparison between west Asheville and downtown Asheville with its successful growth in vitality, new businesses and in places, renovated streetscapes. Meeting attendees began to discuss the potential for streetscape and pedestrian improvements along Haywood Road to strengthen the positive changes being experienced in the neighborhood. In addition to these things the existing zoning along the corridor was studied to see if it is in-line with the expectations for future development and vitality.

Due to an increase in development review functions and other priorities such as the Downtown Master Plan and the Merrimon Avenue Zoning Study, staff time was diverted away from completing the Haywood Road discussions in the mid-2000s. After the Downtown Master Plan was adopted in 2009 and the subsequent changes to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) were completed, planning for Haywood Road began again in earnest. The zoning in place for downtown Asheville is the Central Business District (CBD) zone and that designation is shared in two areas of west Asheville covering about 60 parcels and totaling 18 acres. The Downtown Master Plan indirectly required that a distinction be made between the downtown CBD locations and two smaller west Asheville CBD areas. The scale of new construction in the downtown area should be larger than in west Asheville but this difference was not reflected in the existing zoning. In 2010 staff began to meet again with the Haywood Road study group to discuss appropriate height and other development potential for the CBD areas in west Asheville. Eventually changes to the CBD zoning regulations were adopted in 2010 by City Council and this reenergized the discussion for the remainder of the corridor and for developing a more complete Vision Plan for Haywood Road.

West Asheville has always been an important area for small locally-owned businesses and contains strong neighborhoods that foster an active lifestyle because of their compactness. As was noted before, west Asheville has become a neighborhood of choice for many young people who are putting down roots in the community. According to the 2010 census data the median age is 34 for the 4 census tracts that make up the areas around Haywood Road compared to the median age of 38 for the City as a whole. Over time these new residents have started new businesses and restaurants primarily serving the local community. Artists have come to west Asheville from other parts of the city such as downtown to open studio space where the rent is more affordable. Many long term businesses have remained strong too and have found new customers for their services which include barber shops, retail stores and other neighborhood services.

The Vision Plan has focused on several subject areas that were identified through a series of community meetings held several years ago and reaffirmed in more recent planning sessions. Each subject received comment, research and where appropriate was included in the development preference survey conducted in 2011. Each one of these subject areas will be a separate section in the Vision Plan and will have a list of action and implementation items for follow up:

Streetscape and Transportation Issues
Zoning and Land Use and Community Character
Economic Development Issues
Historic Preservation
Safety
Neighborhood Related Issues

Special Statement: Sustainability as a guiding principle of the Vision Plan

Sustainability is a growing national trend that the City of Asheville has highlighted through a number of adopted plans and goals. This interest is mirrored in west Asheville through the attitudes and actions of residents in support of plans such as the Pedestrian Thoroughfare Plan (year adopted), the Bicycle Plan (year adopted), the Sustainability Plan (year adopted), the Parks and Greenways Plan (year adopted), Transportation Plan (adopted) among many others. The sustainability goals adopted city-wide by the City Council have struck a particular chord in west Asheville. Time and again participants in community meetings have stated that a core community value going forward is sustainability and this goal should inform and direct all decisions being made for the corridor now and in the future. Sustainability is often defined as managing and developing resources that meet the needs of the current population without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. A key principle of sustainability is that the status quo is changing from an energy and economic standpoint and that communities need to respond to the way development and consumerism is carried out by treating resources as finite and in need of conservation. Sustainability means many things depending on the particular topic. For example sustainability from the perspective of energy consumption means incorporating renewable energy sources and energy conservation as main-stream concepts. Sustainability from a land use and transportation approach means allowing for compact growth and greater residential density in corridor areas that includes a variety of residential units (condominiums, townhomes, apartments for example). This is related to planning for the transportation needs and energy consumption by the community. Compact development patterns have been the subject of a recent study that looked at household energy use based on home type, distance to destinations, green building practices and transit oriented development. This national study shows that housing located close to corridors that offered a variety of transportations options and projects that are multi-family or attached homes use the least amount of energy on a yearly basis as compared to suburban style single family counterparts. Compact development supports greater transportation options such as public transportation, biking and of course walking. Sustainability also has a natural overlap with environmental issues too. It can mean thinking of complete natural systems in a multi-dimensional way even in developed areas so that natural systems can not only be maintained but enhanced. This may include mimicking natural systems for water infiltration and pollution removal for storm water running through parking lots or planting trees and shrubs that provide habitat for animals or food for people. Sustainability can also be part of the City’s day to day operations such as street light conversions from traditional lighting sources to LED lighting to save energy and expansion of the residential recycling program. West Asheville has the opportunity to be a neighborhood leader for sustainability in the city since the area is compact and meets many of the definitions of sustainability. Community Investment will be needed over time for things like streetscape improvements, multi-modal transportation facilities, and additional greenspace. It is with this overall goal, sustainability that discussions for each of the plan’s subject headings were carried out.

PROJECT BACKGROUND

The Haywood Road Vision Plan focuses on the 2.5 mile section of roadway beginning at the French Broad River and winding its way through West Asheville containing a variety of neighborhoods and commercial areas to its intersection with Patton Avenue. West Asheville was originally its own town that was chartered in the 1890’s and soon after was dissolved and then re-chartered again in 1913. In 1917 the citizens voted to join the City of Asheville. Haywood Road includes parts of two historic trading routes; one was a dirt road trading-path that served points west after crossing the French Broad River at the old Smith Bridge (now the Craven Street Bridge) and followed the route of Westwood Place after climbing a number of switchbacks that were needed to traverse the steep terrain. Later Haywood Road followed a new alignment over what is now Waynesville Avenue which was an improvement over the steep grades of the original route. About 1920, Haywood was again aligned with a newer bridge near the location of today’s Riverlink Bridge when it connected to the first street car line that ran between Pack Square and the 600 block of Haywood Road. The street car line needed a straight evenly graded roadway so that the street cars could make the climb to Beecham’s Curve; from there it followed a new street section called Asheville Avenue until it met up with the older section of Haywood Road at Waynesville Avenue. Haywood Road has served as the main commercial street for the community starting with the trading route days, during the time the Town of West Asheville was incorporated and later as new residential neighborhoods were developed along the roadway. There are a number of good reference sources covering the history of west Asheville and the healthful Sulphur Springs and the first inn built around it (in the 1860’s). Sulphur Springs became one of the early destinations that made Asheville a tourist stop and encouraged the nascent tourism industry that has expanded with time to be one of the important economic engines of the entire community. Haywood Road has a broad range of early 20th century commercial structures that served the community needs such as banking, churches, a post office (two locations) and retail shopping and services. These historic structures are a part of the character that inspires many residents and has anchored so much reinvestment in the community. The residential neighborhoods surrounding Haywood Road have their own strong character defined by a large number of simple but classic bungalow houses. Since about 2000 new infill houses have been built on vacant or subdivided residential property. New construction for commercial buildings has been limited on Haywood Road except for a large number of existing commercial properties that have been renovated for new uses. This trend of residential infill and renovation and new construction of commercial buildings is expected to resume and expand as development interest picks up again and the economy strengthens in the coming years. The form and scale of new development and other issues surrounding the Haywood Road Corridor have been researched to develop the Vision Plan.


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