68 Haywood Street is a 1.25-acre city owned parcel in the heart of downtown with a long and complex history. The Master Concept Plan for the parcel is the result of a year long effort, working with the City, volunteer project leaders, neighboring property owners and institutions, as well as the citizens of Asheville. NBW's work is a continuation of a much longer community visioning process that began in December 2015 and has sought to balance several competing visions for what the property could become.
A significant driver for the designers and team of consultants has been the goal of Pragmatic Authenticity — balancing a robust vision for how the parcel can anchor and unlock connections between the adjacent cultural institutions, while ensuring the plan is rooted in the economic realities of a city facing the uncertain future of a post COVID financial landscape. NBW worked closely with James Lima Planning and Development, who developed a dynamic financial model to test the economic impact of the design, and for the City to utilize for the future implementation.
The Master Concept Plan is a civic-minded space that belongs to the people of Asheville - in the heart of the city, anchored in a magnificent spot in the Blue Ridge Mountains, embracing both the history of this unique site and the thriving city of today. A large central plaza is at the heart of the site, and provides a vital gathering space for special events. The geometry of the ellipse is inspired by the soaring dome in the neighboring Basilica of Saint Lawrence, designed and built in 1905 by world renowned architect Rafael Guastavino. The site sits on the former site of Stoney Hill, the natural high point of Asheville that was reduced by over 70 feet during the 1920’s to clear space for the an aspirational development plan that was stalled by the Great Depression and never fully realized. NBW's design pays homage to the rich cultural history of the site and the biological diversity of the regional ecology. It also holds space for a mixed-use development site that is intended to further activate the area and cover much of the maintenance costs of the public park.
The Asheville City Council will be voting on October 27 on whether to adopt the Master Concept Plan. Leading up to the City Council vote, the plan has been reviewed and recommended for City Council Adoption by the Planning and Zoning Commission, The Downtown Commission, and the City Planning and Economic Development Commission. Public comment period is underway, and we are thrilled to see the growing support for the project leading up to Council vote.