The future of Asheville’s parklets and shared streets

parklets-shared-streets-asheville-avltoday-overasheville
Photo by @overasheville

It’s looking like Asheville’s pandemic-inspired parklets and other outdoor expansions are here to stay, although some may take a temporary hiatus come 2022

At its Nov. 9 meeting, the City shared a presentation that peeks into the future of the AVL Shares Space initiative and reveals how residents + business owners feel about the measures. Spoiler alert: they’re widely popular.

Outdoor seating on Eagle St. was made possible by AVL Share Spaces. | Photo via AVLtoday

Plus, the City announced it will spend the next six months exploring funding options to support this transition. While the future is not entirely certain, here’s what we know about the next steps for each of these initiatives.

Parklets

While no new applications will be accepted, the 19 existing parklets will be allowed to operate through Jan. 3, 2022. In the meantime, the City plans to develop a long-term program + permitting process for future “streeteries.”

Private property expansions

 The 48 businesses which have expanded on their own private property will remain while city staff reach out to each on an individual basis to establish a path to permanency.

Sidewalk expansions

The 27 permitted businesses may continue to operate on public sidewalks through Jan. 3, 2022. Through the rest of 2022, public sidewalk use will require an encroachment agreement, permitting, and fees.

Shared streets

These designated pedestrian priority zones, currently at Wall St., The Block, and South Slope, will continue through Jan. 3, 2022. Plus, the city has a plan in progress for making Wall St. a permanent shared street space.

A parklet at Early Girl Eatery’s Wall St. location. | Photo via @earlygirleatery

How locals and businesses feel about the programs

According to a participating business survey

  • 92% reported “very positive” impacts to their business and bottom line 
  • 75% were “definitely” interested in continuing, even if fees and upgrades were required
  • Those surveyed also anecdotally reported positive impact on staff retention, morale, and sense of safety 

According to a public survey:

  • 75% reported a “very positive” experience with each core initiative
  • 87% shared they were “very supportive” of continuing parklets + shared streets longer-term
  • 60% reported the initiatives helped them feel much safer and very much encouraged accessing local goods & services

Poll