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#Asked – Racial diversity, greenways, + architecture

Asked and Answered March 29
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By this point, our loyal readers know the drill. Last month, we asked you what you wanted to know about Asheville, and we received over 100 questions.

So far, we’ve filled you in on Future I-26, the Urban Trail, and Asheville’s bedroom communities, fire departments, animal shelters + affordable housing. Catch up on week 1 + week 2.

Today, we bring you the answers to three more questions.

  1. #Asked – Is there a lack of racial diversity in Asheville?
  2. #Asked – I’d like to be kept up to date on the progress of river “greenways.” Where are they, and which trails were approved and/or funded.
  3. #Asked – Asheville has fascinating architecture. When downtown, I always look up to see the interesting tops of buildings. Why not describe the art and history of AVL buildings?

1. #Asked – Is there a lack of racial diversity in Asheville?

Total Population: 86,789 (within Asheville city limits)

  • 77.4% White
  • 12.2% Black
  • 6.02% Hispanic
  • 2.06% Asian
  • 1.74% 2+ ethnicities
  • .4% Native
  • .1% Other
  • .0069% Pacific Islander

And here’s the data on diversity in Asheville City Schools for the 2016-17 school year:

Total District Population: 4,504

  • 60.6% White
  • 22.4% Black
  • 8.4% Hispanic
  • 1.1% Asian
  • 6.9% Multi-Racial
  • .2% American Indian
  • .4% Pacific Islander

Source: Asheville City Schools Racial Equity Report Card

Curious about other cities? Compare Asheville to Charlotte, Greenville, SC, Raleigh, Winston-Salem + Durham.

2. #Asked – I’d like to be kept up to date on the progress of river “greenways.” Where are they, and which trails were approved and/or funded.

DYK: Asheville has a Greenway Committee, which meets the first Thursday of every month from 3:30–5 p.m. on the 4th floor of the Municipal Building (above the fire department downtown). Their next scheduled meeting, however, will be a field trip to Hominy Creek Greenway that will begin at the Shelburne trailhead. It’s open to the public.

Asheville has 6 existing greenways + greenway corridors, with 7 more in progress + 13 proposed.

The existing greenways (with lengths or proposed lengths when completed) are:

  • Hominy Creek Greenway | 📍26 Shelburne Rd. | 👟 1.0 miles long
  • French Broad River Greenway West I & II | 📍194 Hominy Creek Rd. | 👟 7.25 miles long
  • Glenn’s Creek Greenway | 📍Weaver Park on Merrimon Ave. | 👟 1.5 miles long
  • Reed Creek Greenway | 📍Botanical Gardens on W.T. Weaver Blvd. | 👟 2.0 miles long
  • Swannanoa River Greenway | 📍River Bend Park | 👟 7.75 miles long
  • Haw Creek Greenway | 📍East Asheville Recreation Center on Tunnel Rd. | 👟 .75 miles
  • Check out the interactive greenways map here.

In the works:

  • The Swannanoa River Greenway will be the next expansion. The expanded section will begin near Biltmore Village and end at Azalea Park.
  • The RADTIP Project in the River Arts District, which includes improvements in the area like flood mitigation, is currently underway. It will include a 2.2-mile section of the French Broad River East Bank corridor. A phase of greenway grading was completed in February.
  • The 10.25-mile River to Ridge Greenway + Trail Network, connecting, continuous greenways that would circle the downtown area. Sections of the greenways would skirt the French Broad River and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • The 2013 Greenways Master Plan lays out goals for Asheville’s greenway system.

Pending funding: Several projects are “shovel ready” but pending funding, including work on the French Broad River Greenway West that would feature indigenous plant gardens, the Town Branch Greenway, which would include information on the destruction of the historically African-American Southside community + the Beaucatcher Greenway, which will end at the top of Beaucatcher Mountain.

The I-26 Connector Project will affect some of the greenways, but a greenway path has also been proposed on the section from Haywood Rd. to Bowen Bridge.

3. #Asked: Asheville has fascinating architecture. When downtown, I always look up to see the interesting tops of buildings. Why not describe the art and history of AVL buildings?

We’re planning to feature a lot of Asheville’s beautiful, historic architecture, and we’re starting with City Hall (📍70 Court Plaza), which just had its 90th birthday last week.

Designed by architect Douglas D. Ellington (who also designed several other Asheville landmarks, like the First Baptist Church + the S&W Cafeteria), eight-story City Hall is a prime example of Art Deco architecture. It was completed + dedicated in March of 1928.

Outside, the building’s aesthetic is meant to reflect the mountain landscape. Its construction materials (which include marble, brick, and terra cotta) and pink color reference the area’s clay-rich soil.

The eight-sided dome that tops the building alternates between rows of pink terra cotta and bands of green and gold marble carved with feathers, a recurring motif in the building meant to refer to American Indian history.

Inside, the City Council Chamber is painted with murals by Clifford Addams, a New York artist. The murals depict the history of indigenous people and white settlers in the area. The building also still has its original, manually-operated elevators, which are scheduled for an update.

Currently, an architect is designing the revamped elevators, and the plan is to keep or reuse original features whenever possible. Two of the three elevators will be completely redone + the third will be preserved in its original state for historical purposes. Construction is scheduled to begin next March.

City Hall was intended to be part of a joint City-County plaza with buildings in similar styles. However, the courthouse, designed by the Washington, D.C.-based architectural firm Milburn and Heister, ended up looking very different.

Asheville’s previous municipal building, which also contained a fire station, police station + market, was occupied until 1892 and was condemned and razed in 1926.

For information on City Hall’s hours, contact info, and a list of city offices in the building click here.

Want to add a question to our #Asked list?? Email We’re live-updating the it with links to the answers, so you can keep up with what we investigate.

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