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Inside the $6.7 million Wesley Grant Center expansion

Grant Center Illustrative Plan

42% of the project’s costs will be spent locally in WNC. | Rendering via City of Asheville

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It’s official: ground has broken on the Dr. Wesley Grant, Sr. Southside Community Center at 285 Livingston St.

The $6.7 million project, known as the “Recreation Phase,” will bring a multi-purpose gym, an outdoor basketball court, community meeting rooms, a neighborhood swimming pool, and other enhancements. Here’s what you need to know.

First, a little history on the center

The center is named after the late pastor Dr. Wesley Grant, Sr., a prominent leader + activist in Asheville during the civil rights movement. Dr. Grant served at a variety of local churches and is credited with founding the Worldwide Missionary Baptist Tabernacle Church in 1958.

In 2010, the center launched its “first phase” at the former site of the Livingston Park and the WC Reid Center (the latter of which evolved into the Arthur R. Edington Education and Career Center). Known as the “Cultural Art Phase,” the LEED-certified 7,897-sqft building included an auditorium, three classrooms, office space, storage, and parking.

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The gym will have bleachers, plus structures for basketball + volleyball. | Rendering via City of Asheville

More on those developments

In the words of Parks & Recreation Director D. Tyrell McGirt, this phase of the project aims to “deliver new spaces to connect with the outdoors and other neighbors” and to “build cultural, recreational, and community experiences that celebrate the legacy of the neighborhood.”

In addition to the gym, the outdoor basketball court, meeting rooms, and pool, enhancements will include: more parking spaces, new sidewalks, solar panels (which aim to generate upward of 60% of the building’s energy use), a rain garden, landscape improvements, and picnic areas.

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There will be lounge space, toddler play zones + changing rooms. | Rendering via City of Asheville

About that pool…

Once complete, the 3,275-sqft pool will be one of three city pools (the others being Malvern Hills + Recreation Park). The decision to add a pool to the facility came about after the City of Asheville closed the 80+ year-old, segregation-era Walton Street Pool.

The project’s timeline

Construction is expected to last about 14 months, meaning the center will likely be open by summer of 2023. We can’t wait to dip our toes in the new pool.

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