Resources

Downtown Asheville is a thriving business district and the center for commerce for Western North Carolina. Here you'll find information and resources regarding both doing business in downtown and issues facing downtown.

We will update this page frequently. If you have suggestions regarding resources you'd like to see here, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Advocacy

The ADA is the voice of downtown by communicating concerns, advocating for policies, maintaining relationships with city and county officials and staff, and addressing important social issues. We are committed to the preservation and improvement of the central business district through programming, civic support and annual objectives. Representing downtown merchants, workers and residents, we advocate for practices that encourage smart growth and preserve the quality of life in downtown. 

Our membership has grown to more than 300 businesses, nonprofits, families and individuals working together to advance and sustain Downtown Asheville as a thriving business district and residential center. Members continue to identify the need for additional parking and transportation options as their #1 concern for downtown. Infrastructure improvements come in a close 2nd, with cleanliness and safety rounding out the top challenges. 

We also host the annual State of Downtown Luncheon, featuring updates on downtown issues and projects from an ADA, city and county perspective. This luncheon is typically held in late February.

Another part of our mission is to bring more people to Downtown Asheville and we do that through our events and marketing. Downtown After 5, Oktoberfest, the Asheville Holiday Parade and the Holiday Windows Contest bring thousands of people, both residents and visitors, to downtown every year.  

Downtown Management

The Asheville Downtown Association advocates for policy and smart development that will benefit downtown for business and property owners, employees and residents. 

Downtown Master Plan 
The City of Asheville is currently updating the Downtown Master Plan (originally adopted in 2009). The first phase of updates is Downtown Public Space Management, and the Asheville Downtown Association is represented on the update committee. 

A recent survey collected feedback from the public on priorities and goals for public spaces in Downtown Asheville. The committee reviewed survey results and identified focus areas. City staff are currently drafting guidelines and updates. Once completed, the Public Space Management Committee will review before sending recommendations forth to the Downtown Commission, then City Council.

View the Downtown Master Plan and learn more about the Downtown Commission, a council-appointed commission that provides City Council with recommendations on all things Downtown. The Downtown Commission carries out design review on major development projects within the downtown area. At times, the ADA’s Issues Committee weighs in on proposed development projects in the central business district.  

Downtown Issues

Parking and Transportation

Asheville Downtown Association members and other downtown business owners consistently rank parking as their top challenge for downtown. Both residents and downtown visitors frequently remark that it’s difficult to find a parking spot in the central business district. 

The Asheville Downtown Association is advocating for both additional parking in the downtown area and improved transportation infrastructure to help ease the pressure on the parking system. Turnover of parking is essential to sustainable business in our downtown and tax revenues for our community.

Important strides have recently been made with regards to parking - the Buncombe County Coxe Avenue deck opened and offers 24-hour public and monthly parking options; the City has installed smart meters allowing customers to pay via credit card; the Downtown Commission's parking crawl yielded new on-street spaces, and the City acquired a surface lot on Coxe Avenue and is offering low-cost parking options for downtown workers. Despite these positive steps, businesses still indicate that their customers struggle to find parking.

The ADA has also identified transit and transportation alternatives as closely related to the challenge of parking. Recently increased funding allowed for additional service on current routes, new busses and additional Sunday service - important steps but inadequate in addressing the identified needs of surveyed businesses.

As the City continues implementing the Transit Master Plan, we encourage staff to consider a transit option, workforce parking agreement, or park and ride service that serves downtown workers.

Downtown hosts thousands of workers every day and the viability and sustainability of businesses depends on their ability to retain workers. If our parking shortage and transit shortfalls continue to cause issues for these workers, we are concerned about the impact on downtown businesses.  

Homelessness 

Homelessness, housing shortages and housing affordability are issues increasingly faced by municipalities nationwide. ADA will continue to work with resource providers, government staff, elected officials and community leaders to identify solutions that will increase the availability of housing for workforce and homeless members of our community.  

The Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee responsible for implementing the Five Year Strategic Plan on Homelessness in Buncombe County. The conduct research, formulate and make recommendations on funding and policy, and act as a clearinghouse for information on local homeless issues.  

Homeless Resource Providers 
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Homeward Bound of Western North Carolina
Western Carolina Rescue Ministries
Beloved Asheville
ABCCM 
Walkability and Pedestrian Safety
In 2012, the Asheville Downtown Association developed a Walkability Study for Downtown Asheville. The study is performed every other year most recently in 2019. The study highlights areas in the central business district that are unsafe or difficult for pedestrians, including those with disabilities. The ADA submits both the study and the update to city staff. While many of the most significant safety issues are quickly fixed, many larger problems remain. Several sidewalks in downtown need considerable repair or complete replacement. 

Walkability is not only important in growing our residential base, but in drawing additional commerce downtown as well. Across the nation, citizens and businesses are returning to urban cores and walkability is considered the top amenity. 

 Infrastructure Funding
City of Asheville and Buncombe County governments must invest in downtown infrastructure to grow the tax base and sustain downtown’s viability. The Asheville Downtown Association believes it’s critical to prioritize infrastructure projects in the central business district. 

As the center of government and commerce, downtown sees tremendous use not only by residents of the city, county and neighboring communities of Western North Carolina, but also tourists. Also, because of its density, downtown is one of the largest contributors of city property and sales tax revenues, the main revenue stream for the city. Infrastructure improvements can attract both additional private investment as well as help to sustain downtown’s current business community. 

In 2016, voters supported a bond package for transportation, parks and recreation, and affordable housing projects. However, only ~$1 million of the $32 million in transportation funding was dedicated to downtown infrastructure, namely the Haywood Streetscape Project.  

Asheville City Council members indicate that they are proponents of small, locally owned businesses in downtown. The ADA sees improved infrastructure as a means to show this support by ensuring safe, easy access to downtown businesses.  
Cleanliness
Cleanliness is consistently identified as an issue in our downtown. Initial efforts by the downtown cleaning crew yielded improvements. Cleanliness is paramount to the brand of downtown, and if not addressed, will quickly lead to a decline in visitation, property values and tax revenues.

Asheville Downtown Association Foundation

We formed the Asheville Downtown Association Foundation to carry out the altruistic goals of the ADA.

Through the foundation, we successfully raised the funds to install a permanent canopy over the stage at Pack Square Park. Designed and fabricated locally, the canopy was officially unveiled in 2014 and gifted to the City of Asheville. 

The foundation also raised the funding for the Lexington Life Column located near 65 N. Lexington Avenue. This project was managed by the City’s Public Art & Culture Commission. The artist, Beatrice Coron, created the 15ft column celebrates the visionaries who helped make Lexington Avenue one of the “greatest streets in America” 

More recently, the ADAF received generous donations from a local charitable organization to purchase large-scale holiday decorations that are now a part of Downtown Local Lights in Pack Square and Pritchard Parks.

The most recent project funded by the ADAF is the Catawba Falls waterfall mural on the steps between Wall Street and Battery Park Avenue by local artist Ian Wilkinson.

The foundation’s main area of focus was the Spare Change for Real Change Program, but we are currently looking for other outlets for this program.