City of Asheville
Haywood Streetscape Improvements
Haywood Street is a vibrant corridor in downtown Asheville that is bustling with storefronts, businesses, residents, pedestrians, vehicles, bike traffic, buskers, and visitors. The City of Asheville, along with various community boards and associations prioritized Haywood Street as a major safety issue. What started as a maintenance project turned into a renovation of the entire street corridor, from Vanderbilt Place to College Street. McGill partnered with the City of Asheville to provide surveying, site design, and construction administration for the project.
The aging sidewalk, along with water and sanitary sewer piping needed to be replaced as well as extending stormwater infrastructure for future development. The existing bluestone sidewalk was at the end of its useful life cycle and was hazardous for pedestrians. The goals established in the beginning of the project included, needed sidewalk rehabilitation, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements, street resurfacing, stormwater improvements, sanitary sewer improvements, water line improvements, and added site amenities.
Multiple agency coordination was critical from the beginning to engage citizens, minimize the impact to businesses during construction, and maximize cost-sharing. McGill collaborated with the City of Asheville Water Services, Metropolitan Sewage District of Buncombe County, Asheville Downtown Association, along with leaders from the City of Asheville overseeing project coordination.
McGill began the design process in late 2018. Initial efforts included meeting with focus groups and conducting surveys. This allowed citizens, businesses, and property owners the opportunity to provide input on the design. The City of Asheville established a website to communicate goals of the project and provide frequent status updates. Utilizing feedback from public meetings and input from City staff, McGill provided complete site mapping of approximately 1,600 LF along Haywood Street.
The existing footprint of Haywood Street was modified to create additional pedestrian areas. These areas provide additional seating and space for people to spread out on what was previously a congested narrow sidewalk. Additional parts of the project included extending the existing stormwater system, modifying existing grades along Haywood Street, and providing ADA compliance where feasible. The walking surface was replaced with a maintenance friendly concrete sidewalk with a brick accent band that matches adjacent streets, completing a cohesive look for the area. Street trees were replaced to accent the new design layout and existing trees were saved were possible.
Construction phasing was a critical component of project success. Both McGill and City staff followed up with tenants and property owners to inform and provide updates on the construction timeline. Project construction began in January 2020 and was completed ten months – in time for holiday shoppers. This six-phased approach limited full street closures, completed sidewalk reconstruction in sections, and access to business and residential entryways were maintained.
Haywood Street has a brand-new look with wider and safer sidewalks for pedestrians and will provide a safer and enjoyable space for citizens and visitors for decades to come. Design enhancements included additional landscaping, new light poles, street furniture, and decorative features including pavers at the Battery Park intersection, brick accents along the sidewalk, granite curbs, and a brick plaza area outside of the library. A popular forged-metal presentation, “Shopping Daze,” a part of The Urban Trail Station, was relocated and has improved visibility.
Haywood Street is a very civic area with a lot of opportunity, we considered the street almost like a sacred space with deep roots in downtown’s history. Our team felt a responsibility to honor that history.
“The Haywood Street project is a prominent streetscape project for the City of Asheville with much historical significance,” said Mike Norris, PLA, Director of Land Planning and Recreation at McGill. “This project is providing a safer sidewalk for the businesses, visitors, and residents, and a more pleasant pedestrian experience overall.”