Chimney rock groundbreaking

Chimney Rock Village Starts Phase 2 of Downtown Improvements

Chimney Rock Village sits in Hickory Nut Gorge, a 14-mile-long canyon, alongside the Rocky Broad River. The road into Chimney Rock was completed in 1916, and businesses took shape shortly after since the area’s natural beauty brought so many tourists. Chimney Rock Village is historical, and the downtown feels idyllic. Many of the buildings in the downtown were built sometime between the 1920s and 1950s, and as the community seeks to improve parts of the Village, they want to keep this history intact. Throughout the past few years, McGill has been working on streetscape and stormwater improvements that keep the charm of Chimney Rock intact while also making it more accessible.

Phase 1 of the project started in January 2021 and resulted in a new Riverwalk Plaza on Main Street, which provides a new public gathering space and easier access to the Riverwalk. Phase 2 of the project kicked off with the groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.


The changes are exciting for the community and for the McGill team members who are working on the project. J Meliski, a senior project manager at McGill, says the changes make the Village more user friendly without changing what the Village is and has always been. Meliski stated, “the overall intent of our design and the end result is to improve pedestrian safety and flow and accessibility.” Tourism is an important part of the Chimney Rock Village economy, and these improvements are helping a historic downtown maintain tourism for years to come.

Chimney rock mayor, peter o'leary
Chimney Rock Mayor, Peter O’Leary

The main upgrades include removing an unsafe crosswalk, adding streetlamps in necessary places, planting trees, and improving the stormwater management system to help keep excessive runoff out of the downtown. Peter O’Leary, Mayor of Chimney Rock Village, is excited for the renovations to continue and is thankful for the agencies who are sponsoring the work. He said, “this project is due to the successful collaboration among various sponsoring agencies, including the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Foothills Regional Commission, and the Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority.”

Overall, the streetscape improvements are supporting a larger goal of Rutherford County — making it a better place to work, play, and live. You can read more about the County’s plan in its tourism master plan, and you can read articles or watch videos about the work on the Rutherford Bound website.


McGill’s land planning and recreation team plays a big part in our streetscape projects, and they help shape communities by improving streetscapes, parks and recreation systems, and more. You can find out more about our land planning and recreation team here and some other streetscape projects here.

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