New visitors center in Asheville River Arts District set for construction


Construction is set to begin on a new visitors center in the River Arts District. The Asheville Arts and Culture Dispensary, as it’s called, will feature a visitor information kiosk, public parking and public bathrooms.

The Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission received a brief update about the visitors center at its meeting last week. Renovations to an historic, 1,800-square-foot building at 14 Riverside Dr. near Curve Studios will also include a streetside trolley drop-off, bicycle racks and a bike rental station or bike share station. The city is under contract with Mathews Architecture to address preconstruction issues, according to a commission handout. The project is set for construction to begin in March. The city plans to issue a request for proposals later this year seeking a private business or a nonprofit to lease space in the Arts and Culture Dispensary, with occupancy expect in October 2016.

Here’s more detail about plans for the Asheville Arts and Culture Dispensary from city documents:

Construction of critical public amenities like restrooms , safe pedestrian connections, boat ramps and visitor information kiosks that keep people in the district longer, and link and leverage the existing and the proposed tourism attractions built by the private sector. Projects include:
-Public restrooms – There will be four clean and open-for-business public toilets at the 14 Riverside Drive Arts and Culture Dispensary.

-Visitor information kiosk at 14 Riverside Drive – This will be an unstaffed, high tech place to learn about shopping, studios, galleries, events and eateries in the River Arts District, with cross referencing to the info kiosk at Craven Street.
o Visitor information kiosk at the Public Parking Lot at Craven Street Bridge- This will be an unstaffed, low tech place to learn about trails, greenways, river history and outdoor recreation, with cross referencing to the info kiosk at 14 Riverside

Construction of two new attractions: a new riverfront arts and culture venue that also supports river access and river use; and a set of train spotting venue trackside at Lyman Street that will draw visitors in with the promise of an entertaining and an educational trackside experience, all while providing protection from the elements, a place to rest for
a while, and a safe way to navigate across the tracks to the River Arts District’s other desirable attractions.

-14 Riverside Drive Arts and Culture Dispensary – When completed, this historic waterfront building will be renovated to support highly visible arts and culture programming and increase awareness of, and connection to, the French Broad
-The Train Spotting Venue – These artist built shelters on either side of the Lyman Street at-grade railroad crossing that are the perfect place to watch the trains go by and learn about the contributions of the railroad industry to the history of Asheville and Western North Carolina.


Mary Fierle January 25, 2016 - 3:09 pm

Hey Jason, Who is the architect? And shouldn’t this image have a credit?


Mary Fierle
American Institute of Architects
AIA ASheville

Bill Hunt January 22, 2016 - 8:29 am

Would there be room for a Saturday morning farmer’s market?

The Real World January 20, 2016 - 3:55 pm

The plan sounds most excellent and a very good addition to that important area of town.

Heather January 20, 2016 - 7:46 am

The bums will love the new bathrooms!

Johnny Bumsalot January 20, 2016 - 2:02 pm

Awesome contribution, Heather! Maybe, until this construction is completed, the hideous, dirty, worthless bums could come to your house and piss on your rug?

Barry Summers January 21, 2016 - 10:35 am

What if we don’t need to piss – can we still come over & watch the trains from there?

Stu Helm January 20, 2016 - 3:41 pm

That depends on how comfy the seats are, and your definition of “bums.” 😉

Big Al January 21, 2016 - 12:49 pm

I cannot recall seeing very many bums in the RAD, especially as it has gentrified.

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