River Arts District expands north with big creative complex

By , hbenton@citizen-times.com

The River Arts District has traditionally sat just south of Interstate 240, the spirit of Asheville’s artsy epicenter crawling from beneath the graffiti-covered beams of the Jeff Bowen Bridge.

The district flows south, along the French Broad River, down Depot Street, and sprawls eastward across Clingman Avenue, pushing up against Asheville Middle School and downtown’s South Slope brewery district.

Slowly, though, the RAD has been inching farther north, up Riverside Drive and under Patton Avenue as new green-built restaurants take root and music venues replace junkyards. As more artists find success in the RAD, the more the district expands outward and upward, with once-small artists groups outgrowing their spaces, needing more room for the audiences to watch them work or learn about their craft.

Pushing its northernmost boundary yet again, a slice of River Arts will be opening at the corner of Riverside and Broadway — a huge new space for artists, brewers, performance and creativity — and they’re calling it the River Arts Makers Place, or RAMP Studios, for short.

Purchased by a four-person partnership in April 2015 for $2.2 million, the two-warehouse complex boasts more than 100,000 square feet. Its corner lot north building hosts longtime tenant Astral Designs, Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff (which opened late last year), the WNC Dance Academy and, soon, Ginger’s Revenge Craft Brewery and Tasting Room. Additional spaces are available for lease.

In its south building, a long hallway opens to artist studio after studio, anchored on one end by the new North Carolina Glass Center and, on the other, by UNC Asheville’s new STEAM lab, building an innovative bridge between art, technology and engineering.

Read more here, and click here to see a map to RAMP.

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