RiverLink Selling Historic RAD Property

You’ve probably heard that RiverLink is in the midst of selling several properties in the River Arts District. We are committed to transparency throughout this process, and want to share some history and background information with you, as well as state our support of the mixed-use development planned on the site of the Historic Cotton Mill property.

The Historic Cotton Mill at 159 Riverside Drive and its adjacent property at 144 Riverside Drive are an important part of RiverLink’s story, and the broader narrative of riverfront revitalization along the French Broad River. Built in the late 1800’s, the Asheville Cotton Mill (formerly the C.E. Graham Manufacturing Company) supplied cotton products to Levi Strauss and made uniforms for soldiers fighting in WWI and WWII. In the mid 1990’s, after many years of neglect, the Historic Cotton Mill was acquired by the Preservation Society of Buncombe County, with the goal of renovating the space into artist studios. In 1995 a fire all but destroyed the building, and RiverLink took over ownership of the property. For the past 25 years RiverLink has been waiting for the right opportunity to sell to an environmentally-minded developer who will honor the integrity of the riverfront as outlined in the Wilma Dykeman Riverway Plan, and promote opportunities for the Asheville community to engage with the river.

RiverLink is now under contract with Brennan Smith of BRN Development to sell the properties at 144 and 159 Riverside Drive. Click here to review the proposed building design. The sale of the Historic Cotton Mill for a mixed use development has always been part of RiverLink’s vision for this section of the Asheville riverfront. This vision was so important that the property’s brownfields agreement was specifically drafted to allow for a mix of business and residential uses.

We recognize that development in the floodplain is expensive and challenging. There are a number of green features being proposed for the building that are consistent with RiverLink’s mission and that we feel will help protect water quality in the French Broad. These include a proposed green roof over a portion of the building, solar panels, rain water harvesting and reuse, permeable pavement for parking, and an underground stormwater collection tank that will treat and release runoff before it enters the French Broad River. The space across the street at 144 Riverside Drive will likely provide parking for tenants, and will maintain existing elements of the open greenspace that are consistent with current zoning requirements

The designs are still in the preliminary stage, and the buyer welcomes public feedback. To learn more and share your comments please visit www.159riversidedr.com. There are also a number of steps the buyer needs to take before the proposed design goes before the Asheville City Council. We will provide updates and public meeting reminders on our website, on social media and in our monthly newsletter.

Proceeds from the sale will help RiverLink continue to invest in the health of the French Broad River Watershed and will help support our Water Quality, Environmental Education and Land Conservation programs, as well as the Karen Cragnolin Park and Woodfin Greenway & Blueway projects. Monies from the sale will also help address some of the water pollution issues detailed in the Central Asheville Watershed Restoration Plan, as well as allow us to take on more conservation easements near the river.

If you would like to share your feedback or have any questions that relate to RiverLink please feel free to reach out to Executive Director Garrett Artz at garrett@riverlink.org.