City of Asheville Launches Shared Streets and Parklet Programs

A road with a "shared street" sign.

The City of Asheville is continuing to support economic recovery by allowing businesses and organizations to use public and private properties more flexibly to align with public health guidelines.

As businesses, particularly restaurants, continue to work through capacity constraints and physical distancing guidelines, the City has launched Parklets and Shared Streets as tools to temporarily create more space for safe public and customer access.

Temporary Parklet

The Temporary Parklet program allows businesses and organizations to use one to three on-street public parking spaces adjacent to their storefronts for outdoor dining, merchandise or other safe-distancing measures. The guidelines are intended to provide businesses with a relatively quick, easy and safe way to expand into the street. Design and safety parameters are outlined in the guidelines and businesses are required to submit a concept plan showing their layout, materials and other components. Businesses and organizations can apply at the City’s Development Portal at develop.ashevillenc.gov or find the guidelines available here. Parklets will be authorized until Oct. 31 or until the City ends or alters the temporary outdoor expansion program.

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Shared Streets

The Shared Streets program converts entire blocks to “pedestrian priority” areas and enables outdoor seating, merchandise sales or other uses by businesses and organizations within the area. The first Shared Street area launched on June 19 on The Block downtown, incorporating portions of Eagle Street and South Market Street. The City worked with The Block Community Collaborative neighborhood group and individual business owners within the district on implementation.

Shared Streets will be installed this week (the week of June 23) on Banks and Buxton in South Slope and in one to three weeks on Wall Street, Church Street and portions of College Street downtown. More information about the Shared Streets program is available here.

The Parklet and Shared Shared Street programs are an addition to previous programs and opportunities launched by the City to allow businesses and organizations to use public and private spaces more flexibly. Businesses can expand onto private properties including parking lots and landscaped areas by registering here. Businesses can also expand seating or merchandise onto public sidewalks in front of their storefronts as long as 6 feet of pedestrian passageway can be maintained. Businesses can register for expansion onto public sidewalks by registering here.

The City is committed to continuing to work with the community on these initiatives through the fall (Oct. 31) and expects to make adjustments and expansions along the way. Depending on the success of the various temporary programs, longer-term implementation will be considered.

A survey and other feedback opportunities will be available this summer to hear from the public as well as business owners and employees to better understand what’s working and what needs improvement.

More information about these initiatives is available at www.ashevillenc.gov/avlsharesspace.

Prepared by City of Asheville.