LEXINGTON AVENUE IN DOWNTOWN ASHEVILLE, NC NAMED ONE OF GREAT PLACES IN AMERICA

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BY
MOUNTAIN XPRESS
KAT MCREYNOLDS

The American Planning Association (APA) today named Lexington Avenue in Asheville, North Carolina, as one of five Great Streets on the organization’s annual Great Places in America list.

As part of National Community Planning Month, APA’s Great Places in America program recognizes streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces in the United States demonstrating exceptional character, quality, and planning—attributes that enrich communities, facilitate economic growth, and inspire others around the country. The Great Neighborhoods, Great Streets, and Great Public Spaces of 2015 are places that are unique and exemplary in their amenities and infrastructure, cultural identity, and use of sustainable and innovative practices.

“This year’s list highlights the power of a single well planned street to stimulate economic activity and energize an entire community,” said Carol Rhea, FAICP, president of APA. “We applaud those who have worked hard through careful planning, public engagement, and innovation to build better places to live, work, play, and visit—one street at a time.”

Since launching the Great Places of American program in 2007, APA has recognized 245 neighborhoods, streets, and public spaces around the country. Places are selected annually and represent the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for the future.

Great Places Of America: Lexington Avenue

“Lexington Avenue, the creative epicenter of Asheville, North Carolina, features a diverse mix of more than 200 small shops and businesses—including two modern-day speakeasies and a variety of independent stores and restaurants—and a pedestrian-centered atmosphere with brick sidewalks and a heavy tree canopy. Once a neglected stretch of buildings proposed for redevelopment into a mall, Lexington Avenue instead became an economically thriving thoroughfare as a lively music and arts scene emerged, drawing visitors and tourism profits to the area and giving the street an eclectic, unique character. Recent city planning has emphasized and incentivized adaptive reuse and infill development, further increasing density and activity on Lexington Avenue. The annual Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival and the Downtown After 5 Summer Music Series, along with the abundance of cultural and commercial destinations filling the street, play a crucial role in energizing and maintaining Asheville’s economy.”

In addition to Lexington Avenue, APA also recognized these four streets this year:

Laura Street (Jacksonville, Florida)

Fifth Street (Dayton, Ohio)

Third Street (McMinnville, Oregon)

Olvera Street (Los Angeles, California)

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