An interesting part of infill building is relating to the site in terms of its history. In this last Asheville lot we were in the Chicken Hill neighborhood bordering the River Arts District. It is bordered by the Interstate 240 Jeff Bowen Bridge , the French Broad River and the train tracks that follow the river, and the Hill to the East toward downtown. The first connection to the site was getting oriented to true south for solar access possibilities and the locations for getting supplies over the course of building a house. This site was convenient to all the building material necessities and had the added perk of being close to a good coffee shop and restaurants and Bar. Over the 7 months that we were part of the Chicken Hill neighborhood on a daily basis we became regulars and enjoyed the familiarity that inspires. The site also sits across the river from the site of the soon to be New Belgium Brewery (http://bit.ly/1iq0afy) which has had a huge impact even before building has begun, mostly an excitement with a side of angst. It is on the site of the old stockyard with plans that include extensive green space as well as jobs and an economic boost. Some of the boost will likely be a mixed blessing for some of the old residents used to lower costs for both housing and studio space.
Our neighbor grew up in Chicken Hill and told us some about its previous influx by people who came to work in the Cotton Mill and the Hatchery. There is an exceptional website that she told us about that covers the history and current trends at http://www.chickenhillnc.com/gallery.htm . There are some great photos from early 1900’s. In the one below our site is just above the Jesus Saves church on the left where a previous house sat. There was nothing but a flat lot when we bought it though excavation brought up some brick and old pipe.
The Chicken Hill neighborhood sits between Downtown Asheville and West Asheville and between the time of factories on the river and Breweries to come. Riverlink ( http://riverlink.org/) has been working since 1987 to promote the French Broad both economically and environmentally. The area is developing as a mixed use area that is a hopeful example of smart growth that has housing, employment and entertainment within walking and biking distance as well as the ART, bus service( http://bit.ly/QUfXao ). The walk score for this house is 68 http://bit.ly/1hGKTW4 . The link has a good map to describe the walkable attributes of the neighborhood. That score is part of the GreenBuiltNC certification.
It is an exciting place to be connected to and I look forward to seeing the progress. I do hope it includes the quiet zone upgrade to eliminate those train whistles.
“Chicken Hill offers our growing city of Asheville a unique opportunity to embrace its rich history and move into a progressive healthy future, “Toward an Architecture of Community*.” *For more information on New Urbanism, see The New Urbanism by Peter Katz and The Geography of Nowhere by James Howard Kuntsler.” http://www.chickenhillnc.com/about.htm