David Baker Architects is collaborating with local architect McMillan Pazdan Smith, the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville (HACA), and Mountain Housing Opportunities (MHO) to create a Master Plan for the redevelopment of Lee Walker Heights, a small community of 96 public housing units, located on 11.5 acres in Asheville, North Carolina.
Opening in 1951, Lee Walker Heights was the first public-housing development in Asheville. Though the buildings have had modest upgrades over the years, they are currently outdated compared with contemporary building standards, have relatively high maintenance costs, are not universally accessible, and are increasingly isolated from other development in Asheville due to topographic and transit constraints.
The vision for the project, developed in consultation with current residents, is to replace Asheville’s oldest public housing property with a transformational new mixed-income community, including one-for-one replacement of the 96 subsidized units to be scattered through a total of at least 200 mixed-income units. The Master Plan study area includes a neighboring parcel of 5.5 acres, which may become available for direct or coordinated development in the future. The development team is optimistic that the neighboring Biltmore Avenue property can be added to the project, allowing mixed-use development and expansion to as many as 400 units, with the deeply subsidized units ultimately dispersed throughout both parcels.
The new plan includes increased and improved connections, pedestrian and open-space upgrades throughout the property, a considerable increase in housing capacity, and a diversity of home types.