Current Projects include:
The City as Classroom: The Berry Temple Community and STEAM Academy (2020-present);
The African-American Cultural & Heritage District and Trail;
& the Stephens-Lee Museum and Arts Center (2010-present)


  OVERVIEW:  The African-American Cultural Heritage District Proposal is a placemaking project that combines historic community-based cultural heritage and economic development.  The District would include and connect the historically African-American Eagle-Market Street, East End, the South Slope and Southside communities.  

     The intended result of establishing the District is to serve as a catalyst for a renaissance of African American social and business enterprise in Asheville.  The renaissance will in part, be made possible through the District itself establishing Asheville as an African-American heritage tourism destination.

     The District Proposal has its roots in East End community meetings from 2010, in which native residents asserted their desire for recognition and celebration of not only the legacy of the legendary Stephens-Lee High School, its teachers, and graduates, but also the entire African-American community. The District Proposal is aligned with City and County visions for equity, greenways, public art, and much more.  The District Proposal is aligned with Ashevivve-Buncombe Tourism Development Authority's (TDA) vision for its grants projects.  Representatives of the Proposal are actively engaged in collaborations with the City and TDA.

Details included in Buncome County Strategic Partnership Grant Application, February 2020

River Front Development Group (RFDG) is a NC Nonprofit Tax Exempt, Community Development Corporation (CDC) engaged in community services for low to moderate income residents of Buncombe County. In operation since 1996, we are involve in the development of affordable housing, nonprofit business services, the preservation of African American heritage and community assets, and education. We work to combat the negative impacts of gentrification in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, particularly African American neighborhoods adversely impacted by past and present Urban Renewal and Redevelopment programs. 


We are currently engaged a youth development and education initiative to address apparent, and systemic White-Black educational disparities ("Achievement Gap") for Middle Schoolers in City and County schools. Our Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics (STEAM) Academy's target population are minority students failing to achieve grade-level academic proficiency.


RFDG developed a tourism-economic development, and historic preservation initiative to create the Stephens-Lee (S-L) Cultural Heritage Museum and Arts Incubator, a Cultural Heritage District and Trail in the East End/Valley Street community with support from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority(TDA). In 2018 we secured a Tourism Product Development Capital Fund Grant (TPDA) of $100,000 for the adaptive-joint-use and up-fit of the Stephens-Lee Recreation Center as the Museum-Anchor Institution; the African American Heritage Trail will include 19 Wayfinding Markers and 2 interactive (cell phone access) installations that lead to the Stephens-Lee site. The markers and interactive kiosks will be fabricated, installed and maintained by TDA, at no cost to the Museum project, in perpetuity.


The architectural, engineering, arts, and technology elements; design; and installations of the Museum and Trail projects will constitute STEAM science projects for students of the Academy.



News and public and related events for these projects

History projects funding announcement:

History projects overview and timeline:

Press coverage:


Museum design charrette for Stephens-Lee High School students (alumni)

River Front Development Group

34 College Place

Asheville, NC  28801



© 2021 River Front Development Group