It's Complete! The Corner of Hilliard and S. French Broad has a New Look

Submitted by Elisabeth on Mon, 01/29/2024 - 5:28pm
Ribbon Cutting

We are thrilled to share that the retaining wall on the corner of Hilliard and South French Broad is COMPLETE! 

It was almost one full year ago when we announced the start of the construction process. For those who had not seen the wall up close, and were not familiar with its condition, it is no exaggeration to say that it was one heavy rain away from shearing off and crumbling into the road below.

We are forever grateful that this did not happen, and that with the help of some incredibly talented and generous people, we were able to not only replace the wall but we were able to do it in a way that improved pedestrian safety on that corner. 

More Than A Repair Job



Yes, our wall needed serious repair. That was clear. However, we recognized that the need for repairs also served as an opportunity to address another issue the wall posed:

  • By pushing the wall back on the Hilliard side of the street we gained valuable space for pedestrians who previously had to walk in a lane of traffic while traversing that corner,
  • by expanding the landing at the corner and creating a set of stairs to our building, we are extending a warm welcome to our community that the previous wall lacked, 
  • and by creating a green space and a dedicated "parking pad" for food trucks at the front of the building we are creating space for our community and partners to gather and connect


Other Work Underway at 50 S. French Broad Ave.

Unrelated to the wall, we are excited to share that soon work on our roof will be completed and the new solar panels will begin to save us money and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. And in a year or so we will begin the installation of a long overdue retrofit for our historic building - an elevator that will improve accessibility for tenants and neighbors alike.  

All of this work fits in with a broader plan to revise the look and use of our building so that it can further live up to its promise and potential as an affordable, high-quality headquarters for nonprofits to work and collaborate. Of course, we’ll involve our tenants and community in the design process and will share more about that as plans develop and opportunities for input are created.

A Project That Took A Village

This project would not have been possible without the support of our Board and Facilities Committee members who were crucial in helping us to weigh our options and make critical choices throughout the process.

We want to especially call out the hard work of long-time United Way champion, John Legerton of Legerton Architecture who helped us navigate this incredibly complex project and brought in key technical support from: 

Each of these people DONATED their time and services to this project and we can’t thank them enough for their leadership and expertise. 

We also want to thank our contractors including structural engineer, Jeff Wale of Gentry Geotechnical Engineering, and the team from Kestrel Construction who were hard at work, first demolishing and then rebuilding this wall. We appreciate the whole team and thank Bill Rabbino and Hart who were not only a pleasure to work with, but also donated thousands of dollars worth of their time and expertise.




A project that is twice as complicated, takes twice as long to finish, which means it was twice as expensive. So it is with immense gratitude that we celebrate key funders who understood the gravity of the situation we faced and stepped up to help us cover the costs:

  • Cannon Foundation
  • Mickey and Kay Goodman
  • David and Dianne Worley
  • Joe Lordi and the folks at Southern Concrete
  • John Teeter