Located in Appalachia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, North Wilkesboro rests in Wilkes County along U.S. Route 421 between the city of Winston-Salem, an hour drive to the east, and the Cherokee National Forest, an hour drive to the west. In 1871, the town was settled as the Norfolk and Southern railroads built rail lines along the Yadkin River.* Textiles, furniture, including mirror production, became the region’s economic base. The area is also known as the birthplace of Lowe’s Home Improvement, Lowe’s Foods, and stock-car racing.
In 1996, the Health Foundation, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to improving the health and well-being of residents in Wilkes County, purchased a declining strip shopping center in North Wilkesboro that rests on 28.29 acres and converted it into a medical park. The shopping center had become a community eyesore, which The Health Foundation has sought to improve. The health complex also serves as a destination for active and passive recreation. The trailhead for the Yadkin River Greenway, a pedestrian/cycling connector between the towns of Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro is located within the West Park Medical Complex.
The Health Foundation seeks innovative ways to make the property flourish as a place of healing. They envision the West Park Medical Complex as a model landscape that expresses healthy eating and healthy living. Open space, trails, and signage would transform the parking lot and surrounding landscape into a site that encourages healthy choices and active living programs. These amenities would be available to patients, visitors, employees, and the community’s residents. The Health Foundation further envisions a place that fosters community building and exemplifies how urban landscapes can be optimally designed to be environmentally conscious, minimize pollutant run-off, and be bird friendly.
CDAC worked with a stakeholders committee and the community to develop a conceptual master plan, focus area designs, and a planting plan.
Project team: Melissa Philen, Lauren Delbridge, Alex Jones, and Aline Soares Souza de Souza