Two more Asheville hotel projects are headed to Asheville City Council for review after the Asheville Planning & Zoning Commission gave its approval of them Wednesday night.

City Council has the final say over the proposals. Last month, council members made it clear that any new hotel projects would face serious scrutiny in light of an ongoing hotel boom that’s added hundreds of new rooms for rent. Councilwoman Julie Mayfield, delivering her update on council actions to the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority last week, said “I don’t see a majority on council to approve any more hotels,” especially ones proposed for the central business district.

But there are still several hotel projects in the pipeline.

The Planning & Zoning Commission, which reviews the technical merits of projects, first looked at a project dubbed the “RB hotel.” It’s a six-story, 170-room independent hotel by Rockbridge, an Ohio-based company that has connections with Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood brands. The location is 62 Fairview Road, the site of a marble/granite business adjacent to Davis Home Furniture and just up Fairview Road from Sweeten Creek Road. The project also includes a separate, 120-seat, two-story restaurant that would be built closest to the property’s Fairview Road frontage.

Chris Day of Civil Design Concepts, representing the developer, addressed several issues. Day noted that the site sits in a floodway, and will have to be raised about four feet with fill dirt. The site is also a brownfield, so the fill dirt will be placed on a brownfield cap, he said. A traffic study found no significant impacts on key surrounding intersections, Day added.

Two people spoke during the public comment portion of the discussion. A woman who identified herself as an Oakley neighborhood resident said she was “very much in favor of this project,” but noted that Fairview Road was narrow, curvy and dangerous. And Karl Koon, a member of the Planning & Zoning Commission who recused himself from voting on the project because he owns property adjacent to the site, said he also favored the project. Koon owns Asheville Oil Company and said he planned to move his business from its 4 Fairview Road location.

Laura Hudson, P&Z’s chairwoman, said that in thinking about hotel projects, she’s been mulling “objective criteria” officials might use in determining whether or not to approve them. Hudson said she landed on the following considerations:

-does the hotel or lodging use displace business or residential uses?

-does it provide parking?

-does it have “ground floor activation” like retail spaces or a restaurant?

“That’s the lens through which I’m looking at these projects,” Hudson said. The RB hotel project is a good one, she said. The hotel should add a shuttle service to the nearby Biltmore Estate, Hudson added.

Fellow commission members agreed and voted unanimously in its favor.

The second hotel project, referred to as the Family Lodge, calls for spreading 56 rooms across three historic existing buildings and one new building on Biltmore Avenue. The project, inside the city’s central business district boundaries, stretches from just north of the Wild Wing Cafe restaurant up Biltmore Avenue to just below the now-closed Bartaco restaurant.

Asheville attorney Gene Ellison, speaking on behalf of the developer, said the unique project includes the restoration and renovation of three buildings that were built as homes in the early 1900s. One building would have 10 lodging rooms, another would have four rooms and the third would house six rooms. A new, separate building would have a restaurant and 36 rooms designed to accommodate families with suites, Ellison said.

“I think it’s a great project, a great addition to downtown,” Ellison said.

Hudson, the commission’s chairwoman, said she didn’t approve of converting the existing buildings to a lodging use. “I think we’re losing our mix” of uses in the central business district, she said. While praising the project’s design, Hudson said she would have “a hard time turning almost an entire block of downtown into lodging.”

Commission member Joe Archibald said he liked the re-purposing of the old houses for a lodging use, but said he wished the new building to be constructed could be apartments for workers rather than hotel rooms.

No one from the public rose to speak on the project.

Commission member Guillermo Rodriguez motioned to approved the Family Lodge, and the commission voted 5-2 in favor, with Hudson and Archibald voting against.

5 Comments

  1. Maybe a story about who Chris Day is.

  2. Jason, Are there really no comments on these two projects?

  3. As someone who lives nearby, I’ve followed the Family Lodge project for a while but without much of an opinion. I was alarmed when I read commission chair Laura Hudson’s comment that this project would “turn almost an entire city block into lodging.” No way should that be allowed.

    With time on my hands (I’m retired) and curious to see what the actual area of the proposed hotel use was, I got online and dug around some. According to Buncombe County tax maps and GIS, the total block is about 3.5 acres, and the total proposed hotel use is 1.55 acres, which is less than 50%. This made me feel better, it’s not almost the entire block, but less than half. And the majority of the land contains 3 beautiful historic houses in great need of preservation and repair.

    Seems like Ms. Hudson got a bit carried away. Half of something is obviously not almost the entire thing. I’d think the land area would have to be closer to 75% or 80% before one could say “almost the entire block”. As chairperson of the very important Planning and Zoning Commission, doesn’t she have a responsibility to be accurate and not exaggerate? Or did she mean to say “almost of half of the block”?

    Another point. With only 56 rooms on 1.55 acres of land, the Family Lodge is a very low density development. In contrast, the AC Hotel has 132 rooms on 0.6 acres of land.

    Folks, this town needs some rational thinking on hotel development. Be accurate, be precise. The sky isn’t falling.

  4. So…they shut down a great hotel project down the road near mission hospital because “too many hotels” and now they approve this one that really isn’t needed???? something is beginning to smell bad.

  5. As someone who lives nearby, I’ve followed the Family Lodge project for a while but without much of an opinion. I was alarmed when I read commission chair Laura Hudson’s comment that this project would “turn almost an entire city block into lodging.” No way that should be allowed.

    With time on my hands (retired) and curious to see what the actual area of the proposed hotel use was, I got online and dug around some. According to Buncombe County tax maps and GIS, the total block is about 3.5 acres, and the total proposed hotel use is 1.55 acres, which is less than 50%. This made me feel better, it’s not almost the entire block, but less than half. And the majority of the land contains 3 beautiful historic houses in great need of preservation and repair.

    Seems like Ms. Hudson got a bit carried away. Half of something is NOT almost the entire thing. I’d think the land area would have to be closer to 75% or 80% before one could say “almost the entire block”.

    Another point. With only 56 rooms on 1.55 acres of land, the Family Lodge is a low density development. In contrast, the AC Hotel has 132 rooms on 0.6 acres of land.

    Folks, this town needs some rational thinking on hotel development. Be accurate, be precise. The sky isn’t falling.

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