The Asheville Downtown Commission voted 5-2 last week to deny an application to create a new 56-room hotel out of three existing historic structures and one new, 5-story hotel building along Biltmore Avenue.

The commission serves as an advisory board to Asheville City Council, and its vote does not have a binding effect. The project will move on to the Asheville Planning & Zoning Commission for review, and to Asheville City Council for a final vote.

The hotel project is known as the Family Lodge. Its address is 155 Biltmore Avenue. It includes existing buildings at 123, 129 and 137 Biltmore Ave., which are historic structures first built as residential homes around the late 1800s/early 1900s. In recent years, the buildings have served as homes for offices. A fourth building, a 5-story structure with 36 rooms and a public restaurant, would also be built, according to the proposal.

The Family Lodge would be located next to another big project, a condo building that’s already under construction at 145 Biltmore Ave. Plans call for a 7-story building housing about 27 luxury condos.

In reviewing the project, Asheville Downtown Commission Chairwoman Sage Turner tells me that the commisssion found the developer had made significant improvements to the original design, but did not meet the requirements of the UDO in that it: did not activate the ground floor that wraps the parking deck with the required 20-foot depth of habitable space along Lexington Avenue; and did not meet the required 70 percent fenestration ratio on the Lexington Avenue side. This

The proposal also didn’t have the required quality of ground-floor exterior material, and it went beyond the maximum depth allowed with its Biltmore Avenue courtyard, Turner reports. But the project developers agreed to update the quality of the ground-floor exterior materials, and the commission agreed that the courtyard depth could be a positive aspect of the design, according to Turner.

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