For years, debate and conflict have surrounded the small piece of land at Haywood Street and Page Avenue, across from the Basilica. Hotel? Park? Plaza?


City council members agreed last night to sell the land across from the Basilica of St. Lawrence to McKibbon Hotel Group. Mayor Terry Bellamy and Councilman Cecil Bothwell opposed the plan.

McKibbon is the same company behind the newly completed Aloft Hotel on Biltmore Avenue, which has drawn criticism for its cinderblock design and bright neon roof.

From the Citizen-Times:

Councilman Gordon Smith, who seconded Hunt’s motion to approve the sale, said “Right now, we’ve got a dead space down there.”

Speaking to the developer, Smith said, “You heard tonight that the city expects your best work.”

Smith offered several amendments to the original resolution aimed at addressing some community concerns. Among the conditions for the developer is a requirement to use best practices to make sure that the neighboring basilica is not damaged during construction.

The height of the building will be limited to no more than 75 feet on Page Avenue and no more than 90 feet on Haywood Street and the structure must be 170 feet from the church.

City leaders also want a traffic management plan for the project, and they want the project to accommodate a future plaza.

Read the full article here.

Councilman Gordon Smith responds about the sale on his blog:

The McKibbon Group is prepared to invest more than $25 million into our downtown. As people cry out for economic relief, it would be folly to reject this investment. The property tax revenues will help all of our citizens in perpetuity.

The $2.3 million sale price of the land can go directly to creating affordable housing in our community. I will not vote for the project unless Council agrees to dedicate money to this purpose.

The decision will neither create nor prohibit a park/plaza. We need a welcoming space to join Haywood to Grove Arcade and to complement the Basilica and Civic Center. There can be a plaza, and step one will be the Basilica saying they want it and being willing to either build it or partner with others who want to do so.

We need to do away with the urban blight that exists there now.

Our new design guidelines coupled with a development agreement will ensure the highest quality building and protection of the structural integrity of the Basilica.

Read Smith’s complete blog post here.

McKibbon’s “Haywood Facts” website

Previously posted in Ashvegas:

Drawings show what proposed hotel would look like in downtown Asheville

Basilica puts full court press on City Hall to stop proposed development



  1. Chris Dahlquist says:

    I’ll be voting for the council members who voted for this project. Seems like a winning proposal. We’ll get a very tasteful hotel (according to the renderings), tax revenue, jobs, etc. Asheville has a urban core that should be developed sensibly; the alternative is urban sprawl and endless suburbia.

  2. Elaine Lite: “If council members vote for this plan they will feel the consequences come election day.”

    Gordon Smith, Chris Pelly, Marc Hunt, Jan Davis voted YES.
    Terry Bellamy, Cecil Bothwell (member of PARC) voted NO.
    Mannheimer recused

    Council video available. See minute 04:00:030 for Bellamy’s comment on PARC.

    Interesting takeaway from last night’s #avlgov: 2 of 3 members endorsed by PARC voted for McKibbon sale, over PARC’s opposition.

  3. it’ll be a great place to have a wedding reception and for out of town wedding guests …

    just across the street from the church!

  4. What is the design review process like for a project of this type? I can certainly see both sides of this argument – a park would be lovely, as would revenue from a desirable hotel. As I’m not yet residing in Asheville, I don’t feel qualified to take a firm stand either way, but I do hope there will be major design consideration given to complimenting not obscuring or competing with the beautiful basilica. I hope the McKibboon group is interested in enhancing the site and respecting the neighbors, not creating a gawking point for visitors. And I hope whatever gov’t body is responsible for approving plans does their homework and holds McKibbon’s feet to the fire until a suitable design is presented and does not necessarily cave to the first presentation.

    • The city doesn’t approve designs per se. There are certain criteria that must be met, but the city isn’t in the beauty contest business. This issue a bit different in that the city was the landowner so had a little more steerage in the project.

      If/when you do move here, take a mental or actual picture of everything. That is your moment of perfection and you are required to oppose any change from that moment forward no matter how compelling the case for change appears to be.

  5. Heavens to Betsy! Someone wants to invest money into our little city…how outrageous! We shouldn’t let them…that would mean change! Gosh golly, God put all them buildings downtown up and decreed that no other buildings should accompany them. In fact, He is dusting off his damnation to other cities who obscure asphalt views of churches….screw you Jane Jacobs! Affordable housing? naw let em sleep in Pritchard Park. Jobs? whatever. Downtown Hotels…let em stay on Tunnel and increase traffic. In fact, we should ban tourists..change the name of our baseball team to the Curmudgeons or the City Revenueless Sox…then we can all whine and complain about the homeless, the traffic, and the lack of money for city projects. Extreme liberalism makes a full circle to extreme conservatism.

  6. so sad – dead space? how about room to breathe and see?
    Over 20 years I have lived here each City Council has been determined to undermine the integrity and beauty of our city.

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