The historic Flatiron Building in Asheville was built in 1927./ photo by Jason Sandford

A developer has plans to buy Asheville’s iconic Flatiron Building and turn it into a hotel.

The historic building at 20 Battery Park Ave., which was put up for sale by its owners earlier this year with a $16 million price tag, has not been sold. No official plans have been submitted to city offices for review.

But Steven Lee Johnson, a member of the Asheville Downtown Commission, told the commission during its regular monthly meeting on Friday that the board’s design committee had reviewed basic plans for the Flatiron Building hotel project during an Aug. 24 meeting.

The committee saw sketches and talked about sidewalks, the use of public spaces outside the building and the possibility of reducing the width of Battery Park Avenue to add a bike lane, Johnson said.

Remodeling the historic building built in 1927 and changing its use from office space to a hospitality use would require a rezoning request, one that would go before the Asheville Planning & Zoning Commission and ultimately to Asheville City Council for final approval.

A spokesman for the company that manages the building said back in March that the time was right to see if there were any potential new owners interested in the building, one of the most unique structures in a city known for its outstanding downtown architecture.

The group that owns the building now bought it in 1985 for $440,000, according to property tax records. The nine-story structure is home to a popular ground-level coffee shop, while its upper floors are home to dozens of offices used by small business owners and entrepreneurs. There’s a ninth-floor penthouse apartment.

16 Comments

  1. This is, and always has been a tourist town, so get used to it. Maybe a lot of you commentators came to Asheville as a tourists before you moved here and now you don’t want anybody else to come. This town is going to grow, it’s going to change, and it’s going to attract people from other places. Development goes in cycles, right now a lot of apartments and hotels are being built. They’ll eventually get overbuilt and then stop, and another sector will take off, such as offices. Why pick on hotels? Don’t you think they’re too many breweries, too many attorneys, too many tire stores, too many farm to table restaurants, too many doctors, too many damn taco shops? Let’s go back to the way Asheville was in 1980 when it really was for locals only. See how you like that.

    • Don’t you think they’re too many breweries — Yes. To build too many of anything displays a lack of imagination. If we were half as creative as we say we are, we’d be building breweries and other tangible industries as well.

      …too many attorneys — No.

      …too many tire stores — No. You should see Detroit. They seem to be placed roughly every eighty feet along all the major roads, but considering the state of repair of most of Detroit’s streets, that’s probably by necessity. It’s rough up there.

      …too many farm to table restaurants — Yes, because “farm-to-table” is a pretentious code phrase for “expensive.” I’m a big, big fan of truth in advertising, which is why I wish we could call “handcrafted, artisan, craft, artisanal, farm-to-table luxury” the b.s. carnival that it really is. It all just means “expensive” and you should say so.

      …too many doctors — No. Especially not when it comes to mental healthcare providers.

      …too many damn taco shops? — Yes, because duplicating the cuisines that are already here is just more proof that we’re not half as creative as we’d like to think in this town. There’s a world of cuisine that we don’t eat because too many people are trying to copy what we’ve already got 80 of and don’t need any more.

      Next question, please.

    • luther blissett says:

      Maybe you’ve forgotten that one of Julian Price’s first projects was renovating what is now the Self-Help Building.

      Developers are like sheep, and the hotel craze shows no sign of abating, even while there’s demand for small-business office space and negative supply. So maybe the Flatiron will be expensively converted back into offices in ten years, by which time the people who are working in those offices right now will have gone.

    • Kudos to Muffalina here ad I completely agree. We pick on hotels for two reasons:
      We have enough of them as downtown is already overrun with tourists.
      They diminish the uniqueness of our downtown by creating an environment catered to out of towners instead of residents.

      I have worked with multiple businesses in the Flatiron Building and have friends with offices there. Converting that space as well as the bb&t building is a big hit to small businesses who want/need to be downtown. Imagine you work downtown: your hair stylist is in the Flatiron Building, and your therapist. Your husbands office is there. Maybe your realtor is there too. And let’s assume you were born and raised in Asheville just to take that shallow logic off the table. To make way for more hotel rooms, your sylist moves to west Avl, your therapist to Hendersonville rd, and your husband’s office and realtor to Merrimon: is that development improving your life?

      And yes, we absolutely have too many breweries and farm to table restaurants and taco shops. Again, catering to tourists. We can be more creative and unique than this.

  2. Abigail Leech says:

    I’ve heard the building has already been bought and will force its occupants to leave in early 2019…

    I can’t wait to get out of this town.

  3. God when will the gentrification and tourist turned resident explosion end. Folks we are losing out town hotel by hotel-its too much and Asheville is now in danger of losing its small city charm as well as affordability-we have to stop this beast before it gets full.

  4. It’s ALREADY HAPPENED. Deal closes mid-2019. No notice to renters. The last place in downtown that held down AVL for locals. Of course it’s “preliminary” as to retain outcry until the deal irrevocable.

  5. No!!!!! Please leave downtown Asheville alone!!! No more hotels!!!
    Enough is enough!!!

  6. Please explain to me why business owners would be concerned about more vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

  7. Uh-oh. More hotel rooms. Gotta fill them up somehow. Better raise the room tax so that the TDA can do more advertising to bring more tourists here.

    Yikes! Look at all these tourists. Better build more hotels where they can stay.

    Uh-oh. More hotel rooms. Gotta fill them up somehow. Better raise the room tax so that the TDA can do more advertising to bring more tourists here.

    Yikes! Look at all these tourists. Better build more hotels where they can stay.

    Uh-oh. More hotel rooms. Gotta fill them up somehow. Better raise the room tax so that the TDA can do more advertising to bring more tourists here.

    Yikes! Look at all these tourists. Better build more hotels where they can stay.

    Uh-oh. More hotel rooms. Gotta fill them up somehow. Better raise the room tax so that the TDA can do more advertising to bring more tourists here.

    Yikes! Look at all these tourists. Better build more hotels where they can stay.

    Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

  8. Elizabeth Schell says:

    As a small downtown business owner, I am very concerned – not only for yet another hotel to be built in such short vicinity of other hotels – and thus increasing – yet again – vehicle and pedestrian traffic – but also I am most concerned for the many small businesses and entrepreneurs who have offices in this building. Where will they go? How will they be able to afford rent downtown? This will end up putting a lot of people — counselors, advisors, practitioners, etc. — out of business.

    • luther blissett says:

      This is absolutely the correct question to ask, more so than another darn hotel. Affordable small office space — not just downtown, but anywhere in the county — is nigh-on impossible to find. The BB&T wasn’t great office space, but it was space and now it’s gone. The Flatiron isn’t the best either, but it was space and it’s going away. The only businesses who’ll be able to afford to keep offices are the big law firms and doctors or people who were around in the 90s and bought their property relatively cheaply.

      The city can’t claim to support alternatives to the tourist theme park if self-employed professionals are being displaced.

  9. What are all of these tourists coming here to do? And is there any need for ANOTHER hotel? come on…the shine is going to wear off Asheville and we’ll have 16 empty hotels soon.

  10. NO!!!!!!..enough Fu(7ing hotels!!

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