Here are more renderings/elevations for the new AC Hotel planned in downtown Asheville. Hotelier John McKibbon plans to build the hotel on the spot of the existing parking deck for the BB&T building at the corner of College and Broadway. McKibbon also plans to renovate the BB&T and install a new boutique hotel in that structure.

Here’s more background on the plans for the new AC Hotel, plans that met early approval last week by the Asheville Downtown Commission.

Locator map here from The Asheville Map.

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39 Comments

  1. Damn Florida developers. Farewell to the quality of life asheville provided when it didn’t take 40 minutes to drive through downtown–when parking near the place you wanted to go was available.

    I know the chamber of commerce said a few years ago that they wanted Asheville to be the next Gatlinburg and it looks like it’s happening.

    For a town that prides itself on independents and locals I hope everyone is ready for the flood of national chains coming to wreck our downtown.

    • hauntedheadnc says:

      Are you really, honestly complaining about downtown being too busy? Do you realize that’s a “problem” most cities would kill to have?

      You know, one of my favorite pictures of the Langren Hotel, an eight-story structure that used to stand where this AC Hotel is planned (you were aware of that, weren’t you?) shows the streets and sidewalks so crowded that people can barely pass one another at all.

      That picture was taken back during Asheville’s heyday in the 1920’s. Are you really going to sit there and tell me that you don’t want that sort of energy downtown again?

      • well said haunted. The people that want a shitty place to live in the mountains with no tourists to crowd them out can move to Marion, Cranberry or Unicoi.

      • And busy and growth for it’s own sake is good, right? The same way unchecked growth is medically known as cancer. Which kills the host. Funny how that one never gets a clever retort other than the FOX news playbook.

  2. I think this is a GREAT design! It’s a great height, provides roof top access, provides retail space in a dead area of town, has a modern look with classic design elements as an honor to the architecture of the past and provides parking in a well masked parking garage. It’s gonna happen regardless. I’m just happy that the design was thought through. It could be an eyesore like the BB&T building. Our town is growing, new buildings will be built and progress will continue. As a native of 35 years, I’m excited to see Asheville’s next chapter!

    • luther blissett says:

      We’re going to have to agree to disagree on the “well masked” part and on our opinions of the BB&T. I’m with orulz here: College Street between Lexington and Market ought to be as hospitable to ground-level retail as Patton Ave, but it’s still going to feel like a downtown thruway for westbound cars. It’s a lost opportunity.

  3. Definitely support the idea of a hotel here and this is an improvement from the current parking deck but I am nevertheless disappointed by the design.

    1. Lack of retail along College. Downtown Commission pointed this out but their recommendations carry little weight. Combine this with the Akzona (Biltmore) building across the street and College through there is a miserable sterile concrete valley, which is a COMPLETE waste so close to the center of town.
    2. The whole thing just looks… ugly. It makes the Aloft look good by comparison. Aloft puts the parking deck at the interior of the block and screens it with hotel rooms (and a lot left for a future building along Lexington.) This puts an ugly parking right up against broadway and especially college. Oof.

  4. great news, the parking deck there now is a safety hazard.

  5. I wonder why they named the hotel Air Conditioning? Seems like people would assume they had that.

    • boatrocker says:

      I thought it named after AC Entertainment, who used to let local bands play the Mills River festival and then stiff them for the check.

  6. Does Asheville not have an architectural review committee? The Indigo looks like a coat of primer that never got painted over. The Alost Hotel on Biltmore is another concrete slab with neon lights. This new one looks eerily similar to the jail just down the road, the entrance is nicer though. It’s too bad there’s no creativity or beauty in these skyline dominating structures. I’m looking for ‘wow, that’s a beautiful building and look how it adds to Asheville’s character.’

    • hauntedheadnc says:

      I look for that too, but the last time a developer wanted to building a structure like that, the NIMBY’s screamed it down.

  7. Mary Fierle says:

    So wish the architects name would be included with these stories! An architect designed this and it would be nice for the public to know who.

    • luther blissett says:

      A bright 8-year-old with a Lego set? It has that look and feel.

      “Decorative grilles” for most of the College Street ground level. Whoop de do.

      • Unless it’s going to be what Grove Arcade was supposed to be, all buildings are going to be considered ugly. The renaissance of beautiful buildings is gone. That is no longer the motivation. It’s utility, and efficiency.

        This design, for a building, is actually not that bad.

  8. Nice work, Jason! I can’t believe that you found views from each side of the building already! Unfortunately, I looks like Market Street (the back of the building) will be getting a 4-story wall of blank concrete.

    • The Market Street side is indeed a blank wall, but there is a parking lot in between this hotel and Market Street. The lot is owned by someone else.

    • I think it’s assumed that at some point the empty lot will also have a building on it – why design & build accoutrements that may get covered up by somebody else’s brick wall a year after you’re done?

  9. Awesome, bring on the traffic

    • If you don’t like traffic stay off 26 anytime, and out of downtown on Saturday. Have you ever been to Atlanta, that place is nuts.

      • ashevillain says:

        IMO, with an exception for rush hour, ATL is easier to navigate than AVL. Yes, they have lots more traffic (street and foot traffic) but they actually have built the necessary infrastructure to handle this for the most part.

  10. Awesome, bring on the jobs.

    • ashevillain says:

      Yep. Those sweet sweet low-paying service industry jobs. Can’t get enough of them.

      • hauntedheadnc says:

        As if you wouldn’t complain about a big office building going in there also. And we already know that Asheville’s NIMBY’s are upset about industry locating inside the city limits. New Belgium is proof enough of that.

      • boatrocker says:

        I tend to agree- it strikes me as funny when one points out that a new hotel owned by a company not even based in WNC will ‘bring in the jobs’. Low paying food service industry jobs that is.

        It strikes me as even funnier when the G word (gentrfic@#$%*&) is used, and a hissy fit ensues, as if this doesn’t fit the very definition of the word.

        • hauntedheadnc says:

          Gentrification is usually used to describe the process of throwing out lower-income residents and businesses once a rich person decides they like that lower-income person’s property. The word is not usually used to describe the process of replacing a rundown parking deck with a building that actually produces tax revenue and jobs (low wage or not).

          …Especially not when the rundown parking deck replaced an eight-story hotel in the first place. I’ve actually never heard of “gentrification” being used to describe the process of a piece of property coming full circle.

          • boatrocker says:

            The “G” word also refers to population migration, yes?

            As in if the only place to work downtown is for shit wage, wouldn’t you tuck your legs between your legs and work for yourself?

            Oh yeah, I forgot, get a job entitlement hippie, go back to school, move out of town for rebuttals. Sorry. Yay! hotels!

          • hauntedheadnc says:

            Gentrifcation only applies to population migration when poor residents are thrown out so rich ones can move in. Nobody’s being thrown out when a rotting parking deck falls for something bigger, better, and newer.

            Frankly though, I wish we’d never torn down the Langren Hotel that the parking deck replaced.

      • Remember, it’s not just about the jobs at the hotel, it’s about Asheville’s holding capacity for travelers and tourists who spend big money all over town.

        The vast majority of hoteliers in any city in the world are non local entities. It’s a common story. If we actually had a green, locally owned, living wage hotel of this size that reflected our communities values (and that would be AWESOME) it would be a truly unique groundbreaking experience. But what we’re seeing is run of the mill industry. It doesn’t exactly destroy local culture, but it waters it down a bit.

        • boatrocker says:

          No, a hotelier is an entity. Sadly, our Supreme Court system now calls just about anyone an entity, aka a ‘person’. Does ‘big money’ spent downtown personally affect you in a positive way or are you just in love with more young dumb consumers downtown, even if some of them wear a low cut blouse?

          Your comment about a ‘holding capacity’ is sooooo close to the real point- Malthus’ idea of a ‘carrying capacity’- darn it, you almost addresed my entire point but shied away at the last minute.
          Fear of proven anthropology theory much?

          • boatrocker says:

            P.S. I do agree about the watering down part.

          • hauntedheadnc says:

            I’m curious, boatrocker… You’re obviously quite against a hotel in this location, despite the fact that a larger hotel once stood on the site. That being the case, just what is it that a developer could have proposed on this plot of ground that you would have supported? You’re giving a lot of lip service to the low-wage jobs you think this hotel will create, but if you’re so against growth, aren’t you supposed to be against high-wage jobs, since an abundance of those would cause Asheville to grow even faster than it is now?

            Two questions. Please advise to both.

          • boatrocker says:

            I’d be happy to address both points, haunted- Thank you for actually posing an articulate question instead of screaming for me to move to Leicester or Canton or something.

            1) Sure, put something in that space, it’s not doing anything positive as it is right now. Even so, there are locally owned hotels in town that at least benefit someone here. So- encourage local hotels to be built here if they must be. That’s not so bad is it?

            2) I’m not against living wage jobs-I’m against touting a non locally hotel to ‘put us on the map’ (God I hate that phrase, it’s so trite) when the majority of jobs would be the typical food service type jobs which don’t allow one to live very well in this city. Remember- we do have the highest cost of living in NC yet our wages don’t keep up (why does nobody actually address this point-
            ju-heeez).

            With anything dealing with Asheville’s tourist economy, I always refer back to Thomas Malthus and his theory of a carrying capacity. Though called a theory, extinctions, ecological disasters and even the fall of the Mayan Empire prove this as fact, though I doubt anyone on City Council ever would consider taking Malthus’ words to heart.

            So sure, go ahead and build it, the plans are already in motion- I promise I won’t be the one to say “I told you so” when the only jobs here in a few years are food service industry type jobs, but I will at least say for now
            ‘as ye sow, so shall ye reap’.

          • hauntedheadnc says:

            As the former reporter pointed out, most every hotel in town is locally owned to a degree. The franchises pay their franchise fees and keep the rest. The profits do not funnel en masse to some sinister corporate tower far away.

            In regards to carrying capacity, Asheville is one of the few landlocked places I can think of that actually could support large-scale urban development. It’s as leas as good, and probably better a location than Knoxville, Charlotte, Atlanta, and all the others within a couple hours’ drive.

            Regarding living-wage jobs, I just don’t see you supporting a major corporate office building on this location, no matter how many high-paying jobs it generates. I don’t see you supporting much of anything, in fact. Restaurants are out because they pay so low. Likewise retail, likewise hospitality. That leaves corporate office jobs or industry of some kind… and as I said, I just don’t see you getting any more excited about those options than any other NIMBY would be. I get the feeling, in fact, that your dream for Asheville is the standard-issue NIMBY dream that no one moves here ever again, the tourists go away, and yet we magically manage to maintain a business community that our paltry population of 85K is much too small to sustain.

            When marching lockstep to oppose all growth and change, nobody ever addresses that point either, you’ll notice.

          • boatrocker says:

            I dunno, it looks as if we can only agree to disagree. Words like sustainable and such don’t often appeal to folks who want growth for its own sake. Sure, build it and they will come. It’s already approved, but I’ll be curious as to what the next few years bring.

            Change is fine, as nothing is forever, not to get too philosophical. However, unchecked growth for its own sake is defined medically as cancer. And it does tend to kill its host.

            Build on, but I’m no NIMBY. I’d enjoy a few more music clubs downtown that cater to regional and local bands vs. hearing music in a froo froo restaurant treated as background noise or shelling out $40 for a ticket and getting a full cavity search at the door by a guy with an orange shirt.

            I do understand the challenges that face anybody trying to stay afloat downtown and don’t discount hard work. I just gnash my teeth at the starstruck attitude of someone who sees anything in downtown as some sort of saving grace for our city. I’ve watched it change over the years, from the mid 90’s on and some growth her I actually (gasp!) enjoyed being a part of or watching from the
            sidelines.

            I also learned that the Iroquois Indians (bear with me, this isn’t some deep breathing namste thing) used to carefully weigh every decision about the tribe with the thought in mind (paraphrasing)-“screw short term growth, how will this decision affect us 7 generations from now?” Can you (or anyone) picture what Asheville will be like in 7 generations, especially if our grown up childrens’ children etc are involved?

          • hauntedheadnc says:

            Nobody can picture Asheville seven generations from now, neither you nor I. That’s about as long as my family’s been here, and I guarantee you nobody in 1777 could have envisioned the things we treasure in Asheville now, like city hall, the Jackson Building, or Biltmore House. Nobody lives that mindfully, or is even capable of it. Every decision you make affects something badly. Every single one.

            Thus, the thing to do is guide growth following the old patterns that gave us places worth giving a damn about in the first place. Urban growth, in other words. Screw Tunnel Road. I want to see the empty spots fill in downtown. I want this city — especially when it has smirking weasels like Tim Moffitt actively working to kill it — survive, grow, and thrive.

          • Agreed for smirkers. How does one recruit the ideological antidote? My good looks will only qualify a “From Russia With Love” type but they can’t pay attention to my beliefs for some reason.
            Special smirk.

    • Former Reporter at WYPN says:

      Quite a few hotels in Asheville are in fact locally owned.

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