Asheville Downtown Commission approves design of new downtown AC Hotel by McKibbon


Here’s a look at the design of the new AC Hotel, which is planned to be built at the corner of College and Broadway in downtown Asheville. The Asheville Downtown Commission gave its approval of the plan after some vigorous debate. The hotel is the first of two new hotels that hotelier John McKibbon plans to build in downtown. The second will be inside Asheville’s BB&T building just across Broadway from this AC Hotel. (McKibbon opened his Aloft Hotel on Biltmore Avenue a couple of years ago.)

Here’s a quick description of the new AC Hotel, which will be built on the site of an aging parking garage, from a previous press release:

The existing parking deck, which is 48 years old and has 351 spaces, will be demolished and replaced with a new garage. On top of the garage, on the Broadway end, McKibbon will build a 120-room AC Hotel by Marriott. The hotel will include a restaurant and bar with mountain views, meeting space, a fitness center and other amenities. Additionally, there will be retail spaces at street level on Broadway and College streets. See attached rendering. Construction will begin later this year.

“We are excited to finally begin our next hotel project in Asheville. We are partnering with Glenn Wilcox to build an exceptional AC Hotel by Marriott on one of the very best sites in Asheville,” McKibbon said.

Plans for the BB&T Tower include an extensive external redesign. The new-look building will house an upscale, full-service, boutique hotel with 150-170 rooms and suites on the lower floors. Above the hotel will be six floors with vacation rentals and for-sale condominiums. Construction on the Tower property will begin immediately following the completion of the AC Hotel by Marriott.

Asheville is bracing itself for a wave of new hotel construction. A new hotel is under construction right now on Haywood Street. This AC Hotel is in the planning stages, along with several others.



Eli July 31, 2014 - 12:17 pm

You ever notice that the most desirable places to live have the least amount of parking. Perhaps stop driving and you won’t need to look for parking.
Look at an aerial view of Asheville and you’ll see parking lots all over the place. Asheville needs less parking. People will manage by choosing different ways to get around. Biking, walking, and buses.

Matt July 31, 2014 - 3:14 pm

You bring up a good point, Eli. There is AMPLE parking downtown. The issue is that so many of the parking lots are closed/private. Walk around an evening sometime when downtown is packed and look for all the giant empty parking lots. It’s weird.

I wonder if there’s some way to require downtown businesses and buildings to open their parking to the public during non business hours? Do any other cities do this?

Nancy Alexander July 15, 2014 - 9:00 am

Sickening !!! Yet ANOTHER hotel approved, and even LESS parking available to boot! I am a 7th generation native of Asheville, and I have watched the “good old boy” system become stronger and stronger in the last few years, approving over-building in our downtown area to the point of being so transparent that “payola” has to be the only reason all of this is happening it makes me want to leave this area I have loved up until the past few years. I enjoyed and totally supported all of the growth to a point – we have now have overdone it, we’ve gone over the peak, and all of the benefits go not to the people who actually live in Asheville, but to others. As a bonus, it is now almost impossible for natives to even afford to own property and live here.

hauntedheadnc July 16, 2014 - 12:53 pm

You might have a point if it were not for the fact that this hotel is going on the site where a larger hotel once stood about 90 years ago. You would also have a point if the number of hotel rooms in downtown Asheville now equaled the number of hotel rooms there were downtown in the 1920’s.

However, since you have not met those requirements, you really don’t have much of a point. I think, in fact, that your problem is that Asheville is urban, is returning to the same level of urbanity it once possessed back in its glory days, and you can’t handle it because you’re used to Asheville as it was when the malls killed downtown and downtown fell apart.

Murphy July 14, 2014 - 5:12 pm

According to the CT the new garage will have 325 spaces (26 less than the current garage)…

How is this going to be enough parking for approximately 300 new hotel rooms (AC and BB&T combined), plus inhabitants of 6 floors of condos (proposed in BB&T remodel), plus the necessary employees to staff each of the properties and the “retail spaces” that are planned in each structure… not to mention folks who may come as “social guests” to restaurants/retail and not spend the night…

the current 351 space lot is “full” at times as it is and a good portion of the spaces in it are monthly parking for folks who work in various attorney offices on Market Street (and in the BB&T) during business hours – after that the sapces are public parking…

do the various “Commissions and powers that be” even consider the impact that insufficient parking will have when they approve such proposals?

do the builders/architects even consider that?

I realize that the owners of the new structure are under no obligation to lease spaces monthly or to offer public parking but it really does not seem like there will be enough spaces for daily operation of the proposed businesses in each building.

ashevillain July 14, 2014 - 6:38 pm

The reason no one else can see the potential problems you’ve outlined here?

Them dollar signs. They be blinding.

$ $

Mike July 15, 2014 - 10:10 am

It’s formula based on occupancy %, use, etc. For 90% of the year is ‘should’ be plenty of parking, that 10% of the year its fully booked will have the issues you’ve outlined.
Business’ don’t have to provide parking for 100% capacity. For example, McDonalds at full capacity may be 100, but they don’t have to provide 100 parking spaces. (bad example, but easy premise)

The real problem (of downtown parking woes) are venues that are high capacity and ZERO parking, like Orange Peel, or The Lab, etc…..

Murphy July 15, 2014 - 11:01 am

The occupancy rates of all the downtown hotels is very high almost year-round…

why do you suppose so many are trying to “get-in” on the action.

If there weren’t demand for more lodging in the CBD there would not be 5 (or so) new properties chomping at the bit to build as quickly as possible

Mike July 15, 2014 - 2:37 pm

I don’t think anyone disagrees with you, but at least they are providing ‘some’ parking (if it is enough, that’s and independent debate)

I think your anger should be more to those who provide ZERO parking.

Would you agree that every new business downtown should provide enough parking for their occupancy? Lets start with the Orange Peel, or Wicked Weed, or Fine Arts Theatre, or ……….

boatrocker July 15, 2014 - 9:24 pm

Yes I would agree. Pardon me for making sense.
Too bad we have been brainwashed to think otherwise.

murphy July 16, 2014 - 8:53 am

YES! any business which draws folks for overnight stays (or permanent residents) should be required to provide parking on their premises for that occupancy…

and if the city does not have rules for such they should.

smytty July 15, 2014 - 4:02 pm

You are also presuming that this is some situation where people staying at Hotel X would not be downtown otherwise. I propose that a large percentage of folks at Hotel X, parked in their garage, would be staying on Tunnel Rd and parked all day on Haywood St. or in a garage. Therefore, you are rearranging parking and adding spaces, rather than reducing them.

orulz July 16, 2014 - 2:29 pm

I believe the parking lot across College from the BB&T (behind Green Sage) is part of this development as well, as is the western half of the block that BB&T’s loading docks and bank drive thrus sit on. I expect at least one more parking deck to be built as a part of this development.

ashbeard July 14, 2014 - 10:18 am

What does the back look like? Did you ever notice that the back of most newer buildings in this city are neglected? For instance: Aloft Hotel (a wall of concrete when viewed from Lexington), the Biltmore Building (a concrete block from College Street). I hope that they start considering these buildings as 3 dimensional objects, or otherwise commission some mural projects the for blank walls that they’re unsuccessfully hiding.

A-Mo July 14, 2014 - 1:27 pm

I keep hoping for public outcry for some sort of mural contest for these spaces, but so far residents have been content with looking at stories high expanses of concrete block.

ashbeard July 14, 2014 - 3:37 pm

Sometimes I think we’re an “Art Town” that’s more content with clean concrete walls and selling paintings to tourists rather than producing public works that are free for local residents to enjoy and participate in. Sure, we have; the Lexington Gateway underpass, Chicken Alley, a butterfly mural on Lexington, and occasional work by Cutty or Spagnola…however we also have numerous opportunities on blank, boring, walls that most people apparently don’t see.

Matt in AVL July 14, 2014 - 1:47 pm

I believe there are supposed to be more housing units and ground-level shops on the back of Aloft. Something similar to the Lexington Station apartments. You could probably blame the economy for the lack of progress on that part of the project.

ashevillain July 14, 2014 - 1:58 pm

Where do you suppose they are putting that stuff? In the street?

There is not any room. It’s not happening.

Murphy July 14, 2014 - 5:15 pm

That was part of the original plan…

Public Interest Projects was supposed to be responsible for the building of that part of the “Aloof” project but I think they have abandoned it…

ashbeard July 14, 2014 - 3:22 pm

We shouldn’t have much of an economic problem anymore in Asheville…with the flood of tourism that’s apparently in the extended forecast. Pretty soon we’ll have more housing for tourists (hotel rooms) than we will for people who live here.

luther blissett July 14, 2014 - 3:25 pm

Don’t hold your breath. McKibbon got their dry-docked cruise ship, city council got completely suckered, and that’s that.

PBnJ July 15, 2014 - 11:50 am

Look at the back of the parking deck located there now, then shut your mouth.

D.Dial July 14, 2014 - 10:09 am

How many hotels does this make coming to the CBD, 4 or 5?

PBnJ July 14, 2014 - 7:41 am

Cool. Very exciting. It is always nice to have some out with the old, in with the new going on. It is safe to say this building will have have a positive revenue flow for the city over the existing structure.

boatrocker July 13, 2014 - 4:49 pm

Why anyone would want to stay smack dab in downtown Asheville is beyond me. It’s noisy, plain and simple, like any downtown. I prefer trees, crickets and nice neighbors, or at least a hotel situated far away from the bustle.
Notice I said ‘stay’ as in stay in a hotel, not visit. Somehow I doubt all these high end hotels will attract the ‘hey let’s walk everywhere’ clientele- hence the parking facilities.

Just riffing, but I wonder if a rickshaw ‘driver’ would make more than a restaurant worker here?- isn’t there a lady downtown who does just that? Either that or rent bikes to folks like they do in NYC- maybe we could win some national ‘Worst Unattentive Bicyclist City” award. Who knows, maybe a new safer bicycle helmet design will put us ‘on the map’ like Lotus did with whitewater paddling gear.

Oh yeah, and the concept art of the building still reminds me of “Grand Theft Auto”.

Big Al July 13, 2014 - 6:11 pm

You are in the minority. For the last two weekends, downtown has been crammed with visitors and the parking decks were full to capacity, even after charging premium “event parking” rates.

Considering how much you have been bitching and moaning on this blog lately, it is probably best that you stay away and enjoy your crickets.

Matt July 13, 2014 - 8:01 pm

Agreed, on both counts.

boatrocker July 14, 2014 - 2:05 am

Damn, I just got Internet gang raped by a bunch of ‘majority’ pro gentrification ‘kneel down for tourist types’. Not. I’ll stay up late for this.

Sounds like 2 ‘best buddies’ had a bad day for working for serving beer or food. Which of your wives left you last night?

Respond to the content, ponceys.

Jason July 14, 2014 - 10:47 am

Nobody said anything about gentrification. Why is it when anybody invests in the city all the naysayers start screaming “gentrification”? If you don’t like progress than move to Leicester or Canton. Plenty of people stuck in the 70s and 80s there. You would fit in just fine. The rest of us would like Asheville to improve and become even better.

ashevillain July 14, 2014 - 2:01 pm

Oh…so it’s not gentrification, huh? It’s progress?

LEW July 14, 2014 - 3:20 pm

No, boatrocker, you were not gang raped, internet or otherwise. Really.

Big Al July 14, 2014 - 8:22 pm

Sounds like somebody needs to call for a Waaaambulance.

boatrocker July 14, 2014 - 9:09 pm

Any volunteers from the ‘yay another hotel downtown that will re-vitalize our local economy!’ types care to get a job in the hotel once completed and try to support oneself living in Buncombe County? Raise your hand if that sounds fun.

Perhaps one could post some cool charts showing their expenses for living in the county with the highest cost of living in NC vs. what they take home for working a ‘local job’ lovingly provided by our out of state feudal masters? Then we can all jump on that person by calling them lazy and scream at them to go back to school or move. I can’t wait!

hauntedheadnc July 13, 2014 - 8:35 pm

Some people prefer to stay in the heart of downtown because they prefer urban settings. You don’t, and the mistake you’re making is thinking that your viewpoint is universal.

boatrocker July 14, 2014 - 2:18 am

Thank goodness my beliefs are not universal. Otherwise my neighbors would be noveau riche yuppies or the types with flannel shirts with the sleeves cut off.

I love it when we come together as a digi community for embracing core synergystic values.

hauntedheadnc July 14, 2014 - 4:02 am

That’s nice, dear.

smytty July 14, 2014 - 2:34 pm

Parking facilities make a ton of sense for the ‘walk everywhere’ crowd.

hauntedheadnc July 14, 2014 - 5:45 pm

They actually do… Unless you expect the tourists to walk here from Charlotte or Atlanta or wherever.

Fact is, they’ll drive in, park, and walk pretty much everywhere else except the Biltmore Estate while they’re here. For my money, that’s better than them driving in to downtown from Tunnel Road, then driving to go somewhere to eat, then driving to Biltmore, then driving back, and then the next day driving…

boatrocker July 14, 2014 - 5:47 pm

I can’t tell if that is sarcasm or not, but I did point out above that the demographic of folks who will stay in a hotel like that aren’t exactly the foot power types. I can’t wait for even more car traffic downtown. That was sarcasm.

hauntedheadnc July 14, 2014 - 11:32 pm

I see… So, you’re thinking that they’ll drive in to the hotel, park, then later on they’ll get in the car and drive a block to the restaurant they want to eat at, then drive another block to some nice little gallery they’ve heard about, then drive over to Wall Street to the soap shop, then drive over to the Grove Arcade, then drive back to Wall Street for dinner at Laughing Seed, then drive back to the hotel for a rest, then drive over to the Vault for a drink, then drive over to Scandal’s, then drive back to the hotel to turn in.

I don’t see that happening. You seem to be unfamiliar with the nature of urban areas, the type of people who prefer to stay in such areas, and the reasons they prefer to stay there.

boatrocker July 15, 2014 - 9:31 pm

Believe it or not, Capt. Rose Colored Glasses- many outta towner yuppie scum do exactly that- aka drive everywhere and ignore the feet. That is why I pointed that out for being a bad thing.

“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public”. Sound familiar?

Timothy July 21, 2014 - 8:59 am

Exactly. Especially once they realize how difficult it is to find street parking on a Friday or Saturday night they will keep their SUV in the parking deck and walk.

Smytty July 21, 2014 - 11:02 am

Again, I would point out that I agree with HHNC because if you say there will be fewer parking places you are assuming that these are hundreds of people that would otherwise not be in Asheville. As in, people who weren’t going to come to town, but the new hotel was so charming they couldn’t help themselves.

I would say a much more likely scenario is that these people were going to be in town taking up parking spaces, and then staying on Tunnel Rd. It’s not as though 300 hotel rooms = 300 new Asheville guests. It’s just people who are much more likely to walk around town.

jonathan wainscott July 13, 2014 - 4:40 pm

If you are concerned about the City restricting the availability of Air B-n-B rentals, and forcing travelers to choose only hotels owned by out-of-town corporations, please review this petition and sign it if you are in favor of its premise.

Harry July 13, 2014 - 3:27 pm

Looks nicer than the Aloft.

Selene July 13, 2014 - 3:13 am

I had to look up who AC Hotels is. (Found this wiki but I still don’t know what the AC stands for)

theOtherBarry July 13, 2014 - 4:53 pm

I believe the ‘AC’ stands for Antonio Catalán, the founder of ‘AC Hotels’. It’s originally a Spanish company.

doghaus28815 July 12, 2014 - 9:16 pm

it’s ugly.

Jason W July 12, 2014 - 9:40 pm

Uglier than the existing parking garage?

luther blissett July 12, 2014 - 11:51 pm

Nope, but it’s still a parking deck with a hotel dumped on top, and the frontage on College won’t make that block any more pleasant to walk along, just like the Aloft’s crappy concrete side and rear end on Aston and Lexington.

Jason should really describe McKibbon as builders of parking decks with hotel toppings.

hauntedheadnc July 13, 2014 - 6:18 am

As I recall, the plan is for some workforce housing at the Aloft, along the Lexington frontage…

…Just as soon as someone gets around to it.

Murphy July 13, 2014 - 10:35 am

Yes, that was the original plan, but I think that has been indefinitely postponed…if not canceled all together…

theOtherBarry July 13, 2014 - 11:32 am

Why would a developer eat his vegetables, after you’ve let him fill up on cake first?

M42 July 13, 2014 - 2:13 pm

Everything in downtown Asheville is ugly. None of the architecture is consistent.

hauntedheadnc July 13, 2014 - 8:34 pm

That sort of architectural cacophony is part of what makes downtown feel so alive in the first place. Take a stroll around safe, generic, consistent Biltmore Park, and then walk around downtown Asheville, and tell me which one is more visually interesting.

Personally, I love how nothing matches downtown, and how most of the buildings go out of their way to clash with their neighbors. It’s always been that way though… City Hall and the courthouse don’t match and they were built going on 90 years ago. The Drhumor Building matches none of its neighbors. The Battery Park Apartments doesn’t look like it belongs anywhere near the Grove Arcade or the basilica.

And I adore that. We have dozens of buildings that stand out for their singular beauty, and stand out even more for contrasting so sharply with their neighbors. It’s wonderful, as far as I’m concerned.

Murphy July 13, 2014 - 9:40 pm

Unfortunately that “cacophony” is falling victim to the UDO and the various restrictions it places on new construction over a certain size/height… requiring set-backs on upper floors for example: all the new designs we’ve seen recently for new multi-story buildings look very similar.

hauntedheadnc July 14, 2014 - 4:01 am

Unfortunately, the UDO was the best compromise that could be found between the “pave it all and let God sort it out” developers and the “build nothing nowhere nohow never ever” NIMBY’s. I think what we got was reasonable, and there’s plenty of room to work in creativity within the restrictions. You can also still build reasonably tall buildings.

Although God help you if you try. This is still Asheville, and if you want to building anything taller than a standard doghouse, people will be screaming in the streets that we’re not Atlanta.

Amanda July 14, 2014 - 10:07 am

Well said hauntedheadnc. I agree.

Big Al July 13, 2014 - 6:06 pm


What have we done, hired all of the architects from the Stalinist era?

Developers here should promote designs that echo the art-deco buildings that Asheville took such great pains to preserve from urban renewal schemes.

boatrocker July 14, 2014 - 2:10 am

Maybe like not designing every building to resemble a video game construct? I agree.

luther blissett July 14, 2014 - 3:19 pm

It’s been discussed in architecture threads here before, but I’ll repeat it: it’s not really possible to build to the scale and standards of early 1900s buildings. The core skills used to build them, and that were once widespread and relatively cheap are now niche and expensive.

You can come up with a pastiche of that style — poured concrete structure, Deco-ish fascia — but it’ll look like a film set. Biltmore Park’s a good example of that.

Doesn’t mean that the modern template needs to be “parking deck with whatever on top”.

boatrocker July 14, 2014 - 5:29 pm

Sad but true.

hauntedheadnc July 14, 2014 - 5:47 pm

It’s certainly possible to build to the scale, and as for the standards… The 19th Century had it’s own form of poured concrete: cast iron. You could buy entire building facades made of it out of a catalog.

Big Al July 15, 2014 - 12:20 am

“’s not really possible to build to the scale and standards of early 1900s buildings.”

Assuming you are correct, can’t we still do better than the Aloft or this shoebox?

boatrocker July 15, 2014 - 9:33 pm

Agreed. But heaven forbid I or anyone complain about new monstrosities downtown.

Shhh, don’t argue in front of the tourist $.

Jank July 12, 2014 - 3:49 pm

holy crap…

you think property values will hopefully go up..

prices sure will… snatch ’em while you can!

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