Asheville’s downtown hotel building boom: site work for 1 underway, 4 more planned, others possible


I’ve been following Asheville’s developing downtown hotel building boom for awhile now. In light of Wednesday’s announcement about construction plans at the BB&T building complex, I figured it would be a good idea to update all the action that’s planned or rumored.

Here’s a quick look:

-Haywood Street at the intersection of Montford Avenue: This location is the former Three Brothers restaurant site. Demolition of the old restaurant is done and construction should be starting soon. This will be a Hyatt Place hotel, shown above.

-Corner of College Street and South Charlotte Street: The Hilton Garden is a proposed 7-story, 108,220-square-foot hotel. The site is known as 311 College St.

-BB&T building: We learned Wednesday that the plan is for not one, but two, hotels to be built on the BB&T property. The first 120-room hotel will go up at the corner of College and Broadway, where an old parking deck sits now. That will be flagged a AC by Marriott hotel. Once construction is complete, crews will begin renovating the BB&T structure to include a 150-room boutique hotel.

-Corner of Page Avenue and Battery Park Avenue: Tony Fraga, the owner of the Haywood Park Hotel, recently unveiled plans to build a Cambria Suites hotel on the site. Mountain Xpress has details here.


-Biltmore Estate: Rumor only at this point, but word on the street is there is a new hotel in the works for the Biltmore Estate property.  Biltmore recently asked for property rezonings that further indicate something might be in the works.

-196 Patton Ave: Last year, a hotel owner bought this old warehouse and adjacent vacant lot. No announced construction plans.

-Elm Street off Merrimon Avenue: A Greensboro-based company that owns and operates hotels has purchased a parcel of property at 39 Elm St. The location is next to the 51 Grill on Merrimon Avenue, and is known to many as the old location of a Steak and Ale restaurant. More recently, is was La Caterina Trattoria restaurant.


FDR April 3, 2014 - 3:17 pm

I love when people bring up “Affordable Housing”. What they really mean is affordable housing for them, so they can live closer to town and still not have to work a full time job, or sell the BMW, or get rid of the dog, or sell the kayak, and skip concerts, etc.

das drew April 5, 2014 - 1:47 pm

What this guy said… except I work a full time job, don’t own a BMW, and don’t have a dog or kayak. Oh and I might go to the Peel once/year. Any other half-ass assumptions you care to make while your internet bravery is riding high?

Scott April 3, 2014 - 1:46 pm

I’m all for any development that gets the hippies riled up enough to move.

JTC April 3, 2014 - 9:50 am

Also who is going to work in these hotels when there is NO affordable housing in Asheville. I know that folks are hoping that eventually these hotels will turn into apartments but what about right now? It would be super sweet if at least one of these buildings was going to be one affordable housing driving building rather than a random unit in a ritzy new loft apartment

indie April 3, 2014 - 1:22 pm

Downtown is actually the easiest place to attract low wage workers, because of public transportation.

Vlad Emrick April 3, 2014 - 1:45 pm

There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of hotel rooms built outside of downtown in the last couple of decades, and no one has said anything about affordable housing. Not one peep. And many of these are in areas that are not easily accessed by public transportation.

Now someone wants to build a hotel downtown, where very few rooms have been added in the last 20 years and where real estate is most expensive, and everybody starts demanding affordable housing downtown.

It’s telling to me that there’s not one single comment posted on the Ashvegas blog entry written the same day about the MHO development on Eagle Street. Not one.

Are some of you for affordable housing, or against private development?

ashevillain April 3, 2014 - 4:53 pm

Not sure where you’ve been the past couple decades.

Vlad Emrick April 3, 2014 - 6:02 pm

I’ve been here the last two decades, but you miss my point. People only seem to get upset about affordable housing when hotels are proposed for downtown, where real estate is most expensive. That makes no sense whatsoever.

brew_ed April 3, 2014 - 9:49 am

My only concern is what the downtown traffic situation is going to look like. During the last boom, most folks came in at depot street and rode the trolley downtown or had the hotels come pick the up. The extra parking decks for the hotels will help with where to put cars when they’re not being used, but if you’ve driven downtown offer the past couple of summers we will need some serious reworking of traffic patterns at the very least.

Cliff April 3, 2014 - 4:11 pm

“over the past couple of summers”… phone keyboard…

craverecords April 4, 2014 - 10:34 am

By building hotels in downtown, more tourists are able to walk around and leave cars parked. The hotels on Charlotte/College and Haywood/Montford are right off I-240.

brew_ed April 6, 2014 - 3:55 pm

You’re right. That should help. I was thinking about the ones proposed in and next to bb&t. Biltmore and Patton Aves are already bumper to bumper on the weekends without an extra couple hundred cars of visitors. I’m not saying it can’t be overcome, but I hope it will be considered. It took me 17 minutes to get from 240 to Barleys on Broadway/Biltmore last week and we’re not even in peak season yet. I definitely should have walked. Would have been way faster.

Murphy April 3, 2014 - 8:57 am

Wasn’t there also a hotel announced for the “Merita Bread” property on Patton Avenue…

You have to wonder how long it will be before another is announced on the property being vacated by the Buncombe County Sherriff’s Department…

Jason W. April 3, 2014 - 10:07 am

Or the Salvation Army shelter.

craverecords April 4, 2014 - 10:35 am

That’s the 196 property mentioned in the article.

Jtc April 3, 2014 - 7:35 am

Gross, here we go turning into soul-less Charlotte. I’m super disappointed at the lack of ingenuity these developers have. Just some lame ass hotels. None of these douchebags care about this community. Ugh to the tenth power.

Z April 3, 2014 - 10:45 am

Do you even go to Charlotte? It has a ton of awesome stuff if you take the time to look. Pro sports, awesome venues, great restaurants, a cool white water center. You have no clue what you’re talking about.

Foothills Dweller April 3, 2014 - 12:32 pm

I agree Z, I love Charlotte – I spend more time and money there than I do in Asheville. I was raised for 16 years in Asheville after we moved from NY. After reading all of the “get the fuck out of here and go back where you came from, Yankee” comments on this blog though, personally I don’t care if I spend another dime up there. My Drs are up there and my brother lives there, so I like to keep up with local news and happenings. I do think they’re going a little crazy with some developments (like I they build another hotel on Biltmore property – if they fill it up with buildings and take out a lot of the natural surroundings, that would be a travesty).

Foothills Dweller April 3, 2014 - 12:33 pm

**like if they build another… (Typing on a tablet)

Murphy April 3, 2014 - 4:57 pm

With just over 8,000 acres, I’d say the privately owned Estate has plenty of room to add more rooms, or do just about anything else they desire with their property.

luther blissett April 5, 2014 - 3:40 pm

“Pro sports, awesome venues, great restaurants, a cool white water center.”

Pretty weird, though, to be walking just up from the stadium on a non-game-day and see the streets deserted.

But it’s a dumb comparison.

The question is what’s appropriate for a relatively small city in a moderately-sized metropolitan area where, for better or worse, income and jobs mostly come from tourism, healthcare and the service sector. Hotels are going to be a part of it. Decent housing and transportation options are also going to be a part of it. And there needs to be a long-term attempt to build a broader employment base that’s less susceptible to external forces.

indie April 6, 2014 - 10:50 am

Actually, government is a huge employer.

Vlad Emrick April 2, 2014 - 10:30 pm

The real question is, why has it taken so long for there to be a hotel building boom in downtown Asheville. There have been exactly 215 hotel rooms built in the last 20 years in downtown Asheville, yet people are acting like there’s some sort of apocalypse coming. Yet no one said anything when there were hundreds more rooms being built on Tunnel Road or on I-26.

I’m also doubtful that all of these hotels will actually be built. As of today, exactly zero have started construction.

indie April 3, 2014 - 11:31 am

Not true, The 3 brothers sitework has begun.

Murphy April 3, 2014 - 12:00 pm

You do realize that there are “a few hoops” to be jumped through with the folks at City Hall before construction can actually begin…

most of those announced thus far seem to be from pretty well-established developers and all have been specifically linked to national brands; most of which would not allow their names to be associated with “pipe dreams”…

Vlad Emrick April 3, 2014 - 12:17 pm

Some of the projects mentioned in this story, like the hotel on the former Steak & Ale site, have been rumored for years. Not every project that’s announced necessarily gets built, even if there’s a national brand associated with it. Indeed, some won’t ever get built because the developer can’t get financing, or because the plug gets pulled because of excess supply in the market once projects start coming out of the ground.

It’s a race at this point to see what actually gets built in the next few years.

Dude April 5, 2014 - 9:35 am

Vlad – i think you’re seeing the concern people have for downtown. I don’t really care if an H&M or Red Lobster go on Tunnel Rd, but I don’t want them downtown. I understand why the city wants more rooms in town but this does seem a bit much. At peak season there will be thousands more people staying downtown, waititng for the same restaurants, bumping shoulders in the same shops. I’m not sure Avl can support that influx yet.

Also, affordable housing is a major priority for the city. Look at the developments on Eagle st, The old dave steel lot, and the south slope. All are at least talking about affordable rates and are close to downtown. I think it’s unrealistic to think there should be subsidised housing on prime real estate in the center of downtown. Those orther spots are plenty close to walk too. Also, there was a good article recently, i think in the c-t, about the difficulty in creating affordable housing, simply: it’s tough to make money on them.

Das Drew April 2, 2014 - 9:19 pm


Rich April 2, 2014 - 8:07 pm

…Or as I like to call it, “Future small-apartment construction”.

hauntedheadnc April 2, 2014 - 8:24 pm

…Which, frankly, is one of the reasons I wish people would stop bitching about hotels downtown. Hotels are versatile, and if Asheville should decline as a tourist resort town, hotels actually can be converted into something else fairly easily. It’s happened before — how else do you think we got all those highrise apartment buildings downtown?

orulz April 2, 2014 - 8:55 pm

You’re on a roll making good points today, Haunted.

In the past, downtown Asheville had bunches of hotel rooms. more hotel rooms than it does today. Battery park, Altamont, and Vanderbilt apartments were all hotels. So was the Malaprops building. The Langren was torn down in the 1960s to build the parking deck for the BB&T building.

Considering the growing national reputation of downtown Asheville, especially as a mecca for foodies and beer lovers, there will likely be enough demand to fill all these hotels. Downtown is where people want to be.

If anything is going to suffer, it will be the myriad hotels out on Tunnel Road. In a hypothetical world where there are too many rooms in the Asheville area, hotels will drop their prices to attract guests. Given the choice between staying downtown for cheap and Tunnel Road for cheap, I think most people would choose downtown.

And even given all the above, if the downtown hotels fail, boom- cheap apartments and/or condos. Ref: All the above conversions, plus, anybody remember the “Interstate Motel”?

Downtown of the 1950’s ain’t coming back. There is a mall now. Downtown of the 1990s isn’t coming back either, I can understand a degree of nostalgia for that, but it’s a story of gentrification and development that replays time and time again everywhere..

Rich April 2, 2014 - 10:21 pm

I almost believe it’s a devious plan on the part of our city officials. Court tons for-profit hoteliers; wait for peak hotel (or the next real-estate bust); and then hotel rooms naturally become affordable housing with minimal city money on the line. It’s the long game. Or it would be, if someone has thought of it.

ashevillain April 3, 2014 - 4:57 pm

The long game?


ashevillain April 3, 2014 - 4:56 pm

LOL if you think people will be able to stay downtown for cheap.

NFB April 3, 2014 - 8:56 am

Fair point, but it neglects to mention that we don’t need housing downtown 50 years from now, we need housing downtown NOW.

Frank April 3, 2014 - 10:17 am

Why do we *need* downtown housing?

Rich April 3, 2014 - 12:56 pm

Because working downtown and living in Leicester is bad for people’s health, bad for local tax revenues, bad for traffic and pollution. Something like half the work-hours population of Asheville leaves city limits at night. That’s horrible public policy.

theOtherBarry April 3, 2014 - 1:14 pm

Besides, have you ever been to one of those ski towns out west where every single service worker has to live one or two towns over, and they bus them in? It’s gross. It also has the effect of reducing the number of working class people who can vote in the town where they are employed. Decisions more & more are made by people who can afford to live there – the people who fill all those service jobs gradually are disenfranchised and have no say over this kind of development deal. It’s a downward spiral of gentrification that eventually robs a town of the vitality that first attracted people here.

Frank April 3, 2014 - 1:33 pm

I lived in D.C. for four years, so I generally have no sympathy for people who have a fifteen-twenty minute commute to their residence 10 miles away. A lot of downtown workers live in West Asheville / Montford or the Merrimon corridor.

Besides, at what point in the last thirty years has a significant number of workers lived downtown? Did we lose an apartment building without me noticing?

NFB April 3, 2014 - 2:27 pm

I seem to recall that Central Ave lost some apartments a few years back and there was an apartment building on Patton Ave downtown that got converted to some higher end use at around the same time so yes, downtown has lost affordable housing.

Workers living downtown may not have been a big thing over the past 30 years but for a good chuck of those 30 years there wasn’t much downtown at all and the lack of workers living downtown is now a problem.

huh April 2, 2014 - 5:34 pm

5-7 new hotels in the city and yet I, as a city resident, can’t legally rent out a room in my house to tourists. It’s time for that law to change.

Let’s see, Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Cambria Suites, etc. And to think there are still people who say downtown is chain-free.

A Native Ashevillan April 2, 2014 - 4:33 pm

Please stop with all the hotels, uber pricy restaurants and bars downtown! Leave Asheville the way it was, tourists go elsewhere!

weavervilleman April 2, 2014 - 8:22 pm

then tear down the mountains, make it flat, and the tourists will leave asheville for good.

hauntedheadnc April 2, 2014 - 8:28 pm

Do you mean Asheville as it was between 1880 (or thereabouts) and 1930, when it was one of the most prominent resort cities in America? Or do you mean Asheville as it was between 1950 and 1990 when it was a sleepy little backwater with a dying downtown?

Please advise.

Vlad Emrick April 2, 2014 - 10:24 pm

Asheville the way it was? Like before it became a tourist destination in the 1800s? Right? Because Asheville’s been a destination for about 150 years, and there were far more hotels downtown a hundred years ago than there are now.

Z April 3, 2014 - 10:43 am

Yeah yeah…NOT IN MY BACK YARD!!! Heard it all before, many times. Get over it. Times are changing, Asheville is a TOURIST TOWN. That’s what we call the friggin’ baseball team! This will NEVER CHANGE.

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