Remake of Asheville’s BB&T office building into condos, boutique hotel gets early OK


The massive job of remaking the 19-story tall BB&T office building in downtown Asheville into a building that’s home to new retail space, offices, condos and a boutique hotel cleared its first hurdle Monday. The new complex will be called the Vandre Nouveau Hotel.

The Asheville Technical Review Committee gave its initial go-ahead to plans that will widen sidewalks, eliminate some on-street parking and remake the plaza space at the front of the building, space that fronts Asheville’s city-center Pack Square. The BB&T building is the city’s tallest edifice and largest office building.

The remodeling will require the removal of the entire shell of the building. The renovation of some 200,868 square feet of space will create 133 hotel rooms and 39 residential condos; two new restaurants; retail and office space. If you would like an impressive office space like this then take a look at A new three-level parking deck will be built on the space adjacent to the building that is now a surface parking lot.

City TRC officials reviewed basic plans for sidewalks, landscaping and fire access. There was no discussion of the design of the new building. These plans will go before the Asheville Downtown Commission next, then on to the Asheville Planning & Zoning Commission and finally to Asheville City Council for approval.

Representatives of the hotel, which is owned by John McKibbon of McKibbon Hotel Group said they have not yet hired a general contractor for the work. There was no discussion of when work might begin, but the McKibbon reps said construction would last 12 to 16 months. McKibbon is currently building a new hotel, the AC Hotel, on a former parking deck near the BB&T building at the corner of College and Broadway. The McKibbon folks have said they plan to build that hotel first before starting on the BB&T/Vandre Nouveau Hotel remake.

Most of the discussion on Tuesday was about the removal of a couple of on-street parking spaces on Patton Avenue, the planned widening of sidewalks around the building, and the remodeling of the wide plaza in front of the BB&T that faces Pack Square Park. McKibbon reps said that during construction, the sidewalks alongside the building on Patton, Lexington and College would be closed during construction, with the sidewalk on Broadway partially closed.


There will be more details coming, and much more discussion, as these plans work their way through the approval process.


Nathan Jones November 10, 2015 - 2:11 pm

This ambitious BBT Club Nouveau could be a bellweather and barometer on whether the economy is really back or is this just another real estate fad and bubble. Are the US Feds raising interest rates? Will the bubbly money pouring out of the inflated US stock market continue? Will China’s Bubble Economy rain on the US’ parade? This BBT Club Nouveau project depends on the Party and Bubbles staying around at least 3 more years. If the US party (not the Asheville party) ends, the BBT Club Nouveau project tanks. If things get tight nationally, McKibbon will skimp costs on the exterior, the skimping and the use of cheaper materials will also reflect economic conditions. It’s the national economy/Party that’s pumping the national Bubble that’s fueling the local real estate bubble in Asheville.

Barry Summers November 5, 2015 - 12:08 pm

It looks like they took their moms Buick and slapped a spoiler and some pinstripes on it.

Sorry, a slab is still a slab.

The Real World November 4, 2015 - 10:35 pm

My Gawd, this whole comment thread just cracked me up.

And, thanks alot…now I will never not think of that building as the Luther Vandross Hotel!

Tommi Crow November 3, 2015 - 7:29 pm

With wonderful weather we’re nearly year round, and fantastic views why do none of these new hotels have any balconies? What a waste. I would pay $100 more a night for a room with a balcony

Former Reporter at WYPN November 3, 2015 - 8:29 pm

Insurance and liability.

hauntedheadnc November 3, 2015 - 8:59 pm

That and the risk of suicides. You would be astonished at the number of attempted and successful suicides that occur in the motels and hotels of Asheville and all the areas nearby. I work at a crummy little chain motel and we’ve had one successful and three attempts at our place in the last decade.

Without balconies, at least if you’re taking the eternal powder, you don’t run the risk of taking a clot of pedestrians out with you when you hit the pavement.

Murphy November 4, 2015 - 7:51 am

I believe earlier reports did include “balconies” in the re-build…
they will be recessed into the building…

Sarah November 3, 2015 - 6:16 pm

Love it! What a great addition to downtown Asheville! I hope I can snatch up one of those apartments!

jtroop November 3, 2015 - 4:55 pm

I will continue to refer to it as the BB&T building just to confuse the tourists. Also because “Vandre Nouveau” sounds like douche fragrance.

NFB November 3, 2015 - 8:00 pm

I still refer to it as the Northwestern Bank Building.

Tim Peck November 3, 2015 - 4:54 pm

Sounds wonderful.

Mark November 3, 2015 - 4:16 pm

This could be really cool. Imagine a top deck resturaunt with an amazing view; and more downtown parking!

Murphy November 3, 2015 - 4:06 pm

The transition from “Beer City” to “Hotel City” has begun….

weavervilleman November 3, 2015 - 8:25 pm

BRING IT. Id rather have my Hotels than Drunks ANYDAY!

hauntedheadnc November 3, 2015 - 9:00 pm

Those drunks you refer to are staying at the hotels. I know from bitter experience working at hotels and motels in this area.

Big Al November 8, 2015 - 3:32 pm

Now you get both.

orulz November 3, 2015 - 4:00 pm

It looks like the rather subdued and graceful design you have included with this article has been replaced by something utterly hideous.

Basically, when the renderings like the ones you attached to this article were released, showing something glassy and modern, it was an improvement over the old design but at the same time it was a design more or less in keeping with the form of the building itself. Generally speaking, I was relieved. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the cornice thingy at the top but overall, the design was fairly classy and pretty good, definitely not as terrible as I had feared.

However, Somebody must have reminded them that “Hey, this is Asheville, we are known for art deco! so throw some art deco-y crap in there!”

And this is the design-by-committe crap that we wind up with as a result.

This is not at all like that “Ellington” tower proposed at Biltmore & Aston a few years ago. That was not a perfect art deco design by any means but at least its attempts at historicism worked on some levels. But putting some art deco-ish details and appending a pointless pinnacle onto a shapeless rectangular box like the BB&T is absolutely the wrong way to go.

BB&T was designed as a rectangular modern building.

Curious November 3, 2015 - 7:31 pm

Where can readers see the new design you refer to?

orulz November 3, 2015 - 9:39 pm

Click the word ‘this’ in my post.

As if the “updated” architecture of the tower isn’t bad enough, the lot behind the BB&T where the drive through and a small parking lot is today gets, wait for it, a single level parking deck, rather like the one at Indigo Hotel, except smack in the center of downtown rather than bordering on a freeway.

Murphy November 4, 2015 - 7:54 am

There is also a garage planned in that smallish lot across College street between the Green Sage and that building that houses a soap company…

orulz November 4, 2015 - 8:59 am

That wasn’t covered in the TRC review documents as far as I can see. I had heard that they planned something there.

Color me extremely disappointed that they took one very prominent ugly garage and replaced it with a hotel (AC Hotel) but then are adding (evidently now) two more prominent ugly garages right in the center of town.

I would have thought that a location like the block facing Lexington, College, and Patton would deserve better.

I hate the new design of the tower, but even that I can take, but the lame ass parking garages are just too much.

hauntedheadnc November 4, 2015 - 5:37 pm

The Citizen-Times article is saying the deck that replaces the lot will be three levels, and that the College Street frontage will have retail spaces.

I still think that if they use the right materials, it will end up looking good. I’m feeling good about increased retail spaces to liven up that dead zone along College, and a three level deck is better than an open parking lot. Anything would be.

orulz November 5, 2015 - 9:09 am

The college street frontage of the building, not the deck, will have retail.

The deck will be a pure unadulterated piece of crap with faux deco accents.

orulz November 5, 2015 - 9:15 am

Three levels with a separate entrance for each level.

Three curb cuts for the price of one!

Seriously, I don’t care that the curb cuts are existing. Could this deck get any worse?

A spot like this deserves to have a mid rise building and retail on all sides, seriously.

Curious November 5, 2015 - 9:18 am

Thanks for that link. Hard to assess from the technical drawings. Have they issued a layperson-friendly rendering?

hauntedheadnc November 3, 2015 - 9:03 pm

Doesn’t seem all that bad to me… but that would depend on whether or not they use quality materials. Now if we could get them to add on some Frank Lloyd Wright-esque sprites, we’d be talking something classy.

luther blissett November 4, 2015 - 1:06 am

As I said in the previous thread about the Luther Vandross or whatever they’re calling it, every large scale architectural project in recent years — most of which are glorified parking lots — has been butt ugly.

I’m not holding out much hope for this one to use quality materials or techniques. It’ll most likely look like a Charlotte beige cube tarted up with painfully faux deco trimmings, and would be better off as an entry in the GPI’s gingerbread house competition.

jtroop November 4, 2015 - 9:02 am

Luther Vandross!!! PERFECT!!!

hauntedheadnc November 4, 2015 - 5:36 pm

The Citizen-Times article about the project says they’ll be using “masonry, cast stone, steel and glass,” which sounds a lot better than the styrofoam stucco preferred architects of the Charlotte Boring style.

jtroop November 4, 2015 - 9:01 am

Wow! You’re right! I too liked the previous design much better! That thing is ridiculous!

brian anderson November 3, 2015 - 3:49 pm


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