The general contractor leading construction to turn Asheville’s tallest office building into a building containing condos, a boutique hotel, two independent restaurants and retail space is reaching out to local subcontractors, tradesmen and vendors as the work picks up.
Officials with Cleveland Construction Co., the general contractor on the multi-million dollar project, held an open house at The Orange Peel on Tuesday to reach out to locals. The company estimates that the two-year project will create some 500 construction jobs. The work to remake the 18-story former BB&T office building is the biggest construction project downtown Asheville has seen since the $17 million remake of Pack Square Park. The building has been renamed The Arras.
Cleveland Construction officials are meeting with about 30 subcontractors today at The Orange Peel as remodeling moves forward. Jason E. Ziegler, director of client development for the company, said the project is unique in that “it is essentially a 100 percent custom job.” They will more than likely need the help of other crane hire companies too for multiple cranes on site.
The first phase of interior demolition should be complete by the end of the year, according to Erik S. Rowen, vice president of development for McKibbon Hotel Group. (That demolition includes the removal of a drive through at the rear of the building, where a new parking deck will be built.)
The next phase, which includes dismantling the skin of the building, will begin shortly after the new year, Rowen said. DH Griffin is the contractor on the demolition work. (Side note: a large crane will be moved in to move some heavy equipment off the roof of the building, but the crane’s presence is temporary, according to Rowen.)
John McKibbon, chairman of McKibbon Hospitality, and Tower Associates chairman Glenn W. Wilcox, Sr., the former owner of the building, are partnering on the project after McKibbon bought the building a few years ago. McKibbon’s company is also working on another new downtown hotel, the AC Hotel, just across the street from The Arras.
Rowen noted that work won’t be bid out exclusively to local contractors, but project leaders wanted to reach out, introduce Cleveland Construction Co. to folks and invite locals in apply or bid if they’re interested.
The Arras will be home to a 128-room boutique hotel, two independent restaurants, 54 condominiums and retail space for lease. Ziegler said “this kind of adaptive re-use is our speciality.”
Cleveland Construction has worked with McKibbon on just one other project, the $52 million, dual-branded AC Hotel and Residence Inn by Marriott in Charlotte. The 22-story hotel tower features two hotels with a total of 300 rooms. Last year, Cleveland Construction opened a new office in Charlotte as the Ohio-based company’s business expanded.
The most visible work to be done on the former BB&T building will strip away the structure’s old skin and replace it with a new exterior that enlivens its profile. Ziegler said the skinning process “is actully a fairly simple process,” with the dismantling done from the inside. The complicated new facade will include slab extensions and a stone veneer, he said.
“We’ll start from the bottom and work our way up,” he said.
Ziegler noted the “super unique aspects” of the project. For example, reclaimed wood will be used throughout the building on wall and ceiling panels and headboards, he said. As another example, he said the lobbies will include custom column covers and wraps.
Christopher Perryman of Goldsplinter Woodworking Studio in Asheville came out on Tuesday to meet The Arras project officials. Perryman, who specializes in custom, fine woodworking in residential homes, said he was looking for opporunities. He said that when the Aloft Hotel, another McKibbon project, was built in downtown Asheville several years ago, he was in communication with a hotel representative about supplying wooden salt boxes and cutting boards. The email exchange never led to a job, but Perryman said he wanted to try again.
“My world is mostly nice residential stuff, but I want to see if I can dosomething on a bigger scale,” he said.
Ziegler said Cleveland Construction will likely hold another open house in the new year. He said that a call for artists to apply will also come as the project moves forward.