Renovation to Asheville’s BB&T properties set to begin


Here’s the press release:

MHG-Tower LLC has decided to begin the redevelopment of the BB&T properties on the site of the existing parking deck on Broadway and College streets. The first phase of the overall redevelopment process will include a new parking garage, a hotel and retail, according to John McKibbon, Chairman of the McKibbon Hotel Group.

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.

“The BB&T Tower has been a signature part of the Asheville skyline for the past 50 years. Transforming it inside and out will ensure that it continues to provide both visual and functional value in the heart of downtown for many years to come,” McKibbon said.

So you got that, folks? The plan is for a 120-room AC Hotel by Marriott at the corner of College and Broadway, where a parking garage sits now. After that, the BB&T will be renovated to include a boutique hotel with 150-170 rooms there.

ADD: To answer a question about timing, a spokesman says:

Jason: The project has to be approved by P&Z (not City Council) and that process has not yet begun. That should be completed sometime this year and work will start immediately thereafter, with approximately 18 months until completion.

Here’s background on the sale of the BB&T building. More background here on McKibbon and the BB&T.




Das Drew April 5, 2014 - 1:46 pm

I’ve always liked the looks of the BB&T building. Kinda reminds me of the monoliths in 2001.

Ryan April 3, 2014 - 11:54 pm

I agree with the comments regarding the need for more affordable housing opportunities in downtown, but I find it interesting that no one in this thread has mentioned that a few blocks away on Eagle St. is a large project that will be over 60 affordable housing apartments geared to the downtown/Asheville work force being built by Mountain Housing. Plus it is a project that seems to be working with some of the traditional design elements of the pre-existing buildings. I know we need more but I have to say that the Eagle St. project is a nice start. Just saying.

Matt April 4, 2014 - 8:56 am

That sounds awesome. I’d love to learn more about that.

Matt April 3, 2014 - 5:24 pm

Hotels are hard to trust. They provide low wage positions and don’t add to the culture of a city. They do indeed bring in lots of tourists who spend lots of money…but on what? The problem is that Asheville’s main industry is tourism, and we have a love/hate relationship with it. It makes us feel territorial but proud. We don’t always trust what they spend their money on ( sure, they buy art, but not good art, not visionary art!) sure “they” love “our” mountains,, but then “They” buy one and cover it with investment homes….

I wish there was a more gratifying and less threatening industry than tourism to fuel our economy….

orulz April 3, 2014 - 5:16 pm

Any word yet on the plans for the parking lot next to Green Sage, or the small parking lot on the same block as the BB&T? These were both supposedly part of the deal, too.

Jtroop April 3, 2014 - 8:49 am

…like congestion downtown is a bad thing. More people means more opportunities for downtown businesses. Think of all the folks pouring out of the new hotels and into all of our home grown restaurants, bars and shops. Urban growth (downtown) is what we need rather than sprawl.

This type of development is also just plain interesting to watch… Crains, steel, hustle, bustle… all that!

JTC April 3, 2014 - 9:51 am

but where are the people who work in these places going to live? there is no affordable housing in Asheville. That’s what we really need.

hauntedheadnc April 3, 2014 - 4:04 pm

Where do you suggest putting affordable housing? Any time anyone tries to build some, the NIMBY-American community practically riots in the streets over the very thought that *those* people might be coming to their neighborhood.

ashevillain April 3, 2014 - 4:27 pm

Please give some examples of affordable housing projects in Asheville that were abandoned because of NIMBYism.

hauntedheadnc April 3, 2014 - 4:45 pm

As I recall, that project in Chestnut Hill was downsized due to neighbor complaints that it (unlike all the other nearby apartment complexes) would be out of scale with the area. If I remember correctly, in fact, it was downsized to the point that the affordable component was dropped altogether in order to make building it at all profitable to the developer. I also recall the ranting and raving over the Larchmont, which did get built but not without a fight.

Please give me some examples of affordable housing projects that were welcomed with open arms when proposed in Asheville.

ashevillain April 3, 2014 - 6:45 pm

Wow. That’s not very many examples. Do you think maybe it’s just your perception or maybe an exaggeration that NIMBYism is rampant?

I’d say pretty much every one of the MHO properties was welcomed with open arms with the exception of Larchmont.

hauntedheadnc April 3, 2014 - 9:51 pm

You really think Asheville’s NIMBYism is merely my perception? Oh, you…

I remember Elaine Lite pitching a royal fit over the *renovation* of what is now Capital Center, lest their balconies blot out the sun. I remember one of her arguments was that furniture or fixtures on those balconies might tumble to the street below, endangering pedestrians. When you’re to the point that you’re fighting renovation — not new construction, but renovation of an existing structure — your NIMBYism is gem-quality.

I remember that before the economic downturn of 2008, every large proposal for downtown was fought tooth and nail, including a proposal to build a tower originally proposed in the 1920’s.

I remember that NIMBY’s fought the new county office building, which is about six or seven floors were shaved off in the transition from rendering to actual building.

I remember that every hotel proposal before the downturn was fought, most particularly the Ellington.

I remember that the Zona Lofts proposal was fought.

I remember that a condo building proposed for the corner of Hilliard and Biltmore was fought.

I remember that the Ravenscroft residential project was fought.

I remember that some people in West Asheville are *still* fighting New Belgium, lest an industrial venture might provide jobs and — God forbid! — bring traffic to their neighborhood.

Don’t even try that crap with me, man. Asheville’s NIMBY’s will fight *anything*. Not just affordable housing. Anything. It’s no one’s perception. It’s the truth.

ashevillain April 4, 2014 - 10:37 am

I personally don’t have any ideas about what you’re perception is. I was just asking a question.

You’ve clearly gone off on a huge tangent and can’t answer the question I originally posed, so I’ve lost interest.

hauntedheadnc April 4, 2014 - 12:30 pm

I gave you all those instances of NIMBYism run amok and that didn’t answer your question? Wow. That’s willful ignorance, I believe.

JTC April 4, 2014 - 9:26 am

All of these luxury lofts going up around town. I used to live on Edgewood off of south charlotte street. They tore down all the woods beside the soccer field to build a giant apartment complex of tiny apartments that are so unaffordable and the requirements to live in them are totally insane. That space when I was growing up was government housing, families lived there, it was affordable. There are apartments going up all around town but its the super wealthy retirees who live here for four months who can afford them, its not the people who want to make a life here. It’s a shame that families cannot afford to live in Asheville and they’re forced to send their kids to canton elementary school. I realize I am not an expert and do not understand what goes into making an affordable housing unit happen but surely someone out there can stop being so greedy and selfish for a moment in their lives to actually come into this community and address what their problems are, invest in the community rather than seizing its assets and running away to the bank.

JTC April 4, 2014 - 9:31 am

A valid point about eagle street. 60 units is a good start. Lets hope they are truly going to be affordable.

Timothy April 5, 2014 - 9:21 am

“Asheville’s NIMBY’s will fight *anything*. Not just affordable housing.”
You just disproved your point with that admission.

Bill T. April 3, 2014 - 5:41 am

McKibbons– a fine people who don’t live here and don’t have to experience the congestion their hotels bring to downtown. Sure that deck is an eyesore but now the BBT building loses’s going to make going downtown a real dang blast.

Asheville is becoming the new Gatlinburg.

Frank April 3, 2014 - 10:06 am

What hysterical nonsense.

Jason W. April 3, 2014 - 10:11 am

At least Pigeonburg has go-carts and water parks.

Z April 3, 2014 - 10:49 am

Fun Depot and Brevard? HELLO???

hauntedheadnc April 3, 2014 - 4:06 pm

So, I’m thinking here that you would prefer the congestion stay on Tunnel Road, West Patton, Smokey Park, Airport Road, and Hendersonville Road where it belongs? That’s a new philosophy for Asheville, which spent millions of dollars and decades of time to bring downtown back to life after it dropped dead in the 70’s. To think that they should have let it rot… revolutionary!

hauntedheadnc April 2, 2014 - 4:00 pm

On the admittedly wee screen of my phone that rendering looks amazing, like they’re basically planning to rebuild the Langren Hotel. I hope it looks as nice on a big screen… and even nicer in person, naturally.

luther blissett April 2, 2014 - 4:49 pm

Not really. The Langren had street-level stuff on both of its outward-facing sides. This design doesn’t.

Assuming that the front is on Broadway, it’s going to be a shallow lobby/atrium with elevators to room level, and that stretch of College behind the back of the Biltmore building is still going to be pretty oppressive and charmless, because it’s mostly parking deck like the street-level back and sides of the Aloft, except without Aston Street’s steeper downward slope.

So: that design is for a parking deck with a hotel slapped on top. Better than what’s there now, but not hugely so, and a reminder that McKibbon is a parking-deck builder with a side business in hotels.

hauntedheadnc April 2, 2014 - 8:25 pm

If you take a closer look at the rendering, you’ll see there’s a retail spot facing onto College, just like the one facing onto Broadway.

Again, it strikes me as basically a redo of the Langren, and much better than that godawful piece of dreck there now. Anything is better than that awful parking deck.

AVLHistory April 2, 2014 - 10:29 pm

While it’s a pleasing replacement for the eyesore of a parking deck, this rendering design is in no way as classically designed or aesthetically pleasing as The Langren hotel. Stay classy Asheville.

In Asheville’s heydey we had plenty of grand hotels, most of them are gone now and the few that are left have been converted into tiny apartments and lofts downtown – a lot of them for the elderly on fixed incomes. Hotels are all well and good but our community needs more affordable housing for the residents who will be working and serving our fair tourists in these establishments. That and a museum so people can remember our history clearly.

hauntedheadnc April 3, 2014 - 4:09 pm

If you’re going to fret that a new building is not a clone of an old building, I fear you’re going to weep alone. Although, such could be accomplished if the developers were willing to spend a few hundred million more on the development… My point was, though, that here’s a hotel on the site of a former hotel, replacing the hideous parking deck that they tore the first hotel down to build. No, it’s not going to look exactly like the Langren, and I don’t expect it to. America as a whole can’t build anything as nice as it used to, but what’s planned for this site really is the next best thing to having never lost the Langren Hotel.

Murphy April 3, 2014 - 9:01 am

The coverage in the CT and on WLOS both stated that there would be retail spaces at street level on College Street and Broadway…

luther blissett April 3, 2014 - 5:54 pm

The retail space is on the corner of College and Broadway, and would definitely improve on the current corner. But most of the street level along College to Market looks like parking deck and stairwell on that rendering, with the faint hint of something at the far corner. You still wouldn’t want to walk down it.

luther blissett April 2, 2014 - 3:47 pm

I’m assuming that’s a mockup for the hotel planned for the current lot, and not the BB&T itself.

The idea of an “extensive external redesign” to the BB&T is depressing. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but as was discussed in Jason’s linked posts, it’s an honest International-style building and should be largely left that way. McKibbon has the marooned cruise ship that is the Aloft along with its other mockups to show what it thinks is appropriate for building exteriors in Asheville, and it ain’t pretty: lots of concrete boxes with cheap finishes.

LEW April 2, 2014 - 8:33 pm

Sorry, ‘international-style building; or not, it’s bloody ugly. Any change is an improvement.

Murphy April 3, 2014 - 9:04 am

Earlier reports (in the CT and elsewhere) indicated that balconies were a possible addition to the BB&T once the retrofit into hotel/condos was complete.

theOtherBarry April 2, 2014 - 3:28 pm

Oh good. Finally a downtown hotel to fill the gigantic void of hotel rooms.

MC April 2, 2014 - 3:40 pm

Have you ever tried to book a hotel room downtown? With the exception of the winter months, it’s darn near impossible! You have to book months in advance.

theOtherBarry April 2, 2014 - 9:30 pm

Just went on Priceline, and found 39 hotels within Asheville city limts with vacancies for next weekend, including the Aloft, Sheraton, the Indigo, and two B&Bs, all downtown.

Vlad Emrick April 2, 2014 - 3:54 pm

You’re better than that, Barry. That’s a cynical, knee-jerk and simplistic reaction to an investment that will add to the city’s coffers, enhance an eyesore location, and provide new customers for downtown’s many small businesses.

What would you rather see?

theOtherBarry April 2, 2014 - 6:14 pm

Anything else, really. How about apartments that the working people who are supposed to serve all these tourists could afford? I know, that’s crazy insane unrealistic anti-capitalist communist talk. Serfs deserve their hour-long commute or illegal 10-to-a-house lifestyles.

If I’m not mistaken, at last count, there were four new downtown hotels in the pipeline. One more? Wheeeeee…

Vlad Emrick April 2, 2014 - 10:21 pm

Everybody would like to see more affordable housing. But it’s not going there, in that location. To think otherwise is to engage in a flight of fantasy.

You know how many new hotel rooms have been built in the last 20 years in downtown Asheville? 215. That’s it. There have been far more built outside of downtown Asheville, and yet no one uttered a peep about that.

Murphy April 3, 2014 - 9:08 am

One thing is for sure… everyone of these announced new hotels has included a restaurant and bar and several will have additional “retail space”: which, along with the hotels’ staffing needs, will create oodles of new (albeit low-paying) service sector jobs.

Murphy April 3, 2014 - 7:05 pm

not to mention the local construction businesses/workers, etc.

JTC April 3, 2014 - 9:54 am


theOtherBarry April 2, 2014 - 6:21 pm

Oh, but thanks for thinking I’m better than that.

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