Word on the street: Gas station just north of downtown Asheville sold, hotel planned


A gas station and adjoining eatery at the corner of Merrimon Avenue and Elm Street have been sold, according to a billboard sign posted outside the location, which is home to an Exxon gas station and convenience store, as well as the adjoining 51 Grille eatery. Loyal reader Kevin sent in this photo (photo shot by Megan Welch). The sign reads:

Closing after 30 yrs

Sold to hotel chain

The property is adjacent to a vacant Elm Street lot that a hotel operator had planned to build a five-story, 104-room Towne Place Suites hotel. (Elm Street essentially doubles as an Interstate 240 off-ramp and intersects Merrimon.) The Asheville Citizen-Times reported recently that plans for the Towne Place hotel had been dropped. From the story:

Asheville Property Inc., of Greensboro, was the listed developer with the same address as the CN Hotels company. Messages sent Monday evening to the phone and e-mail listed on city planning documents were not returned.

The property is a lot once occupied by restaurants behind 51 Grill. Developers were making a conditional zoning request because the building would have been bigger than what is allowed under the zoning Community Business II. They were also requesting a higher amount of impervious surface to be allowed.

The gas station property next to Staples on Merrimon Avenue has been for sale for months. It was listed for sale for $1.9 million. The 51 Grille eatery adjacent to the gas station convenience store has been a local favorite, especially for its late-night food offerings.



Born and raised November 22, 2015 - 8:54 am

NFB is correct. “They” say a true local is happy for growth because we remember downtown as a ghost town. With literal tumble weeds. Our parents or grandparents telling us not to go down there without an adult. My mom still doesn’t believe the fine arts theater plays regular movies lol. While I’m excited about growth, I’m not giving as many eye rolls to hotels as I am breweries. So.over.breweries. I’m not crazy super excited over the new hotels either because I’m noticing that I can’t go eat anywhere downtown without a 2 hour wait unless I can manage some crazy off time. 🙁 long gone are the days that you could park in those lesser known parking spaces and run up to a restaurant and get seated after 30 mins.

Amber November 20, 2015 - 8:03 pm

I’m sorry to write this, but Asheville sucks. I have lived here for years and years and agree that Asheville is completely different. I believe we lost our “charm” a long time ago. We’re just another dump city that is too expensive. Asheville is way overrated.

mountaingirl November 19, 2015 - 5:08 pm

Woodlenz, I should not have made assumptions about where you were from, that wasn’t cool. I don’t know you, you don’t know me, we are just avatars commenting on a blog. I have no right to tell anyone what to do with their property, nobody does. The central thesis of my argument is that we as a community do have the power to speak up and try to ask for more intentional development. I don’t think having 12 hotels or whatever it is in a 2 mile radius helps the working class people who are trying to make a living here. While office space isn’t a popular idea, I just wish that the industry that was coming here helped the people who actually want to make a life here. I’m sure we all have friends in the hospitality industry, a lot of them work several jobs…what is the purpose of living in a beautiful place that you can’t afford to live in and that you never see because you are just trying to make ends meet working multiple jobs? It’s a free market, I just wish that one of these proposed hotels would even just be mixed use facilities. That’s all I’m saying. I don’t think I’m some princess who gets to deem what property goes where, I just think as a community we can demand better for our comrades. Maybe one day I will run for city council, until then I will speak my mind on blogs and to people just like you’re doing. The gas station is in no way historic, I never said that it was but what is happening on Eagle street is, what happened where the aloft was, I’ve always felt that the coolest parts of Asheville exist because we were too poor to revamp our downtown, I like the old stuff and I wish that we could try to recycle those buildings instead of tearing them down. That’s just me, additionally I agree that traffic-wise it’s a terrible place for a hotel.

B.C.W- I am there with you, I’m from here, moved away and then came back and it’s frustrating to see those lists and see what it is to really live here. Sometimes I feel like we live in Brooklyn or L.A with how competitive housing/jobs are. I read this article recently and it really frustrated me, as someone who is trying to buy their first home (and lucky to be doing so) http://www.citizen-times.com/longform/news/local/2015/11/14/silver-tsunami-retirees-set-change-asheville/75107094/

This will really frustrate some young professionals and working class people. It’s all part of it I guess, our marketing and these transient rich people taking over.

hauntedheadnc November 20, 2015 - 6:40 pm

“The gas station is in no way historic, I never said that it was but what is happening on Eagle street is, what happened where the aloft was, I’ve always felt that the coolest parts of Asheville exist because we were too poor to revamp our downtown, I like the old stuff and I wish that we could try to recycle those buildings instead of tearing them down. That’s just me, additionally I agree that traffic-wise it’s a terrible place for a hotel.”

Where the Aloft now stands was a suburban-style standalone restaurant, and before the restaurant was there, guess what was on that site…

A hotel, and a rather large one at that. Same story where the AC Hotel is going up. The eight-story Langren Hotel was torn down for a parking deck, and now that parking deck has been torn down for the nine-story AC Hotel.

Meanwhile, down on The Block, the mixed use development is preserving and incorporating historic facades, while the Foundry Inn by Hilton is the only reason its historic structures will be preserved. The church that owned them was not maintaining them and could not afford the taxes, and it wasn’t very long ago that there was a plan to tear those old buildings down completely. As things stand now, they’ll be gentrified beyond recognition, but they’ll still be standing, which is a win in my book.

Born and raised November 22, 2015 - 9:01 am

Thanks – was racking my brain trying to remember what was there before Aloft…then I remembered hotdog King!

indie499 November 25, 2015 - 2:26 pm

LOL, historic apparently doesn’t mean what you think it does. Aloft as build on a lot featuring a hot dog tiny “restaurant” and a trash strewn pot holed chain link fenced parking lot.

If by historic, you mean something existed there before, then everything is historic.

Mountaingirl November 28, 2015 - 12:53 pm

I was talking about the hotel that was there before. No need to be a douche.

Toon Army November 19, 2015 - 12:28 pm

Asheville jumped the shark 10 years ago. Suck it up and accept the fact that we have brought this on ourselves.
Enron was “too big to fail”
Asheville was “too cool to fail”

hauntedheadnc November 18, 2015 - 10:55 pm

The Citizen-Times story notes that the owner of this gas station has been trying to unload it since 2007:

“I’ve been here for 30 years on this corner,” Vail said, standing in the 51 Grill eatery, which sits on a 0.7-acre site. “I’ve been trying to sell this place since ’07.”


jtroop November 18, 2015 - 4:57 pm

That’s a very weird spot, even for a gas station. My guess is that they would direct out-going traffic either north (right) on Merrimon or east onto Elm. There is not enough space to allow an exit at the light on Elm (so that traffic could turn left at the light on Merrimon).

That’s gonna be a hard place to walk into town from as well. I’m not against (another) hotel in general, but that space seems very ill suited for that use given the fact that traffic is a real mess there…

IceNine November 20, 2015 - 6:59 am

Actually, if you go east on Elm, you can walk down Central Ave, under 240 to get downtown quite easily.

jtroop November 20, 2015 - 10:05 am

I see what you mean, but still, they are going to have to do something with that weird exit ramp. Even now, it is a bit weird how Elm has to yield left while some of the highway traffic is trying to change right in order to turn right onto Merrimon.

Free Food November 18, 2015 - 4:05 pm

I heard everything was on sale at the gas station including booze. Buy one get one free!

Jess November 18, 2015 - 3:54 pm

Interesting… Nothing is showing up in the Register of Deeds yet, so it hasn’t closed yet (as of 4:00 on 11/18).

Woodlenz November 18, 2015 - 3:31 pm

Cue the doomsday scenarios. Already we have politicians like Gordon Smith pandering to those afraid of the big evil developers. Vowing to save us from their clutches. Really guys? Next we’ll be burning them at the stake like the Salem witch trials. We can do better than this. Enough with the over the top hysteria. The mere mention of the word hotel and people go into in a panic except when it benefits the homestay folks. I guess that’s the new buzz word to generate mayhem.

mountaingirl November 18, 2015 - 4:04 pm

If you care at all about the charm of this town, and what this town has been and is becoming you are not representing yourself well here. It’s a serious problem, these spaces could be converted into places that are much more intentional for OUR community. It’s the laissez faire attitudes of people like you who moved here 2 years ago from some kind of Charlotte or Atlanta type city that doesn’t help the cause. We live in a very special place and there need to be some safe guards to preserve what we have or Asheville will just become a massive tangier outlet mall in Myrtle Beach or Gatlinburg.Our city council and historic resources committee need to actually do their jobs for once instead of falling over themselves to get money that won’t benefit infrastructure or positive development…it just benefits the fat cats at the TDA (who make near 200k a year) who are creating this problem. Development is going to happen and maybe some of us will be nostalgic for losing a late night, drunken food staple, but we need spaces that will bring in good jobs, that promote small business growth, the arts, education. Nobody needs another effing hotel.

Woodlenz November 18, 2015 - 4:26 pm

It would help if you would get your facts together before spewing your BS and over exaggerations. It weakens your argument. You don’t know me and you don’t get to tell me or anyone else what they get to do with their property. As a lifelong resident of Asheville, not that it matters, I remember when this place was losing population. Remember that period? We live in a city which happens to be the economic hub of WNC. Cities are generally urban in nature. We just happen to live in a beautiful city surrounded by protected national and state parks. Get over yourself if you think this conversion of a commercial property signals the doom of this city. Since you’re such an expert on what city council should be doing, then got off your ass and run for office instead moaning about the destruction of Asheville on this blog.

hauntedheadnc November 18, 2015 - 5:00 pm

“Our city council and historic resources committee need to actually do their jobs for once…”

What, exactly, about this gas station is historic?

Been There, Seen That November 18, 2015 - 5:38 pm

I’ve seen some EPIC drug deals in that parking lot… seems pretty historic to me.

NFB November 18, 2015 - 6:12 pm

While I agree with much of what mountaingirl says I think she overstates the case when she blames the problem on people who “moved here 2 years ago from some kind of Charlotte or Atlanta type city.”

In my experience it is people who “moved here 2 years ago from some kind of Charlotte or Atlanta type city” who complain most about growth as if it was perfectly OK for them to move here but not for anyone else to do so.

b.c.w. November 19, 2015 - 11:28 am

Actually, it’s more likely that the people who are really irked and are speaking oure are people like me who have been here a decade or more, have been working to make a living here, and who have been part of Asheville’s cultural and economic fabric for years, who know that Asheville was pretty vibrant and cool in its own way before all the Top 10 list and hotel mayhem started. The people who have only been here for maybe 2 years have no concept of what Asheville used to be like… they just know what their Top 10 List Tourist Manifesto tells them.

b.c.w. November 19, 2015 - 11:32 am

… that should have been *’speaking out’. Typo monster strikes again.

Big Al November 18, 2015 - 7:47 pm

The “charm of this town” disappeared with the construction of the umpteenth brewery and the trash and vomit-ridden sidewalks that followed, not the hotels.

Jenny November 19, 2015 - 11:19 am

Yes, I can’t tell you how many times..well, about 10 at least, I have driven home at night and saw people puking on the sidewalks. Seems like Asheville is a destination to get wasted more than anything else. More than anything historic or nature related. We have a beer bicycle tour, now that is annoying.
I had to avoid a man walking down the yellow line on Coxe and right before that saw a man staggering down the sidewalk. I really don’t care what people do with their liver but if I run over you because you are drunk, I’m sorry.

standingfox November 19, 2015 - 8:05 pm

Wait till there are hundreds of bachelor and bachelor-ette partying boys and gals trashing the motel rooms, puking in neighbors yards and hanging out and acting out on the porches of the Battery Park senior Residences when Asheville goes from being a place that has small local breweries that supply jobs and allow people to sample a taste before having a pint or 2 and walking around to another food,beer or music destination to a destination after stocking up on bottles of liquor at the ABC store to get as outta control as their money and entitlement convinces them is cool..I can see a real conflict between them and the people that get off the tour buses for a stroll around the grove arcade and gripe that there should be a big mc donalds or perhaps a cracker barrel in the grove arcade instead of the great choices we have there now..Is it true that Duke Energy now has the main lease on The arcade ??

Big Al November 20, 2015 - 5:11 am

I actually had some young bum sitting on the sidewalk ask me for “a dollar for a beer” recently.

Not food. Not shelter. Not medicine. A beer.

At least he was honest. Pathetic, but honest.

Been There, Seen That November 22, 2015 - 10:51 am

‘Scuse me…. mav a dolla?

b.c.w. November 18, 2015 - 2:24 pm

Absolutely insane. I had some hope for a little sanity with this hotel business when the Town Place Suites thing got shut down. I hope they seriously rework the off-ramp and traffic flow in general right there if they are going to put a damn hotel on that real estate. It has always been a dangerous ramp/intersection, but now with (potential) construction traffic and existing traffic, Merrimon Ave is going to get even more congested. 20lbs of crap in a 5lb bag.

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