BB&T and McKibbon team up for remake of iconic Asheville office building

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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The BB&T building in downtown Asheville/ photo by Jason Sandford

The BB&T building in downtown Asheville/ photo by Jason Sandford

Talk about a game-changer. WOW! Rumors of the BB&T’s sale have been floating for quite awhile. And for obvious reasons. The downtown office building has been a shadow of its former self. It looks like John McKibbon is placing a real bet on Ashvegas. Press release:

Tower Associates Inc., owner of the BB&T Building, has formed a partnership with the McKibbon Hotel Group to redevelop the city’s tallest building from commercial office space to a mixed-use development that will include an upscale boutique hotel, according to Tower Associates Chairman of the Board Glenn W. Wilcox Sr. and McKibbon Hotel Group Chairman John McKibbon.

Properties included in the new partnership, MHG-Tower LLC, include the 17-story BB&T Building and the associated parking garage at the corner of College and Broadway streets. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.

Glenn W. Wilcox Sr.’s company Wilcox Travel was one of the first tenants when the building opened in 1965 as the Northwestern Bank Building, and Wilcox has been in the building continually for 48 years.

“I moved to Asheville from Boone in September 1965, the same month that what is now the BB&T Building opened. I’m pleased to be partnering with John McKibbon on this exciting project. I have great respect for John and am looking forward to working with a man of such proven integrity,” Wilcox said.

“I‘m honored and pleased to have the opportunity to redevelop downtown Asheville’s iconic high-rise, and partnering with the Wilcox family makes it all the more special. We have enjoyed building and managing hotels in Asheville for nearly 20 years, and we look forward to starting our next project in this landmark location,” McKibbon said.

MHG-Tower LLC will be working with the City of Asheville on the planning and approval process. More details on the project will be released as they become available.

Tower Associates Inc. located in Asheville, is the leasing agent and operator of the BB&T Building and BB&T Parking Garage in downtown Asheville and has owned these commercial properties since 1988.
McKibbon Hotel Group, Inc., based in Gainesville, Georgia, is an award-winning, privately held company that has focused on hospitality for more than 50 years. MHG has relationships with three major hotel brands: Marriott International, Hilton Hotels and Starwood Resorts and Hotels. Its portfolio includes more than 75 properties throughout the United States, including three in Asheville.

For additional information on Tower Associates, Inc., visit For more information on the McKibbon Hotel Group, visit

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Condos August 28, 2013

    Just make it all a big condo building… yeah… with the bottom floor being a bank still…

  2. LinaJane August 15, 2013

    Personally, I am really excited about this project! As an interior designer, it would be fantastic if it could lead to jobs for many talents that need work. Also, in case you haven’t noticed- there are many empty storefronts in downtown, and hopefully this will inspire more businesses to fill them. I hope to see downtown the thriving place it should/could be. It is good for all of us. And the best thing about urbanization? If you don’t like people and congestion, then downtown is easy to avoid.

  3. Jason W. August 14, 2013

    Like orulz said: Get rid of that parking deck. Maybe they could buy the parking lot on the Market St end too, and redesign that whole block.
    Get rid of the underground tellers, and the parking lot on the Lexington end. More mixed use buildings.
    Also what about another cinema downtown? (It would have to go vertically like in NYC though)

  4. Murphy August 14, 2013

    According to the CT they plan on having balconies on the exterior of the buiding.

    There used to be a restaurant on the top floor: for years it was “Top of the Square” and then it became “The Downtown City Club” …

    1. CraveRecords August 14, 2013

      Actually, an architect and an urban planner who are not attached to the project said balconies would be great. The owners haven’t announced anything.

  5. Shorty August 13, 2013

    To me, the Aloft is a turd. I bet the BB&T building will still be a big, ugly, brown turd, but with a nice, clean looking turd’s interior. A clean turd if you will.

  6. Forest Davenport August 13, 2013

    Thank goodness every building in Asheville doesn’t look like the Jackson building or the S&W building. A little diversity of styles is interesting.

  7. smiley August 13, 2013

    It’s getting a makeover not a face lift. It’s “iconic” but it’s our icon! Icons can be ugly and be icons simply because of their ugliness. Check.
    It’s our Edsel so keep your hands off its exterior. Actually, I like the design of the Edsel. Oh, I don’t have to look at an Edsel if I choose not to but I have to look at our downtown, epicenter of an icon?
    I sure hope they tweak the exterior……..

  8. NFB August 13, 2013

    Oh goody! More hotel space downtown. What a relief because with the Renaissance, the Loft, the Indigo, the Haywood Park, the one to go up on the old Three Brothers property, and the one to go up across from the Civic Cen…opps the US Cellular Center, we are just hurting for hotels downtown.

    1. SuckItMcGee August 13, 2013

      You forgot the one that is replacing Subway.

    2. Vlad Emrick August 13, 2013

      You do realize, right, that until the Aloft and Indigo were built, there had not been any new hotel rooms built in downtown Asheville in about 20 years?

      Downtown can still support many more hotel rooms. You’ll note, too, that none of the other projects you’ve mentioned have actually started construction.

      Some people will complain about anything.

  9. Johnny Whiplash August 13, 2013

    12 years ago someone told me the best views of Asheville were from the BB&T building – because from there you couldn’t see the BB&T building.
    I’m looking forward to what the new design will be. In the past we’ve missed some great development opportunities for the downtown skyline – particularly the Ellington.

  10. orulz August 13, 2013

    I am unusual in that I actually love the design and architecture of the BB&T building. Having grown up in Asheville, I think of the BB&T building as the ultimate symbol of downtown. Seeing the buildings that have been designed for McKibbon, especially the Haywood Street project, I just can’t imagine anything being enough of an improvement to make it worthwhile. An honest (but not exemplary) international-style building is in my estimation far better than some faux-historic schlock.

    Therefore, I am hoping that McKibbon’s main interest is in the parking deck.

    The absolute best-case scenario, in my opinion:
    –Tear down the parking deck and build a hotel there that looks like and is called the Langren (but includes a substantial integrated parking deck – like the Aloft)
    –Clean and update the exterior of the BB&T, perhaps by replacing the glass, making moderate improvements to the plaza, and punching some windows in the brick base along College and Patton. Keep the overall exterior look pretty much the same.
    –Overhaul the uses of the BB&T building. Get rid of the bank branch on the 2nd floor, or at least downsize it. Put other retail uses on floor 1 facing College and Patton, and floor 2 facing Broadway. Keep the next portion of the building, say floors 3-9, as offices. Convert the next chunk, 10-16, to a high-end hotel, and then put a restaurant/bar on the 17th.
    –Demolish the BB&T drive-through and build something in its place and on the parking lot facing Lexington Avenue. Maybe a 5 story mid-rise about the same scale as the Kress Emporium across the street. Include just enough underground parking spaces here for the hotel at the top of the tower; most of the parking for the complex should be in the “New Langren” hotel.

    1. ashevillain August 14, 2013

      I really like that building too.

      It does something to the late day sunlight (golden hour = more golden around that building) that really just can’t be replicated any other way. Downtown photography will not be the same.

  11. Jake August 13, 2013

    Maybe it won’t be Brown, Boring, and Tall anymore. Well, probably still tall.

  12. Kim Roney August 13, 2013

    Oh BB&T building, we need affordable housing, not more hotel rooms. Sorry you got lumped into this.

    1. CraveRecords August 14, 2013

      How does one have to do with the other? In a city our size, should all affordable housing be located in the middle of downtown?

      It would be better to continue to grow Downtown with businesses categories that have organically been established there. Bring better paying, more accessible employers to neighborhoods that have largely unemployed workforces of people who don’t have the means to travel much further than those neighborhoods.

      There is quite a bit of affordable housing within walking distance of Downtown. True, much of it consists of garage or basement apartments (or you need a roommate), but it’s there.

  13. Jake August 13, 2013

    Is BB&T still in there?

  14. Harry Sax August 12, 2013

    Old ugly meets new ugly…can’t wait

    1. indie August 13, 2013

      I think a blind designer would likely improve things. Exciting project.

      1. anon August 13, 2013

        so true. Can’t get more ugly, that’s for sure.

    2. USS Smiley August 13, 2013

      I personally can’t wait for this – that thing is so ugly, there is no where to go but up with it. And the building is half empty now, so changing its use to fit our times will be great for the City. Finally we can look at the Asheville skyline without having to see that big brown downtown turd tower….


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