Plans to remodel a massive former industrial building in the the Asheville River Arts District to include a 70-room boutique hotel, restaurant and retail space received unanimous approval from the Asheville Planning & Zoning Commission approval Wednesday night.
Greg Hoffman of project engineer Civil Design Concepts presented Charlotte-based White Point Partners’ plans to redevelop the 61,000-square-foot building at 95 Roberts St. known as the Kent Building. The project, which requires a rezoning, moves on to Asheville City Council next for approval.
Commission members, who review the technical merits of proposals, found little to quibble over. Developers should do what they can to soften the appearance of a 15-foot retaining wall that’s part of the plan, board members said as part of their motion to approve development. The motion passed unanimously.
City planner Jessica Bernstein described a few other unique aspects of the plan, none of which had any bearing on P&Z approval. Developers will replace the Roberts Streets sidewalk, but not all of it will be built to a 10-foot width, as required under city rules, because of the way the building is situated, Bernstein said.
As far as parking, there will be pull-off for arriving and departing hotel guests (similar to Hotel Indigo’s design on Haywood Street) along Roberts Street, according to Bernstein. (The main hotel lobby will be along Roberts Street.) Some additional on-street parking will be created across the street from the building, she said. There will also be parking on the west-facing side of the building accessed along the dirt-and-gravel Payne’s Way (the access road to the original location of Wedge Brewing Co.)
There was no public comment when Planning & Zoning Commission Chairwoman Laura Berner Hudson opened the floor to it. (The commission voted Hudson as chair to fill the position of departing former Chairman Jeremy Goldstein. Two other new commission members were also sworn in – Joe Archibald a Sandra Kilgore.)
The Kent Building has a storied history in Asheville. A railroad spur once serviced the muscular, five-story building, which was home to a grocery distributorship. (The names Kent and Ebbs grace the exterior of the building.) Interior elevators serviced each floor. The original structure was built in 1923, but a fire caused significant damage to it two years late. The structure was rebuilt
The building was so solid that is was once designated as Asheville’s official fallout shelter in case of nuclear war or a nuclear accident.
While walking by the building last night around 8:45pm we could see seedy characters walking in and hanging in the building now that a board has been removed right off the sidewalk…hopefully the investors take time to secure the building…