Church officials will tout plans for development near St. Lawrence Basilica on Friday

Jason Sandford

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

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The ongoing public relations war over how a small tract of city-owned land near the Basilica of St. Lawrence will chalk up its next chapter on Friday. That’s when church officials will host a public meeting from 5-7 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel, according to an ad in this week’s Mountain Xpress.

The city wants to sell the property on Haywood Road. It has been in talks with the McKibbon Hotel Group, which released preliminary plans at its public meeting about a month ago. McKibbon has a website up to provide info at And click here to see more architectural drawings of the McKibbon plan.

But church officials don’t want a hotel on the nearby property, and have made their own pitch for development. There’s a website in support of the basilica option, That’s the plan that will likely get more of an airing on Friday.

Meanwhile, there are many residents who want the piece of city-owned property where the hotel is proposed to be made into a park.

Asheville City Council is expected to make a decision about the property at its Sept. 11 meeting.

Jason Sandford

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

  • 1

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  1. Roger Hartley September 7, 2012

    Great point about the damage to the structure of their own proposal. But, then again, we don’t have the advice of an engineer on that one to know. It appears to be a smaller building, larger green space and plaza. Plus, was I right that the Basilica plaza would be park-like (grass/gardens) and the other plaza cement? Would be nice to know the answers and comparisons, wouldn’t it?

    I am also really surprised at the lack of coverage and real discussion of the costs/benefits of each proposal. The city seems rather mute on its interests in obtaining long term revenue from the sale and future tax revenues. OR it is just not being reported. I would place the responsibility with journalists to ask those tough questions. What is the expected revenue to the city of either proposal?

    Last, what makes this different to me is that it is public land. That means we own it. That means we should be talking about the opportunity costs of using the land for any specific purpose and the benefits to the residents of the city of any outcome.

    Isnt that just being lost? And dont get me wrong. I wonder what else it could be used for? This is prime downtown land. The price tag seems really low. And once sold, it is gone for generations, isn’t it?

    Last, I find this one simply fascinating. It is an opportunity unlike many for our community to communicate its values and to come to shared values. I fear the opportunity is being lost by placing the focus simply on the fight.

    1. indie September 8, 2012

      Dreaming up values on land doesn’t replace the reality. Just like folks thought the namimg rights for the Civic Center were too low. After a month delay, guess what, no higher bids forthcoming.

  2. Doug Sahm September 6, 2012

    So the church’s plan is virtually the same (retial, commercial, apartments, etc.), but just no hotel?

  3. indie September 6, 2012

    I wonder if the Basilica will address their concern that the alternative construction endangers the church? Did that concern come about from a few years ago when they used a wrecking ball on one of their own properties much closer to the church than the proposed McKibbon project? Maybe they just thought it would sound good?


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