These architectural drawings were shown at a public meeting held by McKibbon Hotel Group officials to explain their proposed hotel project to residents. Asheville City Council set a public hearing date of Sept. 11 to hear from the public, then decide whether to allow the project to move forward. McKibbon also has a website up to provide info at http://haywoodfacts.com/.
The proposal has been in the works for years. It is controversial because church officials with the historic Basilica of St. Lawrence don’t want a hotel on the nearby property, and have made their own pitch for a development. There’s a website in support of the basilica option, http://www.stlawrenceplaza.com/.
Meanwhile, there are many residents who want the piece of city-owned property where the hotel is proposed to be made into a park.
Actually, skyrocketing room rates suggest that demand for downtown hotels is at an all time high. Some more rooms in an attractive building could add some nice price competition.
I don’t really get why we need/want another hotel. There is the Indigo a block away, the Haywood Park hotel down the street and the brand new Aloft hotel on Biltmore Ave as well as Downtown Inn & Suites, numerous B&Bs, etc. Overkill? Probably. Honestly, I don’t have an alternative. A park would probably attract more vagrants/transients where APD would have to stretch out that way from Pritchard Park. Anything is better than the worn out parking lot that is there now though. More hand wringing and bitching by the people of AVL most likely. Oh well. Can’t please everybody.
Agreed 100% on the need to increase the density and intensity of development wherever appropriate, and downtown is obviously an appropriate place.
In another presentation from the same meeting, McKibbon stated that for competitive hotels in Asheville in 2011, the average occupancy year round was 73%, and projected to be 78% in 2012. Hotels are generally said to be profitable above 60% occupancy.
I’m not a big fan of the actual design. Somehow somebody along the way decided that giving buildings a 1-2 story “snout” along the sidewalk, with a small stepback of 10 or 20 feet, and then rising to their full height from there, would make them more sensitive to their context. I contend that it makes the building look unnatural and weird. No historical tall buildings in Asheville do anything like this. I guess this is just adhering to whatever is required by the zoning codes, so this is supposedly what we want, but still.
Regardless, I prefer a somewhat awkward-looking design that follows sound urban principles over a weed filled parking lot and condemned buildings any day of the week.
How exactly is it not an appropriate place for a park?
It’s not necessarily that the location is inappropriate for a park but that the situation is inappropriate for a park. In short, the city has no money to turn this patch of concrete and decaying buildings into a lush green oasis. There are perhaps ways of obtaining that money but all of them would require the state to change laws regarding hospitality tax money distribution.
That is an unrealistic proposal. Why? The state and its Republican government is openly hostile to urban areas in general and to Asheville in particular. You should not expect help from an entity that is working so hard to strip the city of its airport, the Ag Center, and its water system. Therefore, if there is no money now, there will not be any money later.
Additionally, thanks to that Republican government, it is now effectively illegal for cities to expand their boundaries. That means that any new tax revenue generated inside the city of Asheville will have to come from growth and development inside the city limits. This means the city will have to use its existing land to its utmost, smartest use — and in this case that means a tax revenue-generating commercial project smack in the heart of downtown.
In a nutshell, there is no money to build a park and none will be forthcoming, and the city needs the taxes.
If you want to demand a park, do it productively and get on the city’s case about developing the Overlook Park on Beaucatcher Mountain.
The idea that green space has to cost exorbitant amounts of money is so ridiculous. Witness NYC community gardens–turning derelict space, including unused parking lots, nasty trash filled spaces, etc into gorgeous, vibrant gardens. It doesn’t take lots of money, it just takes people. So the idea that there is “no money to build a park” is completely backwards. http://www.greenthumbnyc.org/gardensearch.html
Now sure, if you want to have a city-built developed garden, they’ll find a way to make it cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, no doubt.
Workah, you’re not just talking about putting some plant pots in a parking lot. There are derelict buildings on this plot of ground too. Are they filled with asbestos or other hazardous materials? Do you know how much abatement would cost if they were?
From everything I’ve heard, the people who most want a park want something like Pritchard Park in this space. That would mean removing the pavement, taking down the buildings and decontaminating the area of any hazardous dust they might generate, moving utility pipes, and God knows what all else.
None of that is cheap. The statement that it would cost quite a pretty penny to build a park on a paved and developed urban lot is not at all backward.
I completely agree. The city must do everything it can to gain revenue against a state government that wants to choke it off at every turn and funnel everything to state control. This is interesting coming from a party that talks about small government but obviously walks to a totally different tune. Also, the comparison to NYC is about as irrelevant as you can get. I can understand the need for more green space in a concrete jungle of over 8 million people. C’mon folks! We practically live in a giant park! I don’t see any problem whatsoever with responisble urban growth in downtown Asheville. We are a growing city. We need that space developed and the subsequent economic benefits of it.
Other communities in the city actually need parks & green space – let’s put money into helping those communities if we really want to support the idea of parks.
The people of PARC just don’t want to deal with the construction & a hotel. They are wasting tax payer dollars and have Councilman Bothwell in their pocket (for shame – he was supposed to be against such obvious buyouts as a politician). Let this process move on already.
Build the hotel and in 50-75 years maybe it will convert to mixed use business & housing like the other old hotels of AVL’s previous glory days.
It looks like the architects have done a good job of being respectful and complementary to the basilica and Asheville’s own eclectic, somewhat eccentric style. It will be a good addition aesthetically and economically to the community. Perhaps those who did not “vote” in the PARC survey could speak up here.
People Advocating Relentless Complaining …
PARC’s leading members live right next door – it seems really more selfish about them not wanting to deal with and hear construction than about what is best for the community. This is a good compromise w/ the plaza & design & infinitely better than the eyesore that currently exists. I support parks, but this is not an appropriate space for one.
I like it as well, especially the version that re-routes Page. That area has always been a little confusing.
I hope it gets built too. It looks fine to me. My fear is that PARC will pitch such a fit that the lot ends up staying just the way it is for another decade or two.
Which would suit them just fine, I suspect. Derelict buildings and a parking lot — anything is better than new construction!
This proposal looks great. We get a nice looking hotel, tax revenue, some open space in front, and we improve what is now an ugly parking lot. I think the design compliments downtown and the Basilica. I hope it gets built.
and quite a bit of primo new retail space on Haywood Street …