SOLD! Asheville’s BB&T building to McKibbon Hotel Group for $7.5 million

Jason Sandford

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

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bbt5Hotelier John McKibbon placed a big bet on the future of downtown Asheville yesterday with the McKibbon Hotel Group’s purchase of the BB&T building for a cool $7.5 million. Paperwork at the Buncombe County Register of Deeds office confirms the sale. McKibbon is owner of the company.

Back in August, McKibbon and Glenn W. Wilcox Sr. of Tower Associates Inc., the owner of the BB&T building, announced a partnership to redevelop the city’s tallest building. The 17-story structure would be converted from commercial office space to a mixed-use development that will include an upscale boutique hotel. More from that announcement:

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.

McKibbon opened his Aloft Hotel on Biltmore Avenue in August of last year. He also purchased property at the corner of Haywood Street across from the U.S. Cellular Center and announced plans to build another hotel there. McKibbon has talked up his love of Asheville for the past few years, and it’s clear that he’s banking on the town’s success. Big changes ahead for the mountain metropolis, folks.

Photos of the BB&T building.

Jason Sandford

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

  • 1

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  1. Architecture Fan November 10, 2013

    A classic of the International Style, and nice to have one example in Asheville.

  2. jtroop November 7, 2013

    I love change, especially downtown!! The facade of this building (and it’s footprint) is not a good use of space. Looking into the ground floor from the street – un-inviting. Looking up at its (golden) reflective windows – un-inspired. It has no depth at all and, where some might say it’s ugly, I say that it’s invisible.

    I worked in the building for years and found the layout of the two narrow corridors bridged by a central channel of elevators and stairs to be dark and drab and boring.

    Rather than sticking ornate fixtures to the side of it, I believe that simply breaking up those long, overly symmetrical vertical lines could provide all of the detail needed to make it more appealing to the eye.

  3. Eric November 7, 2013

    Yay the person that built the ugliest/most disconnected building in Asheville just bought the largest building in Asheville.. lovely.

  4. Murphy November 7, 2013

    A previous article on this project stated that the plans included an exterior upgrade that will include balconies on the hotel floors… as well as “street level” enhancements including additional landscaping.

    As far as the parking garage goes – it would make no sense to “get rid of it”…

    1) it would be difficult to explain to hotel guests where (and how) they were supposed to park in a town that already has a shortage of spaces.

    2) there will still be several floors of offices remaining as well, with employee parking a necessity; and there are several other businesses that lease monthly spaces in the garage as well- many of them on Market Street.

    1. orulz November 7, 2013

      The parking garage: Tear it down and build something in its place with underground parking. Ideal solution? Rebuild something similar to the Langren Hotel on the site, with enough parking, partially underground, for the new hotel plus whatever is needed by the BB&T.

      Barring that, at least find some way to put some retail space in the deck along Broadway.

  5. Asheville Native November 6, 2013

    How anyone can find anything attractive about a dingy dated high-rise is beyond me. There’s not much they could do to it to make it worse, other than paint it some awful color like Indigo or add ferris wheel neon like Aloft. The only way to make it attractive would be to haul it to a scrap metal yard. The hallmark of terrible design is when the building itself has as much aesthetic appeal as the parking garage, and in the BB&T’s case the garage might have more. To the comment about wishing it and the Biltmore would simultaneously disappear, I couldn’t agree more. Add Aloft, Indigo, and that condo building next to the chocolate lounge to that list while we’re at it. Less steel/concrete monstrosities, more buildings with character to match the beauty our city is traditionally known for!

    1. orulz November 7, 2013

      The BB&T is about the only honest building in all of downtown built since 1950.

      In case you missed it, buildings like the ones from the 1890s through the 1920s that asheville is “known for” that are all over the place downtown CAN’T BE BUILT anymore, for many reasons.

      First and foremost, architects don’t know how to design buildings like that anymore. Back then, architects spent all their time studying classical architecture and ornament. There are essentially zero architects these days with that sort of background anymore. Architecture schools have pretty much entirely shifted over to the modernist philosophy of form following function.

      Second, even given a design, the level of detail that was possible then is impossible to duplicate without absolutely breaking the bank. Detail and craftsmanship like the Grove Arcade or Jackson Building pretty much can’t be bought today, at any price.

      Modern materials have advanced greatly since Asheville’s boom years of the 1890s through 1920s, and the temptation to save money by using them rather than adhering to historically available materials is too great to resist. This necessarily has a significant impact on the appearance of buildings.

      So, the best we can hope for in terms of architecture that “blends in” is an awkward piece of crap like that condo building that was proposed where Pack’s Tavern is, or McKibbon’s Haywood Street hotel proposal.

      I’m not sure the reason that the BB&T building is so empty, but it probably has more to do with a generally soft office market downtown combined with a lack of recent updates. Update the interior, change the uses, even replace the cladding, whatever – but keep it as a REAL building, not some half-assed attempt to “seem” historical.

      BTW, regarding the Akzona/Biltmore building: You can tear that one down if you want.

      1. luther blissett November 7, 2013

        I have to agree with this: the BB&T is of its time, it’s not pretending to be something it isn’t, and anything on that scale to replace it would probably be an off-the-peg eyesore like the dry-docked cruise liner that is the Aloft, or a sad pastiche of the city’s century-old architecture.

        (A British magazine had a travel piece on Asheville a few months ago with picture of Pack’s Tavern, describing it as a historic building with authentic frontage. Oh dear.)

        1. Yeppers November 7, 2013

          Ahha ha, really?

          1. luther blissett November 10, 2013

            Sunday Times Travel Magazine — occasionally in stock at Barnes & Noble. The writer took a trip from Asheville up the Parkway to Virginia, travelling through what she called the “Deep South”. Uh, no.

  6. Vlad Emrick November 6, 2013

    This is a good thing. The BB&T Building was on the verge of becoming a ghost town. There’s a lot of empty space in the building. Filling it will be important for downtown.

  7. biguglybrown November 6, 2013

    Parking deck is the first to go. It will be gone before you know it.

    1. Harry November 7, 2013

      What would be their reasoning for demolishing a parking deck that would provide parking for their guest/tenants?

      1. IceNine November 7, 2013

        Building a new parking deck that isn’t about to fall down….

  8. Steve Palmer November 6, 2013

    I just hope they don’t turn it into Aloft XXL, but I won’t be surprised if they do.

  9. Rick F November 6, 2013

    I’ve hoped for years that the BB&T building would fall on the Biltmore Building, which was far from I.M. Pei’s best work. Hopefully McKibbon will improve the drab exterior of the BB&T but please leave off the neon. The Aloft neon sticks out like a sore thumb in downtown when you drive into town after dark from the east. Neon on the BB&T building would stand out like a sore middle finger.

  10. Vibe November 6, 2013

    Here! Here! Or is it Hear! Hear! What it is just leave the exterior. Maybe a different color but more or less the same style.

  11. NFB November 6, 2013

    Seriously, how many hotels does downtown need?

  12. orulz November 6, 2013

    Count me in the minority on this one but I hope he leaves the exterior look of the BB&T building more or less intact. I like it. An honest though not exemplary international style building is better than a hideous design-by-public-meeting pastiche like what was proposed for the hotel across from the Civic Center.

    Hopefully, he will redevelop the BB&T’s crummy parking garage across the street, and the the bank drive-through and empty lot on the same block as the tower itself.

    1. Dru November 6, 2013

      I don’t think you are just in a minority, i think you are all by yourself. Its the biggest eyesore in the state.

    2. Norm November 7, 2013

      I like that building too, you are not alone.

    3. jeffsguy November 8, 2013

      I totally agree about leaving the facade largely intact. It could use some freshening up but it stands as a (minor) example of the international style.

      I have high hopes for the entry plaza which is currently lifeless and forlorn. It needs a innovative contemporary design so that it could be another great urban outdoor space in the heart of downtown. The parking deck and drive-through annex are drab concrete blocks but those are opportunities waiting for a talented architectural team.


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