This was the second hotel City Council approved this year under its new rules requiring any lodging facility of more than 21 rooms to be reviewed by council members. The other hotel was also located on Tunnel Road.
City Council adopted the new hotel rules following a hotel construction boom that’s seen several new hotels built in downtown, and several more either built or proposed for other areas of the city, including Tunnel Road and the Biltmore Village area. (Here’s a look at where the hotel construction boom stands right now.)
The proposal before City Council on Tuesday night calls for the construction of a Candlewood Suites hotel to be built at 49 Tunnel Road, which is essentially a massive parking lot near the Innsbruck Mall. The hotel will be five stories tall and will feature a green roof, LED lighting, a small dog park, artwork from local artists in room, as well as surfacing parking.
Twinkle Patel, who spoke on behalf of the hotel owners, told City Council that she lives in Maggie Valley with her husband and two sons. She said her father-in-law has owned a Maggie Valley hotel for 19 years, and that her family visits Asheville two or three times a week.
Patel said she grew up in the family business, and said the new hotel proposal deal was solidified the day her second son was born, “so this project is personal.” She described the hotel as “midscale,” with rooms renting at about $80 a night. “It’s for people who come to stay long-term” in Asheville, such as on work assignments.
Patel said neighbors along Tunnel Road, all of them commercial businesses such as Ingles grocery store, Papa’s & Beer Mexican Restaurant, McDonald’s restaurant, Mikado Japanese Restaurant and Happy Jack’s restaurant, were all in favor of the project. The development will add a crosswalk to McDonald’s and maintain a stairway to access Ingles, she said. Patel added that the green roof feature will put the proposal over the city requirement for so-called open space.
Several speakers rose to speak in favor of the development, including a representative of the owners of the Innsbruck Mall, as well as Asheville attorney Joe McGuire, who spoke on behalf of the group of owners of the Mikado and McDonald’s property.
“The Patels have been excellent to work with” and have exhibited a high degree of integrity regarding the proposal, McGuire said.
City Councilwoman Julie Mayfield made the motion to approve the project. In making her motion, and in comments prior to that, said the hotel proposal is “not what we want to see” in that area under regulations being developed under the city’s new comprehensive plan, which calls for high-density, mixed-use proposals.
“We can’t hold good people hostage to the work that hasn’t been done,” Mayfield said. Thus, “I think this project puts in front of us the need to put in place the zoning and compliance that we want to see as quickly as possible,” she said.
With that, City Council voted unanimously for the new hotel.