The Diocese of Charlotte, which runs Asheville’s Basilica of St. Lawrence, has offered the city of Asheville $2 million for Haywood Street property located across the street from the local landmark. Asheville City Council will receive a report on the deal tonight, Jan. 10.
The city’s tried to find a buyer for the site since 2007, most recently with the McKibbon Hotel Group. However, the city didn’t reach a deal with that company, and the diocese offered $2 million for the property on Dec. 20.
One of the diocese’s concerns, according to a letter from attorney Albert Sneed, is that development on the site might damage the nearby basilica.
“If closed, this transaction would place the control of any development on the property in the hands of the Bishop, and the Basilica could make sure the highest standards of vibration control are imposed on any development on this site,” Sneed writes, adding that the deal cold also provide money for the city now and through increased property tax revenues if the site is developed.
Under the terms of the deal, the city would receive $1 million for the four parcels and be responsible for demolishing structures on the site — currently an abandoned storefront and defunct parking garage and converting it to surface parking. The city would receive another $1 million when any “vertical development” occurs on the site.
Designed by architect Rafael Guastavino and completed in 1909, the basilica has the largest freestanding tiled dome in the United States and is a nationally registered historic landmark.