A group of investors on Monday unveiled plans for a new, 23-story luxury high-rise in downtown Asheville. And while the sucker is big, it stands apart from the rather pedestrian new condos and other major construction that has taken place downtown in recent years.
The Ellington, dubbed a luxury-boutique hotel by the investors — which include the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa — honors the legacy of Art Deco maestro Douglas Ellington, the man behind some of the city’s most intriguing buildings, including City Hall, First Baptist Church, S&W Cafeteria, and Asheville High School.
As planned, the building proposed for 35 Biltmore Ave. (close to Doc Chey’s restaurant) would include 48 condos, 125 oversized, upscale hotel rooms and four rooftop penthouses. On the ninth floor, where the hotel would end and the condos begin, there would be a restaurant, a bar, a pool and a terrace overlooking Asheville.
The concept is just beginning the long, hard slog through the city’s permitting and approval process. Though the size of the structure will likely be challenged, since it would basically become the dominant building on the city’s skyline, the investors have promised certain qualities likely to win converts other than the beauty of the building itself. From environmentalists to housing advocates to artists and their patrons, investors have sweetened the proposal in such a way that might make it hard to oppose it.
First, patrons and residents would have full privileges at the Grove Park and the resort says it will invest in energy-efficient shuttles to carry those people back and forth 16 hours a day, so as to cut down on congestion and pollution. A shuttle system also would transport employees. Additionally, the structure would also be built to so-called green-building standards. As for housing, the investors have committed to creating a nonprofit fund that would collect a portion of the sales price of all real-estate components related to the hotel and condos for a period of 75 years—money that would be earmarked exclusively for workforce housing within the city.
The hotel also sees itself as an arts showcase, with a large mural along one side and various displays and mixed media celebrating local arts. For instance, pedestrian areas along Aston and Lexington avenues would feature large, lighted shadow-box displays of the local arts scene.
And the investors see a bottom-line impact as well: The hotel would create 100 new jobs, and generate an estimated $1.5 million in property taxes, $805,000 in sales taxes, and $320,000 in room taxes annually.
For a complete report on the proposed building, check out the May 30 edition of Xpress.
—Hal L. Millard, staff writer