From Parkside to pilsner

A Pack Square building once slated for demolition now looks to find new life as a bar and restaurant. The Hayes & Hopson Building, which developer Stewart Coleman had planned to tear down to make way for his controversial Parkside condominium project, is instead being renovated and converted into Pack's Tavern.

A pint at Pack: The Hayes & Hopson building, which figured into the controversial Parkside condo project, will now become Pack's Tavern, says developer Stewart Coleman. Photo by Jonathan Welch

Actually consisting of two adjoining structures, the historic Hayes & Hopson Building came into the public spotlight with Coleman's under-the-radar 2006 purchase of a sliver of Pack Square from Buncombe County and the announcement that he planned to build condos next door to the Asheville City Hall and the $20 million Pack Square Park.

To make way for Parkside, Coleman planned to tear down the Hayes & Hopson Building, which he'd purchased privately in 2006. Activists protesting the condo project soon adopted the historic structure as a cause célèbre, along with a much-ballyhooed magnolia tree. In 2008, the demolition plan cleared several hurdles in the city's approval process.

But now, Coleman says he sees potential in the building as a tavern and restaurant, and has already poured $100,000 and three months of refurbishment into the building to make it a reality.

"I would think there's no turning back," he said, noting that the renovation aims to preserve the interior's turn-of-the-century design. "We're using a lot of the materials inside the buildings," he explained.

The new establishment, said Coleman, will feature three bars, a small stage, outdoor seating and 15 windows facing the new Pack Square Park, which is now nearing completion. Pack's Tavern, he predicted, could be open by mid-November.

What's less certain is the future of the Parkside project. Coleman is appealing an Aug. 28, 2008, ruling that the terms of the deed require the property to be used only for public purposes only (see "Judge Rules on Parkside," Sept. 24, 2008, Xpress).

"Parkside is on hold for the time being, but that doesn't mean it's dead," said Coleman. "If this doesn't work, we'd like to go back to plan A. Any businessman likes to keep his options open."

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