Developer Stewart Coleman, together with five of his business associates, presented plans for his proposed ParkSide building to the Pack Square Conservancy Board at its regular meeting on Oct. 3. Charlotte architect Mark Fishero, lead designer of the high-rise, narrated a PowerPoint presentation of the design. The Conservancy must approve all new construction or renovation of properties that front on Roger McGuire Green (formerly known as City/County Plaza) or Pack Square.
The 11-story building would be constructed on property that is the subject of a lawsuit filed Sept. 30 by heirs of George Willis Pack, who conveyed land to the county in two deeds executed in 1901 (See “A Friend in Deed,” Sept. 5 Xpress). One of those deeds stipulated that if the land was ever sold for private use it would revert to Pack family ownership. The county sold land to Coleman last year and maintains its right to do so was based on the second deed, which may have removed the covenants included in the first. Pack’s heirs are seeking enforcement of the first deed and have stated their intent to preserve the land for public use.
At the outset of the meeting, Conservancy Executive Director Marilyn Geiselman reported that the board had issued a statement to all parties which read, in part, “By initiating design review we are not granting any approval of the project.” She indicated that this was just one step in the formal process that is going forward without regard to other issues surrounding the site.
Fishero’s presentation included a proposed land swap in which Coleman would give up 3,256 square feet of property in front of its proposed building in exchange for an additional 171 square feet of property close to Asheville City Hall. The parcel Coleman purchased from the county is oddly shaped, and the small triangle he is now seeking would permit construction of a rectangular structure closer to the city building. The proposed building would include three floors of parking (all of which would be below the park grade), retail space fronting on the park, and nine floors of residential units. There is some confusion about the number of floors because the penthouse units are referred to as the tenth floor of the building, but both units are two-story condominiums, making 11 floors in all.
Fishero emphasized the proposed structure’s conformity to Conservancy design guidelines, including features that tend to break the building into distinct visual blocks at street level and mid- and upper-level sections, with strong vertical shifts and windows and balconies that also move the building away from a monolithic appearance.
Following the presentation, Xpress addressed a question to Coleman concerning the proposed design. “Your high-rise at 21 Battery Park doesn’t bear close resemblance to the original artist’s drawing of that building. How can you assure the community that the finished structure at ParkSide will look like the drawings presented today?”
Coleman replied, “I can’t comment on that.”
The Conservancy Board will hold one or more informal work sessions in coming weeks to evaluate the ParkSide proposal. Such meetings will be open to the public. Following evaluation, Geiselman said the board may approve, disapprove or request changes to the plan. Dates and times of those sessions are have not yet been announced.