City Council to hear input on new 12-story tower at Mission Hospital

Mission Hospital's 12-story tower at 509 Biltmore Avenue. Image provided by HDR.

Mission Hospital’s proposed mammoth tower complex at 509 Biltmore Avenue looks likely to overshadow the handful of other agenda items at City Council’s next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

On several different contiguous parcels totaling over 30 acres of land, Mission plans to build a 12-story medical tower comprising 681,000 square feet of space. The facility will include an all-new emergency department, which will be accessed from Victoria Road. A new main hospital entrance also will be added on Victoria across from Livingston Street.

While new parking will replace the parking structures demolished to make way for the tower building, a net loss of 130 spaces is expected. The project also includes significant new retaining walls along Biltmore Avenue and Hospital Drive and around the new entrance drop-off area.

At a Sept. 2 meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission, members of that body expressed concerns about the new facility’s pedestrian connection to Biltmore Avenue and the height and scale of the proposed walls along Biltmore Avenue and Hospital Drive.

City documents indicate that planning staff has met with the Mission Hospital team a number of times during the development of the proposed design. Mission has amended its design plan to address some of the city’s concerns. Overall, city staff reports that the proposed design meets (or can meet, with amendments as suggested) the technical requirements of Asheville’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). However, concerns remain about the context, character and compatibility of the facility along the Biltmore Avenue corridor and Hospital Drive.

As a Level III project under the city’s UDO, this project requires a Conditional Use permit and City Council approval.

Neighborhood Sidewalk Policy

Council will vote on the Transportation Department’s recommendation to approve the city’s new Neighborhood Sidewalk Policy. The purpose of the policy is to guide decision-making and to prioritize potential sidewalk projects in an objective and transparent way.

The new policy will use a two-step process for evaluating sidewalk needs. In the initial process phase, locations will be analyzed using geographic information system (GIS) data to determine:

  • proximity to transit stops and community destinations
  • areas zoned for small lot or multi-family residential use
  • prevalence of low-income households and of households without motor vehicles
  • two measures of safety: traffic volume and pedestrian crash history

The second phase of the review process will examine top-ranking projects from the initial phase. These sites will be evaluated using criteria that cannot be applied from GIS analysis, including:

  • connectivity to the transportation system
  • whether sidewalk is already present on one side of the street
  • construction feasibility
  • if a choice must be made from two or more similarly ranking projects, geographic distribution of projects

Various city departments and public committees contributed to the development of the policy, and public input was gathered through forums and surveys.

Board and Commission Appointments

Immediately before its 5 p.m. meeting, Council will interview two candidates for the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA). A recent change to the state law which established the BCTDA will allow council to appoint two members (rather than one) to the body. Candidates must be an owner or operator of hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts or vacation rental management companies with more than 100 units.

Gary Froeba, John Luckett, Himanshu Karvir and Dennis Hulsing were determined to be qualified candidates and were invited to a public interview. At 4:15, Luckett will be interviewed, followed by Karvir at 4:30. The other candidates were unavailable.

In its general session, council will vote on appointments to the BCTDA.

Of the nine candidates who have applied for the Planning & Zoning Commission, council will determine which individuals they will interview for the two available openings on the commission.

Council also will consider interviews for appointments to the Neighborhood Advisory Committee, the Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy & the Environment to the Multimodal Transportation Commission and the Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee.

Consent Agenda

This session’s consent agenda is a lengthy one. The full listing of consent agenda items and supporting documentation can be found at the city’s full meeting agenda here.

Council will meet in the Council Chamber on the second floor of City Hall at 5 p.m.



About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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