The news that McKibbon Hotel Group is backing out of plans to develop property on Haywood Street in downtown Asheville generated a wealth of responses on various websites. Many readers offered suggestions on what they’d like to see happen to the city-owned property now. Here’s a sample of what some had to say via

“The reason for the timing of the announcement is the expiration of McKibbon's due diligence period. It would have expired months ago, had it not been for the lawsuit. Without my support the city decided to extend the due diligence period pending resolution of the lawsuit. The clock started ticking again after the lawsuit was dropped. Now was the time to put up or shut up. They are shutting up. …The city will now (finally) proceed to knock down the decrepit buildings on the site, implement short-term surface parking, and set about deciding what to do with the property. … What we need to enhance the CC, the Grove Arcade, the basilica, and that stretch of downtown is a park.” —Cecil Bothwell, member of Asheville City Council

“We need green space downtown! Make it a park.” —Jill Boniske

“The lawsuit was dropped about two months ago. Renaissance, Sheraton and Indigo hotels suck for bitching about competition with a lawsuit!” —David Oppenheimer

“So now will the basilica step in and develop the property, or are we going to have a crumbling parking lot there for another 20 years?” —Jason W.

“Smells like a mob-style "hit" using a private contract assassin for plausible deniability. Now CoA can do what it likes, and the only resistance will be the basilica. If McKibbon Group could not withstand the legal expense, I doubt the financially beleaguered church will be able to either.” —Big Al

“It should be given to the NEW art museum. Get out of Pack Square.” —Jonathan Wainscott

“Tart it out with some public space funded by revenues from some parking, sell it in five years for $5 million.” —sharpleycladd

“…OR, turn it into an investment in the city's future – a park that will become the social center for that end of downtown. There are already three hotels planned within a few blocks to supplement the three or four already existing, but no green space of any size. For Asheville to continue to be a place that people want to live in and visit, it has to be more than a mini-Charlotte. Resist the urge to develop every last square foot of downtown, and preserve some green space. It will pay off more in the long run than just another hotel or condo block.” —bsummers

”It's weird, any time the phrase ‘green space’ ‘living wage’ ‘affordable rental’ ‘sustainable’ is used in connection with a new hotel du jour wanting to build downtown, some folks either clam up or counter with ‘taxes’ ‘business opportunity’ ‘jobs.’ Who are we supposed to believe? Call me wacky, but the root word of conservative is conserve, yes? Also, is vertical development always better than horizontal? Why grow simply for its own sake?” —boatrocker

“Why grow simply for its own sake? Thing is, we're not. Asheville is growing because people want to live, visit and do business here. To grow for its own sake would be to keep building even as the city or metro is shrinking… as you'd find in cities like Cleveland, Detroit or Youngstown. Also, in a downtown district, vertical development is most definitely better than horizontal. Space downtown is limited and should not be wasted on low-rise sprawl. If you want sprawl, there's more than anyone can stand on Tunnel Road or Airport Road, and elsewhere. Keep building downtown the way its always been built: up, not out.” – hauntedheadnc


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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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