Asheville City Council delays Ellington vote

A team of developers and designers asked Council to postpone their vote on the 23-story Ellington after Council members raised concerns about the boutique hotel’s size. The Sept. 11 presentation was the project’s first appearance before Council.

Hesitancy on the part of the developers came after Mayor Terry Bellamy asked if the building could be shortened by 36 feet, bringing it into range of the BB&T building’s height.

But designers in the room were not willing to make that call on such short notice, nor were the developers willing to risk a majority vote against the building. “I think that if this thing gets voted down tonight, it’s over with,” said attorney Lou Bissette, representing the development group that includes the Grove Park Inn.

Council voted unanimously to postpone deliberation and a vote until Oct. 16.

For the full story, see the Sept. 19 issue of Xpress.

— Brian Postelle, staff writer


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46 thoughts on “Asheville City Council delays Ellington vote

  1. Bruce Mulkey

    The Ellington is totally out of scale for the planned downtown location. New projects that fit their surroundings? Absolutely. But do we really want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg?

  2. Woody Feffer

    Let downtown grow UP so we can stop the sprawl thats destroying why most of us actually live here!!

  3. hauntedheadnc

    “But do we really want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg?”

    I know. Just look at the Battery Park Apartments! So out of scale! Kills street life for the entire area, and it’s a shame about all those trees dying in the eternal shade of that horrid, horrid tall building. What on earth were they thinking in 1927?! Didn’t they know that Asheville’s goal should not be to grow as a city but to stagnate as a “quaint” little town?

  4. john avery bradley

    I have lived in beautiful Asheville,NC for 4 years now.I always dreamed of moving here,and did finally after purchasing my first home here.
    This city will continue to grow for many years to come with or without any of our opinions.I have no problem with taller buildings coming in the future….As LONG AS WE STILL HAVE THE UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFUL BLUERIDGE PARKWAY!I’M REALLY PROUD TO BE A CITIZEN OF THIS “GREAT CITY.”

  5. Rob Close

    305 feet is TALL. Tall enough to be ugly, and thus devalue our natural beauty. Growing up is fine – 15 story buildings seem to fit in. 23 stories or 305 feet, either way, it’s out of scale.

  6. sallyj

    although i like the idea of building ‘up’ instead of ‘out’, i’m not sure that is an accurate dichotomy.
    i do not see how any tall buildings downtown will stop people from owning their second and third house out in the country somewhere.
    saying so seems to imply to me that the same people who want to live in an expensive condo in a hip urban center are the same people who want to own a giant 2400 sq ft. house for two people on a ridge top in black mountain or fairview. i dont think that is true.

  7. rick

    yes, it is important to utilize the space in a vertical format, but that stretch of biltmore avenue is a bad traffic area — too much traffic stalled. and with the new ‘improved’ pack square and the shunting off of one of the turn lanes going north at the square, we have more and more gridlock on that street. with the building of this monstrosity, we have at least three years of more congestion, and with its opening, even more… they need to have the main entrance on lexington avenue if they go through with it as is. but i still feel it is ill-sited, ill-sized, and ill-conceived. it is the grove park inn flexing its muscle and trying to be the 500 pound gorilla, pushing its agenda in downtown just like it did in its own neighborhood. they are NOT good neighbors — they are a greedy corporation with no concerns for anyone but their own. council needs to stand firm on this, and get them to downsize and re-design this is not the right size for this part of downtown, and i lived right next door to where they want to build this thing for six years in the late 90s. so i know a little about the traffic patterns on that street and how it builds up with the smallest of obstructions. yes, some progress is good, but at what price?? the whole character of biltmore avenue in the area south of pack square is very ‘low rise’ and pedestrian friendly…. this is directly oppositional to that aesthetic….

  8. Austin

    GROW,GROW, GROW!!!???????? Like Atlanta, Great idea!!! Now get lost!!!
    Don’t believe for a second that this type of development is going to stop sprawl. WHO SAID SO???
    People are moving here and people are breeding here. Those who can AFFORD extra space pay for it. Unless some original and creative ideas are formed,this trend will continue until the area is filled and the air is unbreathable (it already has very high rates of asthma).
    Oh yeah, how exactly is this ellington supposed to make my life as a citizen here better? I can’t think of one way.
    If the Grove Park wants to build something cool for this town, how about a light rail!
    I don’t see how anyone could look at the artist rendering on this page and think it looks in scale.

  9. soja

    i say we pass an ordinance that keeps people from owning more than one house, or something along those lines.

    that’d truly help the growing problem.

    this project will not ‘help’ any locals, other than the already wealthy. a few minimum wage-slave jobs to serve the rich is not ‘helping’ the economy.

    but, remember the grove arcade took 70 some years to finish? what will happen to the ellington after the next economic crash? will it sit still for 70 some-odd years while asheville recovers again

    or is that just wishful thinking?

  10. dankster

    To big – out of scale it is going to look hilariously hideous. hauntedheadnc is correct it is going to kill the street life and break up the neighborhood – so many come to Asheville to enjoy. I for one am not against building in downtown especially if it is affordable for the average joe – done with common sense – with the thought of green building in mind….but this Skyscraper is a bit to big for that area and is only going to service the elite rich not the average person of Asheville. That Skyscraper in that area is basicly going to ruin the integrity of the surrounding area . This Skyscraper is not going to stop urban sprawl. North Carolina farmers are still one by one selling off there land (please do not forget to buy local). One thing that I noticed missing from the Artist rendering is all the Construction and Traffic hassles for years to come on Biltmore Ave (sounds fun) we as a community are going to have to deal with. and then after it’s built right out front will be the valet parking for all the residence who live in condos and people staying in suites (I can not wait for that site). I seen this quote in a tour guide book at a local hotel some friends were staying at over the winter months “Welcome to Asheville The city that is growing so fast the next time you visit you will not recognize it” – how true & how sad. this should be an issue that the people of the city of Asheville are able to vote on.

  11. Carrie

    soja: your proposed ordinance is ridiculous. What exactly would that accomplishe besides restricting freedoms? Many people own second homes for rental income, vacation homes, as investments etc. and should if that’s what they want to do with their money. It puts money into Asheville. Although I think the Ellington is too high and creates problems as is, you can’t stop people from moving here. Why would you want to? If you are concerned over wages why don’t you concentrate on that or start a business which pays everyone more than ‘slave wages’. That would help the economy.

  12. hauntedheadnc

    Dankster, I’m hoping you realized I was being sarcastic, but just chose to ignore it. I don’t think for a second that the Ellington will kill street life. I think it will be full of hotel guests and residents who are going to do an awful lot of shopping downtown, and eat an awful lot of meals in downtown restaurants.

    I’m also not afflicted with the paralyzing terror of tall buildings that seems to afflict so many people in Asheville who must clap their hands over their eyes every time they go downtown so as to avoid being offended by the Battery Park Apartments, Jackson Building, courthouse, city hall, Public Service Building, BB&T;Building, or the Renaissance Hotel. Nor do I daily curse the memory of those Asheville builders 80 years ago who ruined such a nice quaint town with all those hideous monstrosities like, again, the Jackson Building and the Battery Park Apartments. Nor am I deluded enough to believe that Asheville is a quaint lil’ bitty town and not the metropolitan hub for an urban region of some 350,000 people.

    Bottom line, if you want a small town with short little buildings, I hear Mars Hill and Saluda are lovely. If you want to stay in a growing city, you’d better learn to deal. And you’d better open your eyes, also. Tall buildings have been around in Asheville for a long time now.

  13. Woody F

    Well said hauntedheadnc! I’ve been reading the replies to this post all day and I’m just astounded by the number of people who fear the vertical growth of a fantastic downtown. One of our most photographed scenes is indeed our lovely skyline dotted by the fantastic architecture of such buildings as the Jackson building, Battery Park Apartments, and the city and county buildings. Granted I find the BBT building to be an awful eyesore that I’ll be happy to watch loose prominence in the skyline when something as well designed as the Ellington comes along.

  14. dankster

    I do not have a problem with big tall buildings.I do have a problem with a building going in an area where it is obviously proportionally to big for said area..I believe the developer could take some quality time and suggestions from the community, and find a much better area within the city to put the skyscraper where it does not infringe and effect the historical value of other buildings.But it’s obvious the developer just wants front row seats to the city no matter what – and the city commission along with the mayor have smiles supported by greed. That building is simply to big for that area.Some of you people talk about the city skyline filled with lights as something beautiful….give me a break !….The surrounding mountains are the beauty of this area.nothing can take away from that or can it.People already have been coming to this city to be able shop and eat and enjoy a peaceful environment for years and will continue to come regardless if this building is built or not.the beauty of this area sells it self not some skyscraper building representing materialism. To me that Building will only encourage more growth in and around the surrounding areas of Asheville.

  15. Woody F

    Ok Dankster, I can see your point or at least the point you are attempting to make. But where would you suggest somebody put a skyscraper? Should it go right next to the BBT building? We could tear down the line of lovely little restaurants and build it on the other side of Patton, or maybe we should take down the Kress building and put it there? Maybe we should put it by the Battery Park Hotel so its on the highest point in downtown and tear down some smaller apartments to do it? On top of that the proposed location is less then one block from the BBT building, it can’t really get much closer now can it? None of the buildings in that area are are particularly old, or beautiful. Its the long lived businesses in them that make them great downtown space. A hotel/condo like the Ellington will bring them all more business which may in turn let them pay their employees more which is good for us all. The location is fine, especially since its going to fill in an empty lot and unused parking space that’s been empty and an eyesore for longer than the decade that I’ve lived here. Its good progress plain and simple, it won’t harm the environment we all live here for, it won’t take down a single tree to do it! It will change the way downtown looks, but its not an ugly building. It will bring more people to live in it but they may already live in Asheville to begin with. Finally yes as a hotel it will bring more tourists, but you know what? THIS IS A TOURIST TOWN! It has been for well over 100 years! Get used to it or leave.

  16. killarue

    As a person who lives and works in the downtown area, I wonder what consideration, by council, is given to the effect to the local citizens’ quality of life what with the continuing saga of the new park and possibly now this new large building. I have to walk around the current construction site a few times a week breathing that dust filled air viewing the beauty of plastic orange fences, piles of dirt and regularly changed detour signs and wonder why progress seems to always be represented by new construction. It amazes me how shallow this society presents.
    So, will big development win again, while stealing our quality of life for another three years for the sake of increasing the tax base.(rhetorical) Just who are we competing against? Maybe the mountains!

  17. Rob Close

    woody – i think the issue is that it’s simply too big to fit anywhere in our city.

    we have a right to want to retain at least SOME of our quaint imagine. sure we have tall buildings already, and they’re a mixed blessing, but it’s the scope of this project that is disturbing.

    bigger isn’t always better. development will continue but it CAN be intelligent. development can even make things the community appreciates – but this simply isn’t one of them.

  18. Woody F

    Whats this we thing? You have a right to want to retain your quaint image, but downtown hasn’t ben quaint since the BB&T;building went up. The building is not that big, its 35 feet taller than the BB&T;building but further down the hill so it will be about the same size, most of the mass of the building will be hidden behind the buildings that line Biltmore Ave. I’d like to see anybody come up with a reason other then changing the quaintness of town why this building is wrong. Looks doesn’t count either since thats a deeply personal choice.

    As for killarue’s issue with construction… well welcome to a growing town. If you don’t like the construction I hear Weaverville likes its small town image.

  19. hauntedheadnc

    Progress is usually represented by new construction, killarue, because new buildings, new parks, new head shops, and the like do not spring fully-formed from the forehead of Zeus.

    And it amazes me how shallow you are that you’re het up about the park construction when it inconveniences you temporarily for the greater benefit of the entire region, and will be a vast improvement over what used to be there. But, poor thing, you have to put up with construction dust and the sight of it all, and it is all about you, isn’t it?

  20. dankster

    woody F – ‘You say get used to it or leave’ – well ummmm – Just to let you know where I am coming from on all this. – I am 45 and I was born and raised in that particular section of Asheville and still live downtown.Where do you want me to go?. hmmmm & where did you come from ?.Trust me I have seen lots of changes downtown through the times.There are plenty of downtown lots more appropriate for said skyscraper.

  21. hauntedheadnc

    Where might they be then, dankster? And why wouldn’t the people living nearby complain and demand it be built somewhere else more appropriate — say… about a block away from the BB&T;Building, maybe in the neighborhood of Lexington Avenue and Aston Street?

  22. Woody F

    Well then I suppose you should be used to it by now right? How does it matter where I’m from? I’ll tell you its a smaller town then Asheville. So where are these plenty of downtown areas more appropriate for a skyscraper? Keep in mind that they won’t be tearing down any buildings and you have to build a big building on soil capable of supporting a large building.

  23. Austin

    Killarue, please forgive hauntedheadnc and his condescending remarks. And yes, as Einstein so eloquently pointed out, it is all about the observer and their perception. When someone states their opinion it is obviously all about them. Hauntedheads remarks stink of Rileyesque heavyhandedness. Thanks for taking it there.
    This town needs to take care of itself and it’s infrastructure before it starts planning massive developments catering to a whole new wave of tourists and super wealthy transplants.
    Unchecked development kills cities character. It killed Austin Texas and it will kill this town. The vultures are circling and they will eat everything they can find. They will not stop until this place is fully developed. They do not care that this is a sensitive bioregion or that the air already sucks. Developers don’t think of these sorts of things. They deserve no breaks and we will stand firm against their advances.

  24. dankster

    Why does it need to be right in the heart of the downtown area?. answer that for me. How about putting on lower coxe ave – bank ave – federal st area or maybe broadway st area. I could go on & on,but it’s a very nice day and I am going to go play.

  25. Woody F

    Austin – how does a new hotel/condo cater to a new wave of tourists and super wealthy transplants? Don’t you realize this town is already full of the super wealthy just begging to live downtown? How is this the cities project? The infrastructure of the town has nearly zip to do with the development of a green high rise. Speaking of green, you also do realize that the state of the air in this town in almost entirely due to states to the west and north west right? There’s nothing we can do to change that.

  26. hauntedheadnc

    Well, rest assured that the only reason I’m going on and on about it is because I’m stuck inside at work and can do so. Otherwise I’d be out playing too — it really is a lovely day.

    If what you’re suggesting is the allowance of high-rise growth in the South Slope area, which is in dire need of redevelopment, then I can see your point and I can even agree with you. High-rise, mixed use, dense urban growth is the best growth because it’s much more environmentally-sensitive than hundreds of houses on hundreds of acres where the woods used to be, each of them poisoning their lawns so it will be greener than the neighbors’. Dense urban growth also generates foot traffic for shops and restaurants. Dense urban growth is also a means of getting that many more taxpayers onto a smaller footprint to the point that they’re paying more in than they take out.

    So, if you’re basically advocating the construction of a new downtown, with developments like the Zona Lofts leading the way, I’m all for it. However, downtown Asheville is already dense and urban and it’s not as though there’s any sense of unity to it at the moment. The buildings look as though they were expressly designed to clash. Tall buildings are next to short ones. The BB&T;towers over that Asian restaurant that used to be Beanstreets. The Battery Park Apartments tower over the Grove Arcade and over the Basilica of St. Lawrence. The clash and the contrast is already there in spades, and it’s half the visual appeal of downtown as it is.

  27. Woody F

    Dankster – Where else do you put skyscrapers? Do you really think it would look better or be more fitting sitting all by itself some 250 feet taller then any building within a half mile of it? Expect that over the years to come as more people move here that more buildings will move in downtown. The buildings that lack historical character will be torn down to be replaced by a new buildings, this is the way cities work. All you have to do to see that in action and to negate most of your reasonings is to go to Pack Place and look at the history of downtown dioramas. Almost every building on the square has come and gone 3 times already. Round 4 began with the BB&T;and i m pei buildings.

  28. hauntedheadnc

    You know, I agree with you Austin that unchecked development hurts cities. I’m not exactly sure how you’re equating the Ellington with unchecked development simply because it is not the yurt (constructed of only the finest organic birch bark) that you would probably prefer be built on the site. The Ellington, while upscale, is sensitively designed. If it wasn’t, it would be a plain glass box. God knows rich people, or at least rich people in Charlotte, love condos in plain glass boxes. The Ellington will contribute more than a million dollars toward building affordable housing downtown as well. It is anything but “unchecked.”

    Your basic problem, and its a problem that has felled many an otherwise intelligent Ashevillian in recent years, is that no growth is acceptable to you. You’re here, you got yours, and now it’s time to close the gates. It doesn’t work that way, unfortunately, and I can assure you that the developers of all that mushrooming sprawl in the hinterlands truly don’t give a damn about sensitive biospheres or bad air. At least the developers of the Ellington are contributing to an already built-up area, they’re not destroying any woods to build the thing, and they’re creating the kind of development that will let people walk to where they want to go rather than drive. Seems to me the Ellington is, in an environmental sense, precisely the type of growth Asheville needs.

  29. hauntedheadnc

    Unfortunately, Woody, when it comes to the demolition of historic buildings, this is where we’ll have to agree to disagree. Asheville’s soul is its history, and one of the reasons it is so appealing is that its history is so well-preserved. That’s why I’m glad the Ellington is for the most part going up on vacant land. I’m unhappy that they plan to demolish the empty building at 31 Biltmore, just as I’m unhappy with Stuart Coleman’s plans to tear down the Hayes-Hopson Building, and the fact that Central United Methodist Church is hellbent (no pun intended) on destroying the old factory building at 22 Church St. Sure, 31 Biltmore and the Hayes-Hopson are unassuming, even ugly little buildings, but we made it this far largely protecting our history and more steps need to be taken to protect it further. When the buildings on Pack Square were torn down for the BB&T;Building and the Biltmore Building (an oozing boil on the face of the city if there ever was one), we lost a lot more than we gained, and probably a large part of the reason new growth is resisted so mightily is the fear that we’ll get more of the same.

  30. Austin

    Woody, new hotels = more and new tourists. That is plain to see. No I did not realize that there are super wealthy people in Asheville begging for a chance to live downtown. As far as infrastructure goes, I was thinking about the hassle to local traffic during this and other projects and the fact that Biltmore Ave. is already too congested. I don’t trust most developers and think this building looks stupid and don’t look forward to this town moving toward a ’boutique’, Sante Fe or Santa Barbara style town. It is happening, you can’t argue, and I could care less about this ritsy-titsy crap. I could go somewhere else for that. I like this towns charm. I like being able to see the mountains from downtown vantages, soon (if developers have their way) only those who can afford to be a couple of floors up will be able to see the mountains from downtown. This is the unchecked growth that I mentioned. It’s not a fantasy, it is happening everywhere. The fear hauntedhead mentions is a result, not a paranoia.

    hauntedheadnc–you are wrong in assuming I have some sort of emotional or financial tie to this town. I don’t want to close the gates, I just want see the amount of exclusivity kept to a minimum. I already have plans to leave, but I care and I want this town to continue to offer people what it offered me when I first came here (vistas, a vibrant underground arts scene, open people who haven’t been spoiled by riches). We will fight, the developers will win some, the enviro peace freaks will win some and hopefully this town will remain affordable to all. Ha!! Like it is??

  31. hauntedheadnc

    Hell, I want to see the amount of exclusivity kept to a minimum. The Ellington is going to contribute toward affordable housing, although I’d prefer they include it in the project itself. Problem with that is that if they did, the building would have be even (omgohnoestehhorrorwhygodwhy) taller. I’m all for legislating inclusiveness, but you do realize that to make that work, the city is going to have to embrace height, don’t you? You can’t build a short, affordable project downtown with what land costs there, and hope to make any money.

  32. sojia

    so, explain to me how limiting who can move here and how many houses they can own, (or if out-of-towners can own houses here) infringes on peoples’ rights’ any more than rich people making all the rules in the first place?

    i still think a law against new folks moving here is a good idea. i dont expect many to agree with it, but how else do you propose limiting growth so that this area doesnt turn into a the place everyone moved away from when they came here?

    oh! wait, now i see!! lets ruin asheville so that everyone will leave here and go and destroy the next, new, “quaint little town”. Then, the rest of us, can have the town back.

    i understand the plan, now. how could i have been so dense?

  33. Woody F

    Don’t get me wrong Hauntedheadnc. I’m all for preservation of old buildings, some of the greatest buildings I’ve ever seen exist here in downtown Asheville. There are though a good many buildings downtown that have little to offer other then two floors of of simple 1930’s brick and mortar. I won’t shed a tear for them just like I wouldn’t shed a tear for the hundreds of cookie cutter homes in Biltmore Park. I am very grateful though that instead of tearing buildings down the Ellington will be neatly puzzle pieced in between two buildings on the street and then fill up some grimy old parking lots. I do hope they put in some underground public parking…

    Austin – the tourists are coming… that’s what this town is all about. That’s why when Six Flags wanted to build a park here we turned them away… oh wait that would have been good for tourism… hummm oh oh that’s why we told BMW to suck an egg instead of letting them build their factory here. Spartanburg didn’t turn them away though and now look at the thousands of jobs they have that we don’t They also have a state of the art facility that probably puts out less waste then the cars it produces. The decision to be a small quaint little mountain town is long gone, the days of relying almost entirely on tourism is also gone. This town is going to grow and we need to balance our need for business, homes, taxes and tourism. The Ellington will bring all of that. Everybody in Asheville will in someway benefit from its being built. I don’t think it will hurt anybody except some folks delicate sensibilities.

  34. killarue

    It is true that my position is a selfish one, but one I’m positive others who live and work in the downtown are feeling. My point is that tourists come and go, so they don’t have to experience the negative aspects of the development that is obviously meant for these same tourists. So, they get to have their cake and eat it, too, while locals suffer the years of construction. When I think of places that I like to visit on holidays they are typically ones that have retained a sense of the past without being drastically impacted by the narrowmindedness of development i.e. Savannah, Charleston, St.Augustine. Gladly, Asheville does show some resilience to rolling over to developers who mostly don’t live here and are only maximizing profit.I don’t think that tourists will stop visiting if the Ellington isn’t built; and yes, why not build it a little further out from the square. I love how some people embrace development and argue for the rights of the wealthy, as if they need defending. Honestly, I feel that all large construction projects should be controlled RE:time frames, locations to minimize the impact on the surrounding areas. Notice I am not advocating for no progress, I mean construction, but simply a more sensitive approach to the city.

  35. hauntedheadnc

    Okay, so let me get this straight, killarue: You don’t want to ban development outright, just around the square because that’s where it personally inconveniences you. Even if it means that land remains wasted as surface parking. As you’re upset about park construction, it would seem that even building a park on the land would be upsetting to you. Does this mean you also protest plans for redevelopment on The Block, or is that far enough out of your way to be okay? I mean, if it’s not we can just let the buildings there fall down, but I’m sure that would release dust into the air, and that’s one of your biggest complaints about construction. Gosh… I guess you just can’t win.

    Funny you should bring up Savannah and Charleston though. They’ve managed something that still eludes Asheville. They’re tourist towns that are well-preserved, and yet they have an industrial base. They’re both heavy-duty industrial ports. People living down there can actually support themselves by working only one job, and there are jobs down there that don’t involve bonding one’s lips firmly to a tourist’s ass. Wild, isn’t it? Practically unfathomable. That’s another debate aside from the Ellington, but it does touch on the fact that the undeveloped utopias you’re enamored of are actually quite developed after all.

    As far as Asheville goes though, developing downtown in an urban manner, and not restricting downtown development in an attempt to preserve something that you’re too blind to see doesn’t exist, is our path forward. Downtown urban growth is the healthiest growth this city could possibly hope to have, which makes it a good thing for the entire city. It personally inconveniences you, but too bad. You’re not the entire city.

  36. killarue

    I’m not sure whatto respond to your argument or your attitude. Isn’t this a venue for sharing one’s position. Again, I don’t think that I am alone in my position, and you are simply trying to instigate the discussion.
    Yes, Charleston and Savannah have developed a good industry base, but they have preserved the integrity of downtown, but don’t think there weren’t battles there. Are you implying that Asheville doesn’t have something to preserve? Why do you think that people flock here to vacation and live, to sit outside the BB&T;building, from places such as SF, Boulder, etc. Let me tell you why, it is because those places have become too expensive and have lost their original character, which is what is happening here. Your argument seems to contradict itself, my friend.
    I’m not saying that development shouldn’t happen and not even specifically concerned about projects such as the “Ellington”. Though, you seem to take it quite personally. I guess that you have never complained about construction impacting your world and sure you are not concerned about your quality of life.
    There have been numerous construction projects just in the past year that have been protested because of this same quality of life issue. So what you are saying is that citizens of this city should not be concerned about how development effects their lives.
    I’m having a difficult time understanding your position, as you don’t like tourists, but support development for the sake of the transient crowd(yes, those lucrative service jobs definitely provide financial stability to our population). Just what industry are you advocating for downtown other than buildings being built?
    From my experience, cities evolve and cycle,and when I first experienced Asheville twenty plus years ago, this city was a ghost town. You may be surprised to know that I do not share the hatred that others feel about the BB&T;building simply because it was built during a time when this city needed capital investment and it gave promise and hope to a city, I’m assuming here. Sure, it is quite ugly, but it served a necessary purpose. Now at least, developers are demonstrating more conscientious efforts in designing buildings to contribute to the aesthetics of their surroundings, albiet only because they feel it necessary, so we should be thankful for that, but Asheville is not so desperate as it once was. Therefore, it has the distinct advantage to develop in a more thoughtful and careful manner.
    PS As per your remarks on the park’s construction, you are just being silly. Of course, I support the project, but it has been poorly managed and is running over year behind in completion. You should talk to the business owners near the construction site to understand how they feel about the impact on their businesses.

  37. sonjia


    dont get too worked up over hhnc’s comments. he has very little idea of what he is talking about (or her?), but is very astute at personal insults and oversimplifications, as is exemplified here.

  38. hauntedheadnc

    As I said, the issue of developing an industrial base in a beautiful city is another issue aside from the Ellington. The only reason I brought it up was because you brought up Charleston and Savannah as though their downtown was all they had, and as though both cities were perfectly preserved bastions of history when they’re not and when Asheville is not, and when no city can remain such.

    To answer your question, the only construction I’ve complained about is road construction in the suburbs because I know that widening the road will just invite more suburban crap. You only need to head out toward Fairview and Hickory Not Gorge to see is happening. Fairview is going to be one big strip before too long and developers are swarming over Hickory Nut Gorge like maggots on roadkill. I’ve never complained about downtown growth, because downtown growth is what I want to see and I realize that buildings have to — and stay with me here because it can be a tough concept to grasp — be built first. This isn’t Sim City where something just plops down from the sky.

    Although, I will concede that I have complained about the quality of new construction downtown. 21 Battery Park is ugly. 12 South Lexington is ugly. The Griffin Apartments are ugly. The tumor-like condo addition to the S&W;Cafeteria building will be ugly. That’s why I appreciate the steps the Ellington’s developer has taken to give us at least a marginally appealing structure. Could it be better? Of course. Is it the height that’s the problem? Of course not. As I keep repeating, height is not to be feared, only design. If someone wanted to build the tower originally planned for the Grove Arcade or the S&W;, or if someone wanted to build a new Jackson Building or Battery Park Hotel, would you object?

  39. hauntedheadnc

    And yet, sonjia, if I were marching lockstep with the no-growthers on here pulling reasons out of my butt as to why the Ellington is a horrible project that will kill us all while we sleep, but not before robbing all the women and raping all the men, I’d be a genius who should be listened to just like the rest of you NIMBY’s, right?

  40. killarue

    Well, I followed closely and yet you still don’t strengthen your position. Charleston’s center downtown is very well preserved with the industrial growth outside.You seem to feel the only way to grow Asheville is by erecting skyscrapers downtown. Yes, build it and they will come, use and leave, as if businesses are only interested in enjoying the beauty of Asheville. You should take a ride to Greensboro, walk around the downtown and gaze at all the progress. It is a thing of unfettered beauty.
    I have no idea what the costs are for building a skyscraper, but if extension of height to the point depicted in the architect’s artwork is what balances the bottom line, than maybe it should be built somewhere else.
    Again, my original point that I shared was only that construction projects have a way of negatively effecting our daily lives and when do we consider the impact to us when there is no gaps between each new project. Wouldn’t it be nice to occasionally walk around town or drive down a highway without encountering construction, just a thought. If they could build the ‘Ellington’ in a year, I would not so strongly object(maybe to the size, still).
    As for the comment assuming that I am afraid of development and should move to Weaverville, I seem to remember the fight to prevent Wal-Mart from building and Wal-Mart won that battle. And so, even small towns are fighting the negative effects of development, and losing.

  41. hauntedheadnc

    Yes, I do think that dense urban highrise growth is the best way for Asheville to grow. I’m glad you were able to glean that much from what I’ve said at least, although you certainly missed the boat with your jab about Greensboro. I will say it again, slowly this time:

    Height… is… not… the… problem… Design… is… the… problem…

    Did you catch that? What I’m saying is that tall buildings can be great for the city if they’re designed to be beautiful. Sensitive architecture is what we need because the best way to grow is to grow up, not out. I absolutely do not think that the best way to grow is as a vast sea of stumpy little buildings.

    Do you know why? If you cap heights on downtown buildings, when something does get built, the developer is just going to jack up the price of what can be built to the point that he will get the same profit as if he’d been allowed to built more units and sell those units at a lower price. Exactly how badly do you want to gentrify downtown? With what land costs downtown, “affordable” and “short” do not enter the equation. Yes the Ellington is upscale. Yes, the developer should have included the affordable units he’s willing to pay for in the building instead of elsewhere. However, the idea floating around lately of requiring that affordable units be included is going to mean the city cannot stay lowrise because, again, short and affordable are not an option downtown.

    And now, thanks for bringing up the Weaverville Mal-Wart. That’s sprawl, exactly what we do not need. The Ellington is growth, exactly what we do need. Sprawl sucks vitality from a community and feeds off of what is already here, while contributing to traffic and pollution. Growth adds to a community and contributes pedestrians while adding minimally to the problems of traffic and pollution. People have no choice but to drive to the Mal-Wart. People have the choice to walk, or ride a bus or shuttle from and to the Ellington.

    Finally, if you want to drive around town or walk around without encountering construction, are you EVER living in the wrong place. This is a growing city, and that growth is not going to stop because your delicate sensibilities are offended. Keep dreaming.

  42. Emily

    I was born and raised in Asheville. It’s been the only home I’ve ever known. As residences of Asheville it is our responsibility to shape the down town region. If we fail to do so developers will do the job for us. I fear the direction that Asheville is going. I fear development. We think of progress as something that moves us forward, but I believe that progress is what works. When we see the city, a building, a future vision for what those that don’t even liver here want for Asheville we have to ask ourselves “does this work?” Building or no building, I just hope that among all the growth that we can retain the values that have always defined the Asheville I have know.

  43. “If you cap heights on downtown buildings, when something does get built, the developer is just going to jack up the price of what can be built to the point that he will get the same profit as if he’d been allowed to built more units and sell those units at a lower price.”

    This is very true HauntedHeadNC. And you make good points about good design. Design and planning is always the issue. It needs to be done thoughtfully and sensitively. Or else the developers are gonna head out to the meadows.

  44. LOL

    We won’t have to worry about anyone flying a plane into it — that would cause too much air pollution.

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