Council OKs The Ellington

Amidst an overflow crowd, Asheville City Council approved plans for The Ellington at its Oct. 16 meeting, paving the way for construction of what will be the city’s tallest building.

Despite a compromise design from developers that would have eliminated two floors and dropped the height of the building by 31 feet after Council had raised concerns at its Sept. 11 meeting, Council instead voted 6-1 to approve the original 23-story design. Council member Bryan Freeborn, who voted against the building, cited concerns about traffic and pedestrian safety.

The building, slated to be built near the corner of Biltmore Avenue and Aston Street downtown, had it’s share of detractors, who said they believed the building was simply too tall and out of character with that section of downtown, which is mostly dominated by two-story buildings. Opponents also implored Council to least wait until a proposed downtown Master Plan is completed.

However, an equal number of people, many of them downtown business owners, asked for approval of the building, which they said would bring a needed year-round boost to downtown commerce. Council members acknowledged that as well, and many members said they were impressed with the various ways that the developers planned to make the building a model of so-called green building. Such plans would include gaining LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the building, making it the first hotel in the state to earn such a designation, said development representative Lou Bissette.

For full details on The Ellington deliberations and the rest of Council’s Oct. 16 meeting, check out the Oct. 24 edition of Xpress.

— Hal L. Millard, staff writer

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9 thoughts on “Council OKs The Ellington

  1. Emily

    There goes the skyline. Let it be the last of all. It will bring too many people, too much traffic. Whatch, we are becoming another clone city.

  2. Joe

    MountainX just parrots the AC-T here on why Freeborn voted against the Ellington. Robin Cape made a fantastic little speech about why she decided to support it, and I suppose that all of the other members (except for Freeborn) thought that it was fine to let her comments ride for them.

    Freeborn spent quite some time asking questions about traffic and pedestrian safety, but he didn’t actually voice any specific thoughts he had. When MountainX and AC-T say he “cited concerns about traffic and pedestrian safety”, he really didn’t do that in the meeting itself. He just asked questions, and then voted (quickly, and somewhat quietly, I might add) against the project. Someone sitting behind me in the meeting said, “there goes Freeborn’s chance at keeping that seat”. I have no idea how true that might be, but if you’re going to make a stand like he did, how about trying to convince some fellow council members, or at least explain things to the community?

    And I would extend that to the other members of council too–a least a bit. I know the complaints against the Ellington probably don’t resonate with Mumpower, and I can see Jan Davis supporting local businesses as a whole, which would lead to support for the Ellington. But it would have been nice for Holly Jones and Mayor Bellamy to explain why they did not, for example, want to keep the Ellington on hold until the master plan for downtown was completed. (No one answered that question at all).

    And Brownie (who looked like he was battling severe indigestion the entire meeting) made a sort-of self-defeating comment, along the lines of “well, look, this is going to get passed anyway” … as if voting against it would be somehow pointless. But if he was opposed — or for it — talking about why would have been useful. It seemed like he was torn, but, again, really didn’t say much about the project at all.

    And, on a slightly different note, I think the public hero from the meeting was the man from the eagle street/market street business association, who put the race-baiting anti-Ellington commentaries to bed by pointing out that the businesses on the Block unanimously supported the Ellington. And the heroine was certainly the woman from Cafe on the Square (and Burt’s Bees model) who pointed out oh-so-eloquently that perhaps we should be more concerned about supporting the working class in Asheville instead of bitching and moaning about traffic and views (from our recently purchased downtown condo).

  3. Carpe Diem

    The city needs a comprehensive development policy, and builders are taking advantage of this lack of an overarching plan to shove these buildings down our throat. Parking, safe pedestrian paths, public transportation, water use, crime prevention are looming and existing problems that business and city leaders should be addressing with the same haste.

    It all comes down to quick money versus long term planning and solutions. The people who will profit from the Ellington should think about the legacy they are leaving for the children of Asheville.

  4. travelah

    Emily, do you define a clone city as one with buildings higher than your desires? There are already a lot of people and a lot of traffic that is not going to go away but increase instead. Asheville is a fast growing location and if you are looking for a quaint small town you may have to move.

  5. Travelah, the last quaint small town in America went condo last week. … there is a rumor that one still exists somewhere deep in the Amazon rain forest but it is only rumor. ;-)

  6. Jake

    The City Council ended public discussion on this issue prematurely. There were at least 10 people in the room with their hands raised when the mayor closed off discussion. Not one of the council members asked that the public be allowed to continue its comment on the case. Considering the significance of this case, it was WRONG to cut off this discussion, and the mayor and every member of the council is guilty of that wrong.

    C’mon, Asheville, the fix was in, and the developers prevailed once again. This council doesn’t deny approval to any developer. The council can call itself “progressive” all it wants, but as long as it continues to hold the city’s doors wide open to the development interests that are pillaging our community, I’ll know otherwise.

  7. Maneshevitz

    This is really a sordid turn of events. I sincerely trust there will be some kind of public reprisal and manadate against this particular development as well as the copious, incongrouosly disproportionate developments to follow. I’m not against progress but we should build such leviathons as this somewhere in the weakest links of Asheville not the actual epicenter. Also, imagine if you will, the protracted racket of pile-drivers and construction for what will seem like eons as this elitist monster goes up.

  8. been dare done dat

    Yeeeee Haaaaa. I just can’t wait to buy one of these here condomoniums. I just darn ain’t sure of it’s because I like to sleep in a bed that I had rented out to 20 other unknown people each month, because I’m going to get such a fantastic negative return on my investment or because I can tell everybody that my apartment is nicer than theirs!

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