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