City Council to consider Ellington high-rise

The 23-story Ellington hotel and condominium high-rise proposed for 35 Biltmore Ave. will make an appearance before Asheville City Council at its Sept. 11 meeting. Council’s nod to the conditional-use permit would be the final step in the city’s approval process.

Since its unveiling in May by a group of developers that includes the Grove Park Inn, the plan has made its way thorough the preliminary approval processes, with unanimous support by the Technical Review Committee and Planning and Zoning Commission, and a 7-1 vote by the Downtown Commission (Julie Brandt‘s was the only “no” vote.)

The Ellington would mix condominiums and high-end luxury hotel rooms, with retail and restaurant spaces on the ground floor. Project architects hail the building as a blend of classic and modern design, while detractors say the building is out of scale with the rest of downtown. At 305 feet, the Ellington would rival some of Asheville’s tallest buildings.

For Council’s complete agenda, click here.

— Brian Postelle, staff writer


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6 thoughts on “City Council to consider Ellington high-rise

  1. Nam Vet

    Are we going to turn Asheville into a replica of Manhattan? I hope not. I would hope big city transplants would move here because they find Asheville beautiful pretty much as it is. Anyone who wants to change here into there is in the wrong place and should return to where they came from. I love the original Asheville and hate to see it changed radically.

  2. dankster

    Asheville’s soul is being sold. This skyscraper to me is the equivalent of wall*mart being built, only it’s going to happen downtown. This skyscraper does not serve the community in any kind of way other than produce a few low paid servant jobs (it is not going to help save our slopes and deter people from building on slopes). It’s being built as a playground for the elite rich (a gated community right in the heart of downtown). This skyscraper is going to be one big giant sore thumb for years to come. News13 our local news channel is doing a very poor job of covering these developments of this skyscraper being built in downtown – Why is That ? Wheres the coverage informing the public. To most this whole thing is going to come as a surprise didn’t see it coming. Asheville was and still is a great city without such a skyscraper and buildings being built. bigger does not mean better. One last thought it absolutely seems like the mayor and commission is absolutely not listening to the public on this issue. The majority of the public is saying NO !.

  3. RHS586

    The problem is that the aforementioned “big city transplants” to Asheville help to turn Asheville into the places they escaped from, whether they want to or not, simply by moving here since they all need a place to live. Short of preventing people from moving here, which is impossible, I don’t know what the answer is.

    I’m not particularly thrilled with the project but whenever I hear somebody say they moved to Asheville to get away from hyper development and now it is going on here it takes a considerable amount of energy to maintin the manners I was taught as a kid and refrain from pointing out that it is now happening here because people are doing the same thing they did — moving here. At least City Council, judging from last night’s meeting, is going to demand the project be scaled back a bit before giving its approval. The previous Council would have simply given it the same rubber stamp it always gave developers.

  4. hauntedheadnc

    How exactly do folks with you all’s mindset ever manage to navigate downtown when you have your hands clapped over your eyes? I’d think if you tried that you’d crash your car or trip over a panhandler, but if you’re not seeing the tall buildings that are already there, that’s the only explanation I can think of. The Jackson Building, the courthouse and city hall, the BB&T;Building, Public Service Building, Renaissance Hotel, and the granddaddy of them all, the Battery Park Apartments. They’ve been here a long time. Tall buildings are not a new concept in Asheville.

    And please don’t talk to me about the “small town charm.” Asheville is not a small town. It is the urban hub for a metro region of more than 300,000 people.

    Could the Ellington be improved? Certainly. It’s boxy, lumpy, and disjointed, and is neither enough neo, nor is it enough deco to truly justify the name. It could be streamlined, and its greeting to the street could be vastly improved. Also, it’s not necessary to bulldoze the little abandoned building now on the site. It could be restored, and a little plaza could be built on the vacant lot fronting Biltmore. Those are the changes I’d make personally. But height? Height is nothing to fear. Design is the problem, not height. With better design, tall buildings can be a boon to the city.

    Besides, we’re also all forgetting the the developers of the Ellington are willing to contribute more than a million dollars to a fund for affordable downtown housing. We’re also forgetting, in all these rants against change, that Asheville has been changing for quite some time now. You were aware that there used to be a considerable hill where the Grove Arcade and Battery Park Apartments now sit? No? Well, the hill was removed, as was the palatial Victorian hotel that stood atop it, and the fill was used to fill in a valley atop which Coxe Avenue now runs. All the buildings that now stand on Pack Square replaced other, shorter buildings. There used to be a lovely Victorian fire station where the Midpark is now located.

    And are we forgetting that several skyscrapers were planned for downtown before the Great Depression hit and nixed those plans?

    Let me sum it up. Asheville is a city, not Mayberry. It already has tall buildings, and would have had more had the stock market not crashed and sent people leaping to their deaths from the tops of those tall buildings. There is nothing wrong with height, only design, and tall, mixed-use, sensitively-designed buildings are the best growth Asheville could possibly hope for. You can dream of stopping growth outright, but you’ll have to wake up eventually, so the smart thing to do would be to get with the program and start supporting good growth. And good growth is downtown growth.

  5. hauntedheadnc

    Here’s another thought. The most basic understanding of economics will tell you that if you have a product whose quantity is unchanged, yet demand for that product is rising, the price of that product will rise.

    If you preserve downtown in amber, the product’s quantity — the number of commercial and residential spaces will stay the same while demand rises, and demand is rising. You won’t just open the door to widespread gentrification, you’ll blow it off its hinges. Likewise if the city institutes height caps and demands that developers build squatty little buildings that won’t offend those of you who avert your eyes and forbid the mention of the Battery Park Apartments in your homes in your fervor to pretend that tall buildings don’t exist in Asheville. Land downtown costs a lot, and if you limit the height of new development, and thus limit the number of units that can be built, developers will only jack up the prices of what they can build, and that will price normal people out of downtown.

    The only way to grow and have a shot at retaining affordability is to allow developers to pack in a lot of product onto a little space. Hence, tall buildings. Allowing tall buildings is also the only way that people like Elaine Lite can realistically require developers to include affordable housing in new downtown projects. “Affordable” and “short” are not compatible, not downtown.

    Again, it’s design we should concern ourselves with, not height. Tall buildings can be beautiful, and just as Elaine Lite wants to legislate affordability into new downtown construction, the city can legislate good architecture downtown as well. It should, and we should embrace the beautiful tall buildings, where commercial spaces, high-dollar condos and affordable apartments are all mixed together, that can result of it.

  6. the henge

    This is in response to hauntedheadnc. WAKEUP where excactly do you have your hands because it sounds like they are in the pockets of the greedy out of town money grubers that are trying to buy their way into Asheville for their own gain, then leave us with the mess after they have raped us for all they can.You are correct this is not mayberry ,but guess what ITS NOT MIAMI either,this is whats wrong with this country and what is eating away at the heart of this beautiful town ,money and greed, just because your bank account is bigger does not mean you can throw your perceived weight around, arrogance is showing its ugly head along with your rich little boys and girls from down south. I have the answer to this problem GO HOME and take your stuck up noses with you!Asheville does not need your dirty money and I am betting if we took a vote the general working public does not want you here either,of course you probably cannot understand what I am saying because you and your type do not work,you just like spending daddys money at the expense of others and sticking your nose in the air because you stand out like a dead carp on a hot sidewalk. I for one along with others do not want the sight and smell that goes along with it.There was plans at one time for bigger buildings but thankfully people saw how they were going to change Asheville in a negative way and said no!It is time again for the public to take a stand against this destruction and to live in peace with our mountain neighbors ,and enjoy the eclectic ,peaceful community that we are blessed to call our home.My advice would be go invade another town ,and please take your money and cronnies with you becauseyou are not welcome

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