Modified Parkside to avoid City Council hearing ***UPDATED WITH NEW ILLUSTRATION***

***UPDATE, Thursday, 11:30 p.m.: The developer’s company has provided a new rendition of how it says the shorter Parkside would look. That illustration is reproduced here. To see a a rendering of the previous, taller design, click here.***

Developer Stewart Coleman has asked Asheville city staff to pull the controverisal Parkside condominium proprosal from the June 10 City Council agenda, and he plans to submit a new design two stories shorter than the original.

The alteration reduces the building’s square footage to a point below the threshold for a Level III design review, and therefore it will not require a public hearing or vote by City Council.

According to e-mails between Coleman and Interim Planning Director Shannon Tuch, the removal of two floors from the 11-story structure will drop its square footage to 99,380 square feet (Tuch said that number reflects only aboveground space and not the three underground parking levels).

In his e-mail, Coleman says he will submit the new design to the city on Wednesday in hopes for consideration by the Technical Review Committee at its June 16 meeting. In March, the TRC approved the original design with a few conditions.

The e-mail from Coleman to the city and Tuch’s response are below. Click here to go to Xpress Files and download a PDF of the documents.

Brian Postelle, staff writer

————————————————————————————————————————

From: Sail6448@aol.com
Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 2:23 PM
To: Shannon Tuch
Subject: Parkside Condominium

Shannon Tuch
Acting Director
Planning and Zoning
City of Asheville
Asheville, NC 28801
 
Re: Parkside Condominium
    90 Court Plaza
    Asheville, NC 28801

Dear Shannon:
  In regard to our telephone conversation today, Parkside Condominium LLC would like to request that our application for the project be amended to remove two floors from our original design. With the reduction of our gross square footage, it appears to us that our building now falls within the Level II design review category. If you agree that we will no longer be required to go before City Council for the Public Hearing, we ask that you please remove us from the June 10, 2008 City Council Agenda. Our amended Application will be submitted on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 for the TRC meeting on June 16, 2008. If there are any questions regarding this request please feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience.
Sincerely yours,

Stewart B Coleman

————————————————————————————————————————

From: Shannon Tuch
Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 2:58 PM
To: ‘Sail6448@aol.com’
Cc: Alan Glines
Subject: RE: Parkside Condominium

Stewart,

Thank you for this update.  Per our conversation, provided the resulting building is less than 100,000 square feet then the application will be modified to a reflect a Level II project and no public hearing would be required.

You indicated that removing two stories would reduce the building to approximately 99,380 square feet (not including the parking structure) – pending confirmation of these numbers, this would indeed be a Level II project.

Regards,

Shannon Tuch

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15 thoughts on “Modified Parkside to avoid City Council hearing ***UPDATED WITH NEW ILLUSTRATION***

  1. Gordon Smith

    I guess somebody couldn’t count four votes.

    Coming in just under 100k is quite the neat equation. I wonder if shaving two floors off got him there, or if he had to eliminate some of the building that’s in the view corridor.

    Either way, you can bet that his reckoning of the final square footage will become a quick issue. With his growing reputation for fudging the facts, we’ll certainly need an independent voice to confirm.

    Design folks, you can count this as a victory.

    Process folks, there’s miles yet to go.

  2. Travis

    So, according to Coleman, anyone who doesn’t want him to plop down his ugly, hulking condo mass right next to our park is a foolish, hippy, tree-hugger? That is an insult to tree-huggers and it is an insult to everyone else in this city. He obviously has a disdain for this city and is just trying to make a few cheap bucks off of us. He KNOWS there are ALOT more than 80 people out there who are opposed to him and his attitude, so he is trying to take it out of the realm of democracy. This should end now. A person with so much disdain for Asheville and it’s people should not be given such a revered spot in our beloved city.

  3. Gordon Smith

    Revolu,

    Well it’s certainly not tickertape worthy, but two floors have been knocked off. It’s got to go through the TRC, Downtown Commission, and P&Z;hoops again. The Conservancy will continue to demand that those groups force Coleman into compliance with the Pack Guidelines for building on the park.

  4. Bob Eckstein

    Perhaps the time is now right to revisit the distinction between Level II and Level III designation.

    Is the square footage division appropriate? Now the downtown land is so scarce, perhaps this line should be revised downward.

    Perhaps downtown projects should pass some additional test, besides structural – such as ALWAYS requiring public comment and a council vote, by virtue of centrality of location.

    Just some thoughts

  5. Gordon Smith

    Withdrawing any intimation that the Coleman shrinkage was a design victory – it was just a way to loophole around City Council.

    My bad.

  6. Ed Gunn

    This controversy has already apparently disappeared from the C-T forepages!

    Coleman should be held accountable on several issues. To cite 3:

    In 2108 will there be adequate space (overlook?) for admirers to view Asheville’s City Hall, among the ten notable art deco structures erected in a skyscraper style, unique to the U.S.?

    What guarantee (stiff fine or demolition orders — not unknown in other cities)) are Asheville’s citizens guaranteed of the outcome, given that their touristic income depends on whether Coleman’s “Parkside” proposal is built according to plan (despite the polished renderings of his Battery Park condominiums versus the wall of concrete realized, depressing the once visually viable streetscape)?

    Doesn’t the dearth of parks downtown (not to be confused with anger about “sparse” parking), and the legacy of the land fronting governmental buildings indicate that the (illegal, sacricial?) sale of even limited acreage by Buncombe County may taint resultant realty, and indeed render any future sale subject to eventual possible successful appeal?

    Why are developers in Asheville so given to cutting corners (and selling themselves short) when they’ve been dealt such a winning hand?

    Asheville is positioned somewhere between the heritage of Charleston, Savannah, and Miami Beach, but remains so remarkably complacent, primarily governmentally, about its historic architectural heritage. If the city acted to value its most notable assets, it would likely surpass them, with its mountains — tour guides already suggest that it will. Why allow a realized architectural heritage to be overshadowed?

    Who might now object if I.M. Pei’s “Akzona” Building on north Pack Square were proposed on the same site? (And why did Pei accept the commission, despite the demolition it caused? Perhaps he decided not to resist a city filled with “hidden” architectural monuments, which he knew would gain renown.)

    The retrograde design by Coleman’s architect is banal. He must know that to build superbly, as inspired by Vanderbilt and Grove, requires an intellect for surpassing beauty.

    The easiest way has been chosen, through the usual familiar channels of oiled governmental approvals (or configuring their bypass) and slick published renderings, all made obvious by the “sudden” acquiescence to sink barely below the 100,000 square foot marker — an obvious skirt of a public forum.

    While Coleman may be accused of avarice and complacency, he is not alone: The Buncombe County Commissioners not only sold him the “small” parcel for Parkside Condominiums, they also are having erected an 8-story parking garage opposite the same park, blind to the possibilities of that site (and the rising cost of gas) — they’ve even approved another 8-story parking structure on Coxe Avenue).

    If all proposed projects for downtown Asheville are built as designed, perhaps excepting the needed apartments on the “South Slope,” then the Downtown Commision’s recent appeal for input may be (as a decrease in tourism could soon prove) a lame-duck response to already transparent failures to save what could / might have been, yeah, another Paris. And the Parkside Condominium’s, even partial, coverage of vistas of City Hall will prove telling.

    Hyperbole? The Courthouse is the height it is because it was planned for a city the size of Miami. Now, suddenly, Asheville is again at that threshold. And suddenly it happens that humans can live “greener” together, even if dependent on their surroundings (yet perfect for mountain agriculture).

    Yet cities come and go, depending on their allure, and they always will. Why have Asheville’s leaders not been able to see this for nearly a century? I guess Asheville needs a Medici instead of a Coleman — perhaps that’s what it’s had in years before, yet the thought is not currently warming.

    I guess the most interesting point could be that Coleman will live (comfortably for a while) in a large house in an Asheville suburb, with money spent by the wealthy to move to Asheville, and eventually…. well, ten years ago the wealthy would’ve moved on, but now they may need to sublet a bedroom to buy gas and groceries to pay Coleman who will need to pay his lenders (comfortably for a while).

  7. ah yes. gordon i looked into this as well and it seems to be a strategy of many of the buildings going up. keep it under 100K and you don’t have to to the council. trying to keep the skyline as low as possible i guess, but a loop hole to be sure.

  8. The Wine Mule

    Ten stories, five stories, two stories: It’s not relevant. The land deal was crooked; the project should be stopped and I hope will be stopped by a favorable outcome in the Pack family’s lawsuit against Coleman.

    I am not against development. I am in favor of stopping backroom deals that skirt the law.

  9. Low Key

    I just want to echo what The Wine Mule said:

    The building itself isn’t the issue. I am not against development. I am in favor of stopping backroom deals that skirt the law.

    This is going to be built on my community’s land without my community’s input.

  10. This Level II/III loophole in the UDO might just become the thorn in the side of Asheville, and result in a massive windfall for our region.

    If we continue to have controversial projects that avoid counsel and public hearings by going Level II that does in fact mean people are going to build out and not up.

    City Counsel needs to discuss & define what is Asheville’s policy on city skylines and sightliness. If this area is only going to continue to grow, as many believe it will, then it seems, to me, much wiser to build higher and not sprawl out between townships.

    We need to preserve as much green-space as possible in our city and in this region. Greenery and trees are proven to act as a natural filter for carbon dioxide and help with a cooling effect. Whatever scientific report you may read, global warming is happening and we need as much of these natural cooling filters as possible to continue providing a healthy quality of life for the residents of this region. Thus, build up, not out.

    – – – – –

    I hope many of you who are commenting on these forums and seem to be passionate about Asheville’s future progress will be coming to one of the three Community Downtown Master Plan sessions this weekend.

    Friday – from 6-8pm at the Asheville Community Theatre – discussing current issues in downtown development.

    Sat – 10am-3pm at the Randolph Learning center is the BIG community downtown master plan workshop – where everyone gets a fair say and participates in the planning process.

    Sun from 12-3pm at 29 Haywood St in the Office of Economic Dev will be a a drop in session and review of the workshop plan.

    Saturday is the big day if you can make it.
    I hope to see a lot of you creative thinkers and vocal community members there!
    This is YOUR chance!

  11. i wish i could be there. that new image is comical. it aligns with the ridgeline in the background. but from what i remember, i don’t think the ridgeline can be seen from there.

    -b

  12. William P Miller

    Whatever happened to the brouhou about the land sale in the first place? Didn’t this land sale constitute a violation of the Pack family’s original gift to the people of Asheville? Anyone remember who voted for the sale of this land?

  13. Barry Summers

    As of Monday, June 2, Parkside will not be on the June 16 TRC agenda. Apparently, Coleman’s application to go to Level II review (which takes City Council out of the equation) left out a few details, and was not completed by the deadline. One of those details is the Owners Affidavit from the County allowing Coleman to use county land for his road-building and staging. It specified that the project had to be reviewed by City Council. Oops.

    County Manager Wanda Greene, who signed the first Affidavit on her own authority, is apparently unwilling to take the political heat of enabling a private developer to short-circuit the City review process. She has told the City Planning office that it will require a vote at the Board of Commissioners.

    The June 3 agenda has no Parkside-related vote on it, and according to the County Clerk, none will be added. The soonest the County can vote to support Coleman’s end-run around City Council is June 17th, and THAT puts him past the deadline for the next TRC meeting, as well. The soonest Parkside can go before the TRC for review is now July 21st, and that assumes that the County publicly votes to support taking City Council out of reviewing a building that will LITERALLY be built right on their own doorstep.

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