Welcome to The Ellington: A new high-rise for Asheville?

A group of investors on Monday unveiled plans for a new, 23-story luxury high-rise in downtown Asheville. And while the sucker is big, it stands apart from the rather pedestrian new condos and other major construction that has taken place downtown in recent years.

The Ellington, dubbed a luxury-boutique hotel by the investors — which include the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa — honors the legacy of Art Deco maestro Douglas Ellington, the man behind some of the city’s most intriguing buildings, including City Hall, First Baptist Church, S&W Cafeteria, and Asheville High School.

As planned, the building proposed for 35 Biltmore Ave. (close to Doc Chey’s restaurant) would include 48 condos, 125 oversized, upscale hotel rooms and four rooftop penthouses. On the ninth floor, where the hotel would end and the condos begin, there would be a restaurant, a bar, a pool and a terrace overlooking Asheville.

The concept is just beginning the long, hard slog through the city’s permitting and approval process. Though the size of the structure will likely be challenged, since it would basically become the dominant building on the city’s skyline, the investors have promised certain qualities likely to win converts other than the beauty of the building itself. From environmentalists to housing advocates to artists and their patrons, investors have sweetened the proposal in such a way that might make it hard to oppose it.

First, patrons and residents would have full privileges at the Grove Park and the resort says it will invest in energy-efficient shuttles to carry those people back and forth 16 hours a day, so as to cut down on congestion and pollution. A shuttle system also would transport employees. Additionally, the structure would also be built to so-called green-building standards. As for housing, the investors have committed to creating a nonprofit fund that would collect a portion of the sales price of all real-estate components related to the hotel and condos for a period of 75 years—money that would be earmarked exclusively for workforce housing within the city.

The hotel also sees itself as an arts showcase, with a large mural along one side and various displays and mixed media celebrating local arts. For instance, pedestrian areas along Aston and Lexington avenues would feature large, lighted shadow-box displays of the local arts scene.

And the investors see a bottom-line impact as well: The hotel would create 100 new jobs, and generate an estimated $1.5 million in property taxes, $805,000 in sales taxes, and $320,000 in room taxes annually.

For a complete report on the proposed building, check out the May 30 edition of Xpress.

—Hal L. Millard, staff writer


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61 thoughts on “Welcome to The Ellington: A new high-rise for Asheville?

  1. about time Asheville got a new highrise… it’s been like 40 years since the Northwestern Bank Building (now BB&T) was built.

    us folk in the county LOVE to see Asheville go UP instead of trying to annex us. ;-)

  2. mandoman

    Eh, well, given the choice of two evils, urban infill is more acceptable than sprawling out. “Green” urban infill can be a very positive thing, when done right. Urban infill for the people, ie mixed use retail, underground parking, and ample opportunities for first time buyers is also good. I wouldn’t worry, though, I recently spoke with a construction estimator that was involved in the pre-con phase of a high rise project for an international developer interested in building here in Asheville– they wisely backed out. Why? Too expensive to build due to a lack of local commercial subcontractors capable of building a project that size. They all would have to come from Charlotte, the mega-developer wisely backed out.

  3. cheryljay

    I am not one who buys this hoax that building up stops sprawl. I think the building is out of scale with other buildings downtown. It should not be the dominant structure downtown.

    Like Washington, D.C. who does not allow any building to go higher than the Monument, Asheville, needs to set some height limits. Nothing above the courthouse as far as I am concerned.

    I think some of the other features such as part of the real estate tax on the building goes towards affordable housing, the green aspect are good and shows they are getting the message and listening to some of the concerns in Asheville.

  4. depends what those “green” aspects are. there are no specifics listed.
    there is very little that could be done that could make the a building like that “green”
    maybe they’ll paint it green.

  5. suzyb

    The height of this proposed building is far too tall. In my opinion, the BB&T Building looks out of place in the city skyline and the proposed Grove Park Inn Building will be even taller. I also don’t believe this new design fits in with the existing beautiful old art deco buildings located downtown.

    I hope City Council will also take a close look at the employment benefits touted by the developer before approving the project. Once the construction has been completed, most of the long term jobs added by this project will be service industry jobs paying around $8-$10 per hour. Asheville already has an abundance of hospitality jobs available.

  6. Suzyb… if we build several tall buildings, then you will not perceive the BB&T building to be out of place. ;-)

    I say let’s go for it. Up, not OUT.

  7. mandoman

    ” there is very little that could be done that could make the a building like that “green” ” Silverman, your either confused or don’t know what green building is. About half of all green house emissions are from buildings. There are tons of things that can be done to certify a building green. Go ahead, hit me with your all emotive non-rational tree hugger tirade. I agree with Suzy B. If people want to build here, there should be height limitations. “Land of the Sky” or whatever, lets keep that. Soon enough green building will be law. It already is for public projects in DC, which is causing quite a ripple nationally. A lot of private developers are heading that way, too, as it is fiscally rewarding. More and more incentives are being offered. So if a developer wants to build a height restricted, green, urban infill project that has some positive long-term economic impact, that is great. Or the hippies can pout and whine about infill, cus they really dont know *^&% from shinola other than Mother Jones buzzwords, and watch sprawl occur as opposed to infill and reuse.

  8. Ron Volk

    Wake up and smell the coffee ya’all. In the last 5 years traffic has gotten much worse downtown, but you ain’t seen nothin compared to when this and all the other projects come on line. And then there is the parking problem. Oh yeah, they will provide studies (that they pay for) to tell you there will be less traffic and plenty extra parking. I’ve been there and done that in Miami Beach. Build it and they will come. They sure will and then THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD. Good ole Asheville will be lookin like every other over built city with traffic jams, franchises, overcrowding adn parking problems way before those extra taxes give you anything. ANd if they are even thinking of doing a condo hotel on the upper floors…. this type of investment has already proven to be the best bang for the buck for the developers and the worst investment for the consumer. But who am I to tell you anyway, you are going to find out for yourself! STOP THIS PROJECT BEFORE IT GETS CONTAGIOUS. ONCE THEY ALLOW ONE MANY MORE WILL FOLLOW! Come on Asheville, you are smarter than that,.I know it!

  9. AVL FRK

    The proposed Ellington, in its entire splendor, is just a romantic notion with the scale as ridiculous as it is. It will swallow the surrounding architecture …speak about building walls that separate a community…Where does cohesive-design fit in? It’s a square-peg-in-a-round-hole concept… Build up, yes, but geez, it’s so big! It will hurt Asheville more than compliment her delicate hometown nature.

    I wonder why the folks at the Grove continue hanging their self-important over sized ideas over Asheville’s city center; it’s obvious they want a dominant downtown presence. Why not give them Pritchard Park and let them put their management skills to work? Now that’s a challenge they can play with!

    Come on GP-are you sure you’re not dealing with some deep rooted Napoleon issues?

  10. mandoman…

    just because something can be certified “green” does not mean anything.

    just ask the USDA and their new Organic certification.

    or are you one of thoise prius drivers who think that they farts smell great?

    the only thing that should be considered “Green” is something that is produced with local products. namely mud and trees. and maybe not having three-car garadges for all your new prius’

  11. mandoman

    silverman– this is the typical, baseless lack of understanding of current green building that is seemingly completely unresearched. Relating it to organic food, or a hybrid car, is not relevant. Green building, and LEED certification has become the law for multiple cities for public work construction, namely Washington DC. Most public agencies are already building green– http://www.ncgreenbuilding.org/site/ncg/public/show_project.cfm?project_id=67
    Here is a NC public school project, for example. Here are the different levels of green building– http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=220
    Green building has become the way for all young construction professionals, it is not a government trend, is is actually viewed as a viable form of building both short and long term, as it is proving to be more cost efficient from cradle to grave. As we know, these kinds of decision come down to money. If they want to do this infill project, and build it green, that is a positive. Trust me, something will be built. Asheville is overdue for infill, and needs it. Old utilities and old buildings doing all kind of things to the environment need to be removed or abated, and are responsible for 50% of total greenhouse emissions. As said, I think the building is too tall, I do not believe that developers should be allowed to build taller than city hall. As you mentioned to me, you build sustainable housed from straw and what not, in a micro sense, that is fine, on a macro sense, it doesn’t have nearly the effect for the environment of urban infill done green. Commercial construction is not comparable to the type of construction you do, and obvioulsy has a much more significant impact. You will not be able to stop development, so the goal should be to split the difference in a rational manner. Bashing peoples attempts to build green is irrational and just plain dumb. Your concept of green is very traditional, and might work if society was structured as say, the Pennsylvania Dutch, but we’re not. Anybody who would bash the commercial construction movement towards green building is an enemy of the environment, not a steward. I’m assuming that you are just uninformed.

  12. Ron Volk

    If we can’t stop development, then we should adhere to the existing zoning ordinances and not allow any variances. We need a City ordinance that says that any variances from the existing zoning ordiances should be subject to a vote by the citizens. It’s that simple.

  13. Sloggerman

    It’s unbelievable how one side a whole town can become. I grew up in and around Asheville and I’d venture to say that most of Asheville’s downtown residents or near to downtown residents are not what we’d call locals at all. But each and every one of the love to talk like they’re protecting a life long relative.

    Downtown was once considered to be the Paris of the South for its forward thinking and openness to worldly ideas and welcoming nature to becoming a bustling city.

    Every time some developer attempts to continue this tradition, all these “locals” come out to fight the big bad “evil” developer. I don’t know if it’s because they are afraid their “secret” spots will soon be swarmed by other new “locals” or if they just hate the idea that this big bad developer is actually going to turn a profit.

    If the concern is crowed or cramped downtown conditions, then you should probably think about no going to any downtown… ever!

    The idea of a “Center City” is mostly just that… to have a centrally located area, where people can work, and dine and enjoy various types of entertainment and visit galleries and shops and enjoy a day or evening out. Or maybe enjoy an entire 24 hour lifestyle. A Center City is not a place to concern yourself with parking or the lack there of. The only people who normally worry about parking in any downtown… is those that are just “visiting” and that include all of you that are driving in from just outside of town.

    If you’re gonna down development… especially in any downtown area, including Downtown Asheville, you should probably come up with a better argument that just these. Asheville wouldn’t have its beloved “historical” buildings without this exact methodology of the “evil” developer.

  14. Ron Volk

    Slogerman, I mostly agree with you. Every citizen has equal rights to our downtown. Seniority does not count here. It should be the citizens to have the ultimate say in the matter. And the citizens deserve both a sufficient amount of time and the guidance of professional and experienced people that are careful and wise enough to project the complete impact of each and every development, individually and collectively. And this is exactly the opposite of what a developer wants. A building lasts forever and once it’s up, it’s usually too late to turn back. So what’s the rush. Asheville certainly is not going to be anything for the worse without an immediate approval.

  15. Ron Volk

    Sloggerman, would you be willing to share with the readers what benefits you personally would realize from the development of this project?

  16. Here’s an interesting concept… the builders of the Ellington are investing multi-millions of dollars in downtown Asheville.

    It’s THEIR property and THEIR money.

    They have every right to build whatever they wish.

    We should just look up and say “Thank you for making Asheville better. Thank you for adding the first new skyscraper in 40 years to our glorious growing city!”

  17. mandoman

    “It’s THEIR property and THEIR money.” Are you on the take with the developer? What kind of an attitude is that? Sounds like China or something. Part of being a quality city in the USA, or perhaps the “Paris of the South,” would directly involve what the community wants and needs. Again, I am for development, all the way. Smart development, which involves community input, amongst other things. On that concept, I think I might build a six floor modular on my not in West Asheville, paint it hot pink, and put a 20 foot diameter satellite dish on my roof. It’s my money and my property, right?

  18. Ron, no law against blocking sunlight… think of it as enhanced shade.

    Anyone bringing $85 million into downtown Asheville is to be commended, not obstructed by nebulous concepts like viewsheds, etc.

  19. Mandoman, as a longtime resident (and native) of this area, I’ve seen Asheville go through a lot of hard times. Ever wonder WHY we’ve had no highrises in 40 years?

    In general, I believe we DO NOT want to the “Paris of the South” … we want to have a vibrant, economically viable city. The Ellington is one such milestone to that end.

  20. Ron Volk

    Bringing $85 million dollars to Asheville sounds nice. So I will ask you the same question that I ask to Sloggerman. I am curious to know how you think this will benefit you or your family?

  21. mandoman

    Ron– yep. Long term economic impact? Office space would be nice. Office space=jobs. Luxury condos and a hotel=more service industry jobs, which we have an abundance of, which typically barely cut the cost of living. Offices offering more opportunities for professional jobs and entrepeneurism would impress me. In the short term (construction) the economic impact would be minimal, as I know for a fact, the majority of the subcontractors would be coming from Charlotte. I know this because this is what I do for a living, and as previously mentioned in this thread, had shot down other proposed projects in the recent past. The Ellington will not contribute to the economic viability of Asheville. Personally, I beleive it will detract from it by continuing to develop the ever-widening financial gap in this area. As is, it will do nothing for the regular folks, the people that are our community.

  22. Sloggerman

    First and foremost… I have absolutely no affiliation with the Ellington nor its development team nor any interest in the project over what every other business owner in Downtown has. Which is the increase of the high value tax base as well as the increase in possible foot traffic and business to ALL locally owned and operated establishments.

    I am in TOTAL agreement that anything placed in a public environment should inherently carry some responsibility to interact and respond positively to its surroundings. But, does that mean that all buildings downtown should look the same or be of the same nature? If this true, how long does it take Asheville to turn into the bland city that Atlanta has become?

    If difference and “non conformity” is discouraged on the ideals of “its too tall” or “it doesn’t belong” or “it’ll detract from the other architecture” then we’d never have buildings like the Bilbao Museum in Spain or many of Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings or Le Corbusier’s.

    Asheville, was and is a eclectic grouping of architecture, and complaining that another eclectic building is proposed seems preposterous. How can a city made of up architecture that is traditional, and modern and art deco and industrial and on and on, turn it’s nose up at any other type of work? Are we saying you can be eclectic as long as you’re over a hundred years old?

    The problem as you say, that developers was to move as quickly as possible is however a financial issue, not an architectural issue. The question I would ask any readers would be this… if you had 4 or 5 million dollars invested in a property you were attempting to develop, that was ramping up interest every day, how quickly would you like the process to move? Interest whether on a car loan, or credit card or multimillion dollar project, mounts quickly and affects everything and everyone the same way.

    As far as, personal property rights go… there is just such a thing to protect neighboring property owners from having their property value diminished by another… they’re call Zoning Ordinances. Each and every piece of property within any city limits falls under some sort of ordinance, that each property owner agrees to with the purchase of the property. As long as what you propose to accomplish on your own property does not violate these agreed upon regulations then YES, you can put up a six floor modular and paint it pink and place a 20 foot satellite on top of it. It’s called freedom and liberty, and it’s sorta what the country is based on.

  23. mandoman

    Furthermore, I can’t help but think that the reason why we haven’t had a high rise constructed in 40 years, beyond a lack of economic viability, could very well be that the one that we have is commonly known as a public eye sore. At least its not 24 floors. The kind of downtown that you are talking about, where you don’t need a car to live takes significant planning from the city in conjunction with the community and developers. It takes first time buyer incentives, underground parking, mixed use projects, public transit, and green space to name a few. In my opinion, San Diego is the front runner of this kind of “city of the future” urban infill. To give you an idea of what this takes, here you go– http://www.ccdc.com/

  24. Ron Volk

    I’m on your side Mandoman. I think it’s the usual great sales job by the developer and the community isn’t going to gain anything positive from a building of this size. Rather the community will be negatively impacted by increased traffic and parking problems, noise, environmental issues and the reduced sunlight. I move to declare the Red Double Deck Bus as Historic.

  25. Sloggerman

    I’m confused… are you REALLY complaining about having too many jobs? This “build it an they will come” attitude is hugely naive. Business don’t relocate just because there is suddenly empty space. Relocating is a enormously expensive undertaking at any scale. Attracting a company to move into the area is based on one thing. MONEY… not empty office space. You can’t hope to attract business by just having space for them.

    Instrumental to any business relocation is finances… Will the City/State grant them tax advantages for relocating, money. Will they have a larger pool of available employees they can draw from, thus decreasing the amount of salary they have to pay, money. Will the move increase their public status and or their image, which in turn would give them a higher business volume and profits, money. Having available space is almost unimportant in the scheme of things. How exactly do you think Atlanta and Charlotte have lured so many companies to relocate? Huge tax advantages and incentives… I’m almost sure that there would be huge uproar in town if Asheville ever dared to attempt to lure a new company to the area by allowing them to not pay taxes!

    As for this lack of local contractors… this is really a non issue I think. I’ll take a wild guess and say that percent of local contractors capable of doing this type of work is probably directly proportional to the percent of this type of construction in the last 40 years. Call me crazy. And while is relatively easy to say the local economy would not be affected, it’s a bit untrue. A construction job of this sort requires a lot of material, including perishable items such as concrete. That’s generally hard to contract from an outside vendor. One of the largest concrete block plants in the area is based right out of Asheville, and I’m sure they’ll be a few blocks used in this type of project. And while most of the contract firms will probably be outside firms… most would use local workers to save from having to house employees for the 18 to 24 months during construction.

    And we can forget about trying to build a “car-less” city. We’re not in any way ready to allow our city to spend the kind of money to make that happen. But I do believe that anyone living and working down town, is probably not gonna drive the five or six or eight blocks between downtown locations when they could simply walk and not have to find parking. Call me crazy!

  26. Ron, I think the Ellington might very well benefit one or more of the companies I own by generating extra business and therefore benefiting my family and others.

    BUT… you miss the point here. This is America. Property rights still count. So long as they are not damaging their neighbors, people can and should be able to build whatever they want and can afford to build on THEIR PROPERTY.

    Whether it benefits me, or you, or anyone else other than the owners is immaterial. Period.

  27. Mandoman, forget the “public eyesore” argument.

    a) it is not

    b) no one worried about that in the past, Asheville is a pretty haphazard place with very little planning

    c) no highrises were built because there was not enough people or business to warrant.

    d) thanks to all you flatlanders pouring in here, now there is.

    e) do not expect thanks

  28. mandoman

    Author– I would stick to journalism. Your comments discredit you as a journalist. You make yourself out to be very slanted. The notions that your present stand to make your mountain oasis a toilet.

  29. Mandoman, who said I was a journalist? I am a writer. That probably means I am LESS slanted. ;-) I am only constrained by the truth, not an editorial board made up of the drive-by media (now THAT’s slanted!).

    And what is wrong with standing in defense of your homeland against a horde of invaders?

    Nothing, methinks.

  30. mandoman

    Your an idiot. Your calling your readership “invaders.” You should be concerened with the wrong kinds of development, based on that notion. You don’t know the truth, clearly you know nothing of development, positive or negative. Your concern appears to be your wallet. You should write about what you know, or do your research better, or refrain from comment. Keep writing about entertainment. Write for FOX network, your a fit. What a joke. Your represent Mountainx very, very poorly. Pitiful.

  31. Ron Volk

    Author, I agree again with Mandoman. And I feel you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  32. a) I do not represent Mountain Express at all. What makes you think I do?

    b) I have almost certainly done more research than you, at least judging by the exchange so far.

    c) I am far from an “idiot” and I would never characterize anyone as such based on a brief online exchange.

    d) I understand that the word ‘you’re’ (a contraction of ‘you are’ is not spelled ‘your’. Saying something like “Your an idiot” takes a good deal of the punch out of said statement.

    Reminds me of the time someone else was trying to insult me, saying I was “the mere epitome of a man.” I am… I am.


    P.S. … so, when do I start working for Fox?

  33. hauntedheadnc

    The fact of the matter is that Asheville is going to grow, like it or not. It will either grow up, or it will sprawl out, and as far as I’m concerned, 50 condos in a building downtown will house 50 families or single residents not living in 50 houses on 50 acres of former forest in Leicester.

    Height’s not the enemy here at all. Design is what we need to be concerned with. Could this design be improved? Absolutely. It’s a terrible idea to tear down the building at 31 Biltmore Ave. Vehicle access from Biltmore Avenue is a terrible idea, and no matter how you tart up the blank walls along Aston and Lexington, they’re still blank walls. If they fix those problems, I’m fine with this building, even if I would also tweak the design a little to make it more deco and less neo.

    However, Asheville was building tall buildings 80 years ago, and the only reason it stopped was because it ran out of money. Surely you all were aware that a 14-story tower was to have crowned the Grove Arcade? There’s no telling how many other skyscraping projects were scuttled when the Depression hit. Now that we have the money to build up again, there’s no logical reason not to. It’s sure a better use of land than to scalp entire mountainsides and build Biff and Bitsy’s dream home up there. Up or out, those are the only options. No growth at all is a fool’s dream.

    We’re also forgetting that residential sales at the Ellington will generate money for affordable downtown housing for the next 75 years, by the way. Short of actually including affordable housing in amongst Biff and Bitsy’s condos, this is as good as can be hoped for. The developer’s already going above and beyond what most would. All they need to do is work on the design some, and I’ll be perfectly content.

  34. Ron Volk

    Author, just to clarify something here, are you the “author” of the article about the Fitzgerald in the Moutain Express?

  35. Well put, hauntedheadnc. I agree with all that.

    Yes, Asheville was in a boom era in the 1920s, then the big development bubble burst and the Great Depression came along. A lot of people do not realize that Asheville went bankrupt then; yes, the city folded.

    HOWEVER, to the city’s everlasting credit, it paid all its debts, albeit took into the 1970s to accomplish this. Research the “Sinking Fund” for more info on this.

    So, Asheville had a period of some 60 years in which not really a lot of development took place while places like Atlanta and Charlotte zoomed ahead. We still have a lot of catching up to do.

  36. hauntedheadnc

    If the Depression had not hit, Asheville would have kept right on building tall buildings. It’s not as though that kind of construction is something new here.

    There was an editorial in the AC-T today where the author got so hysterical about the Ellington and his opposition to it that he lambasted the Double Decker Coffee Company bus parked at the corner of Biltmore and Aston. He did make one good point though. He suggested a council on aesthetics that would help direct downtown growth and I’m all for that. I want tall buildings, because the more people you put downtown, the healthier downtown will be with all those people walking around shopping and eating. That, and the more people you put downtown, the more houses you keep off the mountainsides. However, I don’t want boring building or ugly ones. Build them tall, but build them so that they look like the Jackson Building. Do not build them so that they look like the BB&T Building.

  37. There ya go, hauntedheadnc! I love the Jackson Building.

    Perhaps we can talk the Ellington folks into including gargoyles.

    I am serious. It’s a great touch, eh?

    But… yes… build high but make them look interesting. Like the opening scene of the old “Miami Vice” TV show. … like driving through Nashville on I-40… Atlanta … or the high shining beacon of that building in Charlotte that you can see from forever away.

  38. hauntedheadnc

    Speaking of Miami Vice, I would prefer very much that the Ellington go for a more art deco look and leave out the modernism. Those art deco hotels along South Beach are lovely, and their look could easily be translated into something taller.

  39. yep… I’ve had the privilege of touring South Beach and seeing those… and, afterwards, eating at THE Joe’s Crab Shack. Neat place.

    No mountains, though. ;-)

  40. mandoman, i am very aware of what ‘green’ building is. the point of my comment was merely that calling something “Green” without any other definition, means as little as “oragnic”

    there are plenty of builders in this area who have taken to calling thmeselves green, while not doing anything resembling green. A guy buy the name of “Manly” comes to mind…

    I wouldn’t have questioned the definition if they had talked about leed certification, lower carbon prints. they didn’t. they just said green.

    so, now, i’m calloing you purple.

    and, for the record, you just seem angry.

  41. Ron Volk

    I nominate both of you to the Ellington Design Review Board. You really think design matters?
    You are almost on the right track. I’ll agree with you design matters, but not just the style, but the size and the location and a whole bunch of other things that we all need to make extra sure of before approvals are given. Great Designers and Architects have vision, but the citizens must have a vision also because we will be living for a long time! Sort of like getting married.

  42. Thanks for the nomination, Ron. ;-)

    But the point I’m making here (while any good developer SHOULD take into account input from the community) the community can’t dictate what a someone does on THEIR property. Property rights are an integral part of America.

  43. Ron, as to your comment about “wrong time, wrong place” … I feel I am in the RIGHT place and that my views are those of the majority of people in Asheville and Buncombe County.

  44. But it truly does not matter what I or any other “plain” citizen thinks… the powers-that-be are NOT going to turn down an $85 million investment in downtown and a huge addition to the city and county’s tax base.

    Just ain’t a gonna happen.

  45. Ron Volk

    True Author, so let’s allow them to make it 40 stories high! That we it will not only block the sun but the moon and the stars as well!

  46. hauntedheadnc

    How true, Ron. I hear in the wintertime, since the sun never reaches the ground around them, it can reach absolute zero around the Jackson Building, the courthouse and city hall, the Public Service Building, Aston Park Tower, the BB&T Building, the Battery Park Hotel, the Vanderbilt Hotel, and the Flat Iron Building. They’re so tall that they block out everything! Why did those fools back in the 20’s build all those tall buildings?! Can you believe there were plans for even more, too? And why did those fools in the 60’s and 70’s build two more? It’s just madness, I tell you, and they’ve doomed us all. I hear sometimes they find tourists or even careless residents, their dreadlocks as brittle as pretzel sticks, flash frozen where they’ve strayed into those dreadful shadows! We should tear down downtown and all its tall buildings immediately to prevent further tragedies.

  47. heh, heh… you go hauntedheadnc!

    Say… what about the mountains? If ron is so worried ab out tall buildings, obviously we need to lower some mountains. After all, they’re even higher! Mount Mitchell, the highest point in Eastern America is less than 30 airline miles away. Perhaps we need to chop off a couple or three thousand feet?

    Can’t have ANYTHING that keeps the sun off the streets of the Paris of the South. No sir, no ma’am!

    And clouds? Those clouds have to go! And fog, too! That durn mountain mist mucks up our viewshed.


  48. Ron Volk

    It is certainly nice to see people get excited about this one way or another. It is those who don’t care at all that bother me. Hey, all I’m saying is PLAN, plan for the unexpected, plan based on what other cities have learned from building downtown, educate the citizens so they know what they are getting before it’s built. I’m not against this project. I think it is too tall. Setbacks above the 4th or fifth floor can make the building fit right in from the street level. But we can’t just let this project sail on right passed us without careful scrutinizing, because after one will come the second and the third. We need good planning, not NO planning. We need good zoning not NO zoning.

  49. hauntedheadnc

    I don’t have a problem with the height, but I agree the design could be better. I think it needs more “shoulder” to its design in the tradition of the really great art deco buildings. Even city hall tapers more as it rises, and city hall is a fairly squat building as buildings go. I’m glad the downtown commission is leaning toward retail space instead of a big, blank “art wall” on Lexington and Aston, and that they’re concerned about traffic patterns on Biltmore. Addressing those two concerns will do a world of good for the overall design.

    But, tall buildings don’t bother me in the slightest. It’s never the height that concerns me, but the design.

  50. Lizard

    I’ve lived here all my life, 47 years.
    I am a local.
    I have watched every single change this town has had since it was a ruin down dump of a place to live.
    Yes, Asheville in the late 60’s and 70’s was a real dump.
    ( No One Would have wanted to live here)

    People have not come here because they love the high rises and urban sprawl, nope, they have come to Asheville for the unique, hometown, elegant individualizm that folks like myself have tried to create over many years.

    It’s amazing how people can take a great thing and think they are making it better by making it look like everything else? Silly humans.

  51. Lizard

    To the person named author…

    You seem really bent on this project going through.

    Could you be making any profit on it?

  52. bernard carman

    i’m all for continued downtown development, so long as it is reasonable. like the BB&T;building, i don’t feel the height of this proposed building is reasonable, but at least the design is much better.

    i don’t think it is very wise to compare Asheville to other cities like Charlotte & Atlanta, which are both built on flatlands. we do have a very special city here, nestled in these beautiful mountains. adding more overly tall skyscrapers to the landscape doesn’t seem to be an improvement to the “Asheville environment”. at least the recent condos going up aren’t towering giants and fit the city’s landscape to some degree.

    the BB&T;building was a mistake, not just in my opinion, but also the opinion of so many others — local, and visitors. unless what i’ve heard is wrong, there is currently no building height restriction in AVL. while i’m a proponent of property rights in general, it would be nice to see some kind of reasonable standard be adopted.

    i’m thankful that Meyor Bellamy called for knocking off 36 feet from the height — i believe this is a suggestion in the right direction. it would be helpful to see a rough virtual 3d computer model of the building in relation to at least that portion of downtown AVL.

    parking is another issue which i haven’t understood up until this point. will there be sufficient parking below the building? if not, i can see this as another major area of concern.

    and i also concur with those who have already voiced that there should be NO left turn entry (perhaps no easement at all) from Biltmore — that would be absurd on top of an already absurd traffic condition in that area. based on my experience living here, i believe the AVL traffic planners’ predictions should NOT be trusted.

  53. Outsider

    I think the BB&T;is an ugly building. I see no visual benefit of that building and what I can see it is trying to leasing a good bit of space, how is this new building going to be filled? The questions to ask is:
    What tax breaks did or is the city going to give this company? Is it replacing beautiful buildings or something that should be torn down? I don’t see any reason why there shouldn’t be a 23 floor building put in as long as the benefit well out ways the negitives.

  54. Mike

    Now let compare the pro’s and the con’s.
    *100 new jobs
    *1.5 mil in property taxes
    *805m in sales tax
    *320m in room tax
    *75 year non-profit fund earmarked for workforce housing
    *Showcase for the Arts
    *A green standards building
    *A shuttle to and from the Grove Park Inn for guests and workforce to cut down on congestion
    *Privledges at the Grove Park Inn
    *The beauty of the Aschitecture with a history to Asheville
    *A new Hotel, condo’s, bar and terrace for all to enjoy

    The height will dominate the skyline

    And the winner is

  55. You tell ’em, Mike! ;-) Oh… you just did.

    The benefits of the Ellington far outweigh any concerns about height. There are taller buildings coming, get used to it.

  56. jamison

    I live in St. Petersburg, Fl. Just in the last few years our little city has become giant highrises with lots of empty rooms and people struggle to sell their “investments”. Taxes have gone up for all of us in Pinellas County because of the rampant condos and mixed use buildings. I can no longer see the beach when driving along Gulf Blvd…Downtown St. Petersburg used to be full of eclectic mom and pop shops offering all kinds of goods for all size pocketbooks. Artists and businesspeople use to share the sidewalks. Now these, mostly out of state/country, developers have turned our town into the up and coming Rodeo Drive. Unless you can shell out a couple million dollars you might as well look to another town. The mom and pop shops are being taken over by corporate specialty shops and the few lingering artists and locales are barely holding on. Crime has gone up the schoolsa are overcrowded and homelessness runs rampant. I have always loved Asheville (my family is orig. from N.C.) and hope the city planners are being more careful than ours have been. I am all for building up but it has to affordable for not just the uber-rich and must be planned well….Good luck Asheville!

  57. tanchee

    I can’t decide yet. I am not “against” it but i’m not “for” it either. i agree with author though UP not OUT and nothing could possibly look as ugly and out of place as that damn staples next to 240. I do think it’s a little overkill though.

  58. Jim Ross

    Everytime, I visit my home town, which is Asheville. I remember the 5 movie theaters downtown Paramont, Plaza, State, Strand but most of all the Imperial on Patton Ave.It was a beautiful theater but sadly a parking lot now.Its the out of towners who get in office and have no idea of the past or care. Wouldn’t it have been nice to kept it for plays and events. I’m Dreaming I guess but its still sad.

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