Two years after Asheville City Council declared a temporary hotel ban in the city, new lodging projects are back in the development pipeline, ready to put Council’s revised approval system to the test.
During their meeting of Tuesday, Sept. 14, members of Council will hear their first update from city staff since implementing new regulations aimed at improving the predictability and transparency of hotel development review. Those rules, adopted in February after an 18-month moratorium on new hotel construction, established a hotel overlay district, design constraints and an incentive-based program that allows developers to clear projects without Council review if they contribute to equity-related public benefits.
According to a staff report, five projects have been submitted under the new standards, all of which are located in Asheville’s central business district.
Council already approved one of those projects through conditional zoning, which allowed the existing Four Points by Sheraton hotel to more than quintuple its current size. While the development was located in the hotel overlay district, its size required the project to go before Council under the city’s Unified Development Ordinance; therefore, the hotel was not required to follow the new regulations or contribute to public benefits. (Derek Allen, the developer’s attorney, said that the project voluntarily met the city’s standards.)
Four other hotel projects, sized between five and 115 rooms, are still waiting for review. Based on the public benefits incentives table, those developments could generate $650,000 to $1,000,000 in revenue for affordable housing or the city’s reparations program, according to city staff. A presentation available before the meeting shows that staff also recommend tweaking aspects of the hotel overlay standards, public benefits and Design Review Committee.
In other news
Council will consider conditional zoning to allow a 72-unit condo complex off of Cedar Hill Road and Pisgah View Road in West Asheville. Property owners Resurgence Development Company LLC and VC Property Holdings LLC plan to expand an existing development, which currently includes 10 individually owned townhomes. According to a staff report, seven of the new units will be deed-restricted to those earning 80% of area median income ($60,100 per year for a family of four) for 20 years, bringing the cost of a two-bedroom unit to about $1,132 per month.
Council is also expected to vote on a list of eight funding categories for spending roughly $26.2 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, a COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress in March. Members have held two work sessions on the issue and conducted a public hearing on the categories last month. If approved, a request for proposals for projects to receive the money will open in October, with Council voting to approve final awards in December.
And prior to the regular meeting, Council will hold interviews for the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority and Planning and Zoning Commission starting at 2:30 p.m. Three seats are open on the BCTDA — two for owners or operators of lodging companies with over 100 rooms, one for a lodging owner or operator with 100 rooms or less — while two seats are vacant on the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Consent agenda and public comment
The consent agenda for the meeting contains 10 items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:
- A resolution authorizing City Manager Debra Campbell to enter into a $365,583 contract with TEQuity to help manage the city’s reparations program. TEQuity will create a process to appoint members to the Reparations Commission and assist in the development of recommendations for the program, among other responsibilities.
- A resolution authorizing Campbell to execute two contract amendments totaling $1,128,575 that extend funding for a non-congregate homeless shelter through the end of 2021. The contracts, to be funded from ARPA money, will cover the costs of 62 rooms, supportive services and security costs for people experiencing homelessness.
- A budget amendment of $750,000 for the recruitment for a manager position and up to five years of administrative costs associated with the city’s ARPA grant-making process. Recruitment for the position is underway.
- A resolution authorizing Campbell to execute a cost-sharing contract with the N.C. Department of Transportation to widen the sidewalk on the north side of the Amboy Road Bridge, which is not currently wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair or stroller safely. The total cost of the project is $500,000; the city’s contribution is $77,750.
Both the pre-meeting and formal meeting will be livestreamed through Asheville’s public engagement hub and on the city’s YouTube channel. Members of the public can also listen live by calling 855-925-280, meeting code 4956.
Members of the public who wish to speak during the meeting must sign up in advance online or call 828-259-5900 no later than 9 a.m. Sept. 14. City staff will use the list of registered speakers to manage the speaker queue during the meeting. Speakers will need to listen to the meeting via phone by calling 855-925-2801, meeting code4956.
Prerecorded voicemail messages can also be left at 855-925-2801, meeting code 4956; written comments can be sent to AshevilleCityCouncilSept142021@publicinput.com. Emails will be accepted for 24 hours after each public hearing.
The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.