Create 72 Broadway hotel seeks final approval from Council

SQUEEZED OUT: Asheville City Market operators estimate that around 1,500 residents and visitors attend the farmers market each Saturday from April through December and say that the new mixed-use hotel, which includes parking accessed on North Market Street, would impede the market’s ability to operate. Photo courtesy of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project

The Create 72 Broadway mixed-use hotel that Asheville City Council members will consider at their meeting of Tuesday, Sept. 10, may be the last hotel they approve for construction — at least for the next year — if they also choose to go through with a proposed hotel moratorium. At the same meeting, Council is expected to take the first step toward the temporary ban by setting a public hearing for Tuesday, Sept. 24.

As outlined in a staff report available before the meeting, the proposed nine-story Create 72 building, located at 72 Broadway and 61 and 67 North Market St., consists of 137 hotel rooms and 37 residential units. At least six of the rental units will be designated as affordable for those earning no more than 60% of the area median income ($39,840 per year for a family of four) and be reserved “for creatives.” Three additional for-sale units, including two live/work spaces, are also set aside for those earning 60% AMI. 

The project has received criticism from the operators and vendors of the Asheville City Market, which operates seasonally at 52 North Market St. on Saturday mornings. Mike McCreary, who manages the downtown farmers market, said the new construction would displace 20 of the 50 local vendors who rely on the market as a primary source of income. Asheville’s Planning and Zoning Commission, which approved the project during its Aug. 7 meeting, recommended that the developer work with the market’s operators to find a viable solution before the project headed to Asheville City Council.

According an Aug. 28 press release from the developer, representatives from Create 72 Broadway met with members of Asheville City Market on Aug. 26 to pledge support for “ensuring the market’s success.” Just two days later, Xpress received a press release from the farmers market’s operators stating that the plans still posed a threat.

The hotel project is also racing against the possible implementation of a temporary hotel moratorium, which if approved would halt new hotel construction for up to a year. Council must first set a public hearing on the issue, tentatively listed for Sept. 24, before approving the measure. 

In a presentation available before the meeting, City Attorney Brad Branham noted that a moratorium could give the city time to develop new policies for considering hotel proposals and managing hotels’ impacts on the community. Hotels that have already been approved by Council would not be affected by the ban, regardless of whether construction had started. The proposed temporary ban comes in response to resident concerns regarding infrastructure, displacement of locals and a lack of consistency in hotel approvals.

In other business

Council is also expected to set another public hearing for Tuesday, Sept. 24, to consider amending Asheville’s charter to specify at-large elections for Council members. A special Council session was held on July 2 to explore the city’s options in the wake of Senate Bill 813, the state law that replaced the previous at-large method for electing representatives with a district-based system.

During that meeting, Branham told Council members that amending the city’s charter would be the quickest route for circumventing the state law. Under that approach, he explained, the city could change almost every aspect of its electoral system, including reinstating all elections to an at-large format, deciding between partisan or nonpartisan elections, choosing from a variety of district formats and restoring primary elections. 

An amendment to the charter would not, however, affect the year in which elections are held. The state’s 2018 law placed elections on even years starting in 2020, skipping this year’s previously scheduled elections.

Consent agenda

Council’s consent agenda for the meeting contains eight items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include:

  • A $329,294 budget amendment for a grant from the Federal Transit Administration. The grant is a part of the Section 5310 program, which aims to improve mobility for seniors and individuals with disabilities.
  • A resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a joint request for proposals with Buncombe County to participate in Duke Energy’s Green Source Advantage Program. Joining that program, which allows Duke customers to purchase renewable energy directly from a third-party utility provider, would support the  city’s goal to transition municipal operations to 100% renewable energy by 2030.
  • A resolution to accept a donation of up to $30,000 from Mission Hospital to be used for the construction of a bus shelter near Livingston Street as a part of the larger Livingston Street improvement project. The donation fulfills a requirement of the conditional use permit for the construction of the hospital’s new North Tower.
  • A resolution authorizing the city to enter into a $973,556 contract with Harrison Construction for services related to the Charlotte Street Road Diet project. The project was developed to reduce traffic congestion on the street by reducing the roadway from four car lanes to three and making room for dedicated bike lanes and pedestrian improvements.

Asheville City Council meets at 5 p.m. in Council chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 70 Court Plaza. The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.

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