Against the wishes of the people, city officials have made it clear that, for a variety of reasons, they want to restart negotiations with McKibbon Hotel Group as the developer of that city-owned Haywood Street site, across from the Basilica. So, let’s tell city officials what we want (and what we don’t want) if McKibbon develops that site. (And if McKibbon doesn’t develop that site, we can all do the Dance of Joy!)
No. 1: We don’t want a large building crowding out the Basilica, downtown’s most beautiful architectural treasure. We are lucky to have it. Most cities would bend over backwards to protect it. No. 2: We want any McKibbon building to have a 200-foot setback from the street. (Nothing should be built out-to-the-sidewalk).
No. 3: We want to maintain the “sight line” (meaning when you are walking up Haywood Street from Malaprop’s we want to be able to see the Basilica, without another building blocking it from view). No. 4: We do not want to allow a third hotel on that block to become Section 8 housing. In their contracts, some developers state that if the hotel doesn’t flourish, they automatically become Section 8 housing. Battery Park Apartments and Vanderbilt Apartments, on the same block as the Basilica, have already gone from hotel to Section 8 housing. We don’t want another one.
No. 5: We do not want additional chain stores downtown. McKibbon is proposing first-floor shops, which will be too pricey for our local merchants to rent, but we do not want them filled with the chain stores seen in the malls across America. No. 6: We want any new building to architecturally complement the Basilica and the Grove Arcade, (not the Civic Center or another building of lesser architectural standing).
— Anne Fitzgerald Smith