Right now, Asheville city officials have on the table two bids to purchase the city-owned property on Haywood Street across from the Basilica of St. Lawrence. One bid is from McKibbon Hotel Group who wants to build a hotel at that site. The other bid is from the Catholic Church (Diocese of Charlotte) which hopes to build a plaza out to the edge of Haywood Street and lower buildings with shops at the back of the plaza.
A few considerations: No. 1, downtown hotels have less than 63-percent occupancy. Hotel Indigo, which is right up the street from that city-owned site, has plenty of empty rooms and would love to fill them. Shouldn’t we support the hotel we already have, rather than build another one — one that will probably struggle to survive and one that could endanger the livelihood of both hotels and/or put the Indigo out of business?
No. 2 is the beautiful architecture of the Basilica, one of Asheville’s treasured buildings. The church is featured on the Urban Trail and, with 150,000 visitors a year, is a very popular tourist attraction. It was designed and built by two world-famous architects, Rafael Guastavino and Richard Sharpe Smith, who were craftsmen for the Biltmore Estate. City officials are scheduled to meet for a Planning and Economic Development meeting on March 20 at 3:30 p.m. in the lower conference room at City Hall. This meeting is open to the public.
Prior to the PED meeting, email city officials. Tell them it makes no sense to build another struggling hotel at that location. Tell them it makes far more sense to preserve, protect and support what we already have — Hotel Indigo and the Basilica.
— Anne Fitzgerald Smith