So much for that park

What makes Asheville a destination tourists want to visit (and spend their hard-earned dollars)? My guess is that visitors want to come here to experience the surrounding mountain beauty, in a town that also has a good dose of history attached to it. They like Asheville's earthy quality and laid-back vibe.

It seems, too, that a certain era or period in time is being presented to them as they stroll around town. They come away with the feeling that Asheville really has character — a soul to it.

When people walk around town, they notice that many of the buildings are “decked out” in art-deco detail. It's not just the beauty of the Grove Arcade or S&W Building they recognize, but even their favorite restaurant, shop or art studio seems to be housed in that same design quality (from that era).

Asheville City Council recently voted (4-2) to approve the sale of the controversial Haywood Street property to the McKibbon Hotel Group. This is the very same McKibbon Hotel Group (curious, no?) that is putting the finishing touches on the Aloft Hotel (also downtown, on Biltmore Avenue), which with a “contempo” design is, to my eyes, indeed incongruous.

As long as Asheville depends on tourism, we do indeed need hotels. They just don't all have to be located downtown and, just as important, those that are downtown (and the big companies building them) should respect the style of what makes Asheville Asheville.

There will be no park located at this area across from the the Basilica of St. Lawrence. Evidently the Catholic Church didn't have quite the same clout as McKibbon with its bid to acquire the property. We now all have to live with Council's decision. Remember to vote in the next election(s).

This is about the future of Downtown Asheville and having a good plan. Let us all hope that the McKibbon Hotel Group honors their plans and builds a structure that respects Asheville's architecture (unlike the Aloft Hotel) and that Council holds them to it.

— Brad Dawson

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