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orulz

Capital Center, Asheville

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I have to admit that this new look is kind of growing on me. It's nothing I'd want to see big numbers of, but a few are fine.

I feel the same way, though I do wonder how long it will take before it's a "tired" design. It sort of reminds me of the metal facades that were on so many of the downtown buildings when I first moved in here in the early 80's. The same facades that were ripped down when the downtown revitalization took hold.

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So here's my plan for these buildings:

Bank of America building: I would turn it's biggest problem into its biggest asset. It is set back about 20 feet from Patton Avenue which looks really ugly with that meaningless green space the way it is now. How to turn it around? Sidewalk cafes. The sidewalk along Patton is far too narrow to have sidewalk dining, but with the setback there's more than enough space. So I would give the building a complete facelift like Capital Center, and turn the ground floor into a couple of sidewalk cafes, which would be awesome, given all the sidewalk cafes on the other side of Pritchard Park. I would probably leave the other floors as offices - a building like this seems to be an unlikely target for residential conversion.

Wells Fargo Building: I would recruit a major department store to open up there. An independent department store would be awesome, but a major chain without an existing presence in WNC would be more likely. Specifically, Macy's - but there might be others. Macy's probably wants a presence in Asheville - it's a pretty large maket. The closest one is in Greenville. There isn't even one in Knoxville. Now, I could see Macy's locating in Asheville Mall if somebody else left, but who's going to leave? Even Sears is unlikely to abandon the Asheville market entirely. Biltmore Square Mall is completely out of the question. Another enclosed mall or major lifestyle center being built in WNC any time soon is also unlikely. The Wells Fargo building downtown is 4 stories, and a total of about 100,000 square feet, plus 40 parking spaces underneath. This is pretty close to the square footage of an average Macy's in a mall.

However, the 40 parking spaces is not nearly enough, so I would add two floors onto the adjacent Rankin Avenue deck (It was designed to accommodate this). This would add about 180 more spaces, which brings us pretty close to the standard of 2 spaces per 1000 square feet for stores like this. I would build a skywalk over College Street to connect the second level of the deck to the store. The exterior would need a bit of work, notably to install some ground level display cases, and some general freshening up, but, importantly, probably not a complete overhaul, since a windowless blob actually is usually what a major retailers like this would prefer (No windows means more wall-mounted display space. Plus, natural light is unpredictable, and UV harms merchandise.)

Question marks include: can the building's interior be opened up enough to meet a department store's needs? Are the ceilings high enough? Not sure, but likely so.

Where would the banks move their offices? A new office building somewhere else downtown, of course! Maybe on the T.K. Tripps lot? Where will I get the money to make all of this this happen? The next Mega Millions jackpot, I guess? Ha ha.

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The first thing I thought when I walked by the Bank of America building the other day was "Hmm, that's a perfect spot for a sidewalk cafe." I also really think the Wells Fargo building needs a huge transformation. Right now it's essentially a huge blank wall on three different streets.

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Back to the Capitol Center -- who can tell me about the metal pergola-like grid thingy hung at cornice level? Is it functional or decorative? A post-modern cornice? I notice similar elements, sometimes over windows, in new construction.

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The Bank of America building is planned for conversion into a boutique hotel called the "Parisian Hotel."

 

http://mrkinv.com/portfolio/parisian-asheville-nc

 

Clearly they are planning on extending the front of the building forward to the sidewalk, covering over the useless courtyard. The building just east of the Bank of America building seems to be incorporated as well (the one between the BOA building and the S&W.) The website mentions a total of three buildings being included, but I can't figure which one would be the third by looking at the renderings.

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Might not be happening if you believe the guy speaking at a recent city council meeting - http://ashevilleblade.com/?p=953

 

It doesn't matter where the human services building is built.  There will be panhandlers/drifters/unarmed muggers wherever you go.  I've had someone ask for money at the Asheville Krispy Kreme.

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