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orulz

Brook Street retail in Biltmore Village

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Caught this on the HRC agenda:

Biltmore Village

Brook St. demolish 5 non-historic structures on north side of street

Brook St. construct new mixed retail/office building

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If I'm not mistaken, this is near the old depot across the street from the village proper. There are some scruffy looking buildings in this strip. Anything they do will definitely be an upgrade.

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Agreed. I go to La Paz with my parents pretty often when I'm in town (it's their favorite restaurant) and there certainly are a lot of ... scruffy buildings around there. A bit further east at the intersection of Sweeten Creek and Fairview Road, there's a pretty new two-story building ("Biltmore Courtyard") that follows the architectural guidelines for BV. Beyond there the area takes on the character of an outdated but still active industrial area pretty quickly.

It would be nice if this new office/retail project can extend the "village core" further down Sweeten Creek, linking it with that existing building built a couple years ago and beyond.

I hope they do a good job of building something that works well with BV. I'm not the hugest fan of some of the recent construction in BV - the McDonalds and Hardees look kinda nice as buildings, but they're still surrounded by moats of parking. Biltmore Courtyard is OK, don't like the surface parking ... no big deal - but it's not well integrated with the rest of BV. Hopefully that will change. The New Morning Gallery did a pretty good job with their expansion, though. I'm also interested to see how the two planned hotels (on the Exxon site and the old Plaza Motel site) fit in with the context.

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I guess they've gotten the historical character part covered, now they need to work on the urbanity.

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Agreed - that's a pretty big change for the area. The building has parking below it. Rather than being completely below grade with the retail at ground level, the retail floor appears to lie on a pedastal, about 6 feet above ground level. I guess that will raise the floor of the retail units out of the 100-year flood plain. It would be nice to have the retail units open up to the actual sidewalk (as with most historic units in BV). The pedastal is OK - but the building is very wide and appears to hold a LOT of retail units, so I think they need more than just the four staircases depicted in the rendering. One staircase for each retail unit would be great!

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Great post. You bring up some good points.

I'm far from an architectural critic, but I too wonder how the recent and upcoming infill in Biltmore Village will stand the test of time. Biltmore Plaza (the most recent new construction infill development) is very similar architecturally to this new proposal, only smaller in scale. Biltmore Plaza feels out of scale and somehow out of touch with the rest of the village.

A challenge for all infill in Biltmore Village is maintaing pedestrian focus and human scale, while at the same time raising the bottom floor of every new building six feet above ground level to bring it out of the floodplain. I agree with you that this building (and, similarly, Biltmore Plaza) do a mediocre job at this.

I'm curious what you think of the other major infill project coming up in BV - Kessler's Asheville Mansion hotel. It will clearly be larger than All Souls, and in a very prominent location, but is subordination in scale to the church something that needs to be maintained for all eternity? It would seem to me that a relatively massive building is needed to stand up to the wide and busy roads that surround this project on three sides. Architecturally the building is still a mixed bag of false historicism, but the renderings show a greater level of detail and authenticity than does either Brook Street project. To my uneducated eyes, Asheville Mansion seems closer to an inn found in a village in the French countryside, rather than a supersized Tudor-style cottage.

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The hotel is much more thoughtfully rendered that the proposed commercial development! It shows many visual references to the church, Biltmore Estate Gatehouse, and the Biltmore Office Building in the Village (all R. M. Hunt buildings)

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But I would argue that the church is among Asheville

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I don't know for sure, but I think the road crept up on All Souls' Church before any historic district regulations were in place to prevent it (pre-late 1970s/early 1980s). I've seen an undated photo that shows a row of trees between the church and road. It would be great to recover a little churchyard as a buffer for the building.

I hadn't heard about the new train station -- what's the timeline for that project? Speaking of pedestrian bridges, what could be done to improve pedestrian access across McDowell @ the Biltmore Estate entrance? It is extremely unpleasant to walk there, and with a new hotel coming in on the west side, there will be a greater need for pedestrian comfort/safety.

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I hadn't heard about the new train station -- what's the timeline for that project?

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I'd also like to see something built ... on the lot that used to be Pedro's Porch.

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No sooner did I say it, then, lo and behold, on the January 10th HRC agenda:

Looks like Kessler wants to redevelop the Pedro's Porch lot as well! Good news, good news! This is a small, underutilized lot in a prime location. I was worried that this lot would go untouched, too small or difficult for a modern developer to turn a profit. Thankfully, I was wrong.

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^ That's my assumption, as there are no other hotels nearby.

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Pics of the new development:

IMG_5749.jpg

You can see the stucco in this shot:

IMG_5750.jpg

I think I would have preferred several smaller buildings instead of the one long strip mall. I also think the shingles really cheap. Real slate or another more permanent material would have been nice.

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