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archiham04

The Ellington

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This building was just announced in the AC-T. as far as I can tell this building will only replace 1 building on the Biltmore Avenue strip (Between Doc Chey's and the Next-to-New shop).

I think this is GREAT. I am all for tall buildings, and I am ecstatic that it will not bulldoze too much of the existing fabric. This should be a welcome addition to the city. This project also has potential to positively impact the emerging South Lexington Corridor.

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Seems like there has been a lot of announcement of tall buildings in the past year or so, but not much action.

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Wow.

Looks like all the property for this one has been acquired. According to the Buncombe County GIS, this project will cover 5 parcels: 2 on Lexington, 2 on Biltmore, and a third that fronts both Lexington and Biltmore. As you point out, of the 5 lots, 4 are empty, but the 5th contains a 3-story load bearing masonry structure at 31 Biltmore, built in 1905:

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I have my misgivings about demolition of this little building. Not because it's pretty or significant or even really all that worth preserving, but because of the dangerous precedent that it would set. Except for the J.C. Penney building that bit the dust for 21 Battery Park a couple years back, downtown has seen zero loss of any buildings of architectural worth whatsoever over the last 2 decades. That defines what Asheville today. So far, it's been pretty much taboo to tear down old structures downtown. But If this project goes through, and other developers catch wind, perhaps we might find a far more significant building in the crosshairs next.

They own 90 feet of frontage along Biltmore, and 155 feet of Lexington frontage. If they left 31 Biltmore in place, they'd have 65 feet of Biltmore frontage. There's an outside chance that they might have acquired the 31 Biltmore lot just for the vacant back half along Lexington, with the possibility of preserving the existing building.. I wonder if 65 feet of Biltmore frontage could be enough for what they plan to do?

If they covered all of this L-shaped lot with a 23-story building it would have very large floorplates and look very, very strange. I wonder whether they plan on going tall on the back part of the lot (along Lexington) and building something smaller-scaled along Biltmore, or vice-versa with a tall tower along Biltmore, with Lexington holding a parking deck, service entrances, etc. I'm hoping for the former but expecting the latter. It will be interesting to see how their plans integrate with the surroundings.

Biltmore Avenue - in particular, this block of Biltmore Avenue - isn't the area that I would have picked out for a 23 story buildling. This proposal will doubtless meet with steep opposition. On the whole, though, I'm for it.

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The opposition has already begun. When I wrote a letter to the editor supporting the Indigo Hotel proposal, someone answered it in the AC-T forums demanding height restrictions. This was the project they named as the reason height restrictions are needed.

Let's see here. Zona Lofts, Ravenscroft Project, Indigo Hotel, the Ellington, Dixon on Biltmore, 60 North Market. Am I missing any proposals here? Whatever happened to some of them, anyway? 60 North Market has a sales office set up, the Indigo is still working its way through approval, and the Zona Lofts have switched to a nasty design that will probably get built all the same. But... what has happened with the Ravenscroft and the Dixon?

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They own 90 feet of frontage along Biltmore, and 155 feet of Lexington frontage. If they left 31 Biltmore in place, they'd have 65 feet of Biltmore frontage. There's an outside chance that they might have acquired the 31 Biltmore lot just for the vacant back half along Lexington, with the possibility of preserving the existing building.. I wonder if 65 feet of Biltmore frontage could be enough for what they plan to do?

If they covered all of this L-shaped lot with a 23-story building it would have very large floorplates and look very, very strange. I wonder whether they plan on going tall on the back part of the lot (along Lexington) and building something smaller-scaled along Biltmore, or vice-versa with a tall tower along Biltmore, with Lexington holding a parking deck, service entrances, etc. I'm hoping for the former but expecting the latter.

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As promised last night the AC-T has a full article this morning. I am TOTALLY against vehicular access from Bitmore avenue. Hopefully they have summited their worst plan so that the downtown commission will have enough vodder to feel useful. Surely they are not serious about this.

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Here's a guest editorial I wrote last night and sent to the paper today about this project.

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You have to commend the minds behind The Ellington, which, if its announcement can be trusted, could be one of the greatest developments proposed for downtown in years. It finds a legitimate use for land currently wasted on surface parking. It

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Nothing really to add, but I was walking past the site today and noticed three older gentlemen obviously talking about this project. Didn't get a chance to stop and talk to them about it, but they seemed pretty informed about what was going on based on their conversation.

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Here's a guest editorial I wrote last night and sent to the paper today about this project.

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I managed to insult no fewer than four downtown residential projects, so I wonder how many people I've pissed off.

Not that I care how many I pissed off, mind you, because Asheville deserves better than the dreck they've built or want to build. I just want ot know how many.

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Interesting discussion...I have been to Asheville, like most here, many times. In defense of the poor 1905 building, we must not forget how rare these buildings really are....in Asheville you are talking dozens of commercial turn of the century structures in relation to a population near 100k. Statewide, you are talking several hundred of these (maybe a thousand with places like Oxford and Salisbury adding a few dozen despite their small sizes) relative to our 8 million population...I call them very rare indeed. There is no getting them back when they are gone. Raleigh made that mistake after WWII. Now we have no identifiable histroic core...a glob here, a strip there but no solid district.

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Destroying historic buildings is a bad precedent, I'll concede, but I've been downtown twice since the Ellington was announced, and both times I showed off the location to friends who hadn't heard about the project. On both occasions we inspected the abandoned historic building on the chopping block, and neither time could we find anything really noteworthy about it at all. It's very plain. Not even a distinctive advertising sign or an interesting stained glass window, as you find on other buildings on the street. It's basically a brick box.

This is a case where the replacement could very well be better than the original. Asheville's the queen of that situation. It tore down the old Battery Park Hotel and Battery Hill to make way for the new Battery Park Hotel, and the entire historic downtown district around the Grove Arcade. Taken together, they're better than what they replaced, even though the old hotel was truly a marvel. Pack Place and the old Pack Library are arguably better than the one-story commercial building and the castle-like building that they replaced in the 1990's and 1927, respectively. The City Building is better than the old city hall.

We've also seen the other end of the spectrum. All the buildings on the north side of Pack Square fell to make way for that festering ass-boil known as the Biltmore Building, and the Langren Hotel fell to make way for a parking deck. A multi-story building across from the Drhumor Building is now the site of a parking lot. So... we know the good and the bad about redevelopment.

This three-story commercial building is not the Langren Hotel, Pack Square, the old Battery Park Hotel or anything else, however. It isn't special. It's bland. If it could be saved, wonderful, but if not... It really isn't a big loss, especially when you consider what will replace it. A 23-story art deco skyscraper? Sounds good to me. I assure you though that if a developer wanted to destroy something important like the Drhumor Building or the Jackson Building for a building of any style or size, I'd join the riot that would erupt.

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I concede...I might be a wierdo simply because no one else seems to agree with me...but I find value in this building. Not for the reasons an environmentlist sums up the energy of demolition and new construction vs. preservation....not the way most preservationists tick off the architectural details that make a building unique....I find value in the look of actual weathered brick. Old nails. Floor boards worn smooth by decades of being walked on. Joists that came from trees that were 100 years old in...in 1900 when they were used , making them trees that stood when the founding fathers were alive....the robust 18-inch think masonry, the oversized bricks, the craftsman ship of the simple cornicework and 1-2-1 window placement, the pleasant aged smell and ambiance of the space. I would take the district of three story brick buildings with apartments above and shops below any day over the Grove Arcade.....but I guess I am a wierdo.....

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I think you're romanticizing the building at 31 Biltmore Avenue some. If you want to plead its case to the developers of the Ellington or to the public in trying to explain why it should choose this 3-story building over a 23-story art deco skyscraper, you'll have to think of another angle.

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I think you're romanticizing the building at 31 Biltmore Avenue some. If you want to plead its case to the developers of the Ellington or to the public in trying to explain why it should choose this 3-story building over a 23-story art deco skyscraper, you'll have to think of another angle.

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I wouldn't say you could justify the demolition of every other building on Biltmore by saying there was nothing noteworthy. The building at 31 Biltmore doesn't even have a cornice. Most other buildings on the street have details that make them interesting, including stained glass windows, historic advertising signs, and little flourishes here and there.

I can understand your desire to protect the building. It's based on the domino theory. If one gets torn down, that will make it easier to tear down the next one. Don't get me wrong -- I want this building preserved too. I don't want a developer to say it can't be saved when it can, just because they don't want to spend the money to do it. However, if it honestly, truly turns out that the building can't be saved or the plan can't be changed to accommodate it, I don't think it's an enormous loss.

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WLOS just had a piece on the six o'clock news about The Ellington and showed several renderings of the building. So there should be some available online soon. I haven't found them yet. I wouldn't be surprised if a link showed up at the Citizen Times site tonight or tomorrow. Also, WLOS doesn't have the video up yet on their site, but they could later tonight.

Edit: A partial picture is up at the WLOS site along with a small blurb. Video isn't up yet though.

http://www.wlos.com/newsroom/nc/topstory/topstory2.shtml

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Great find, Lootles. Here is the rendering from the WLOS story:

ellington.jpg

I count 16 stories in this image. If I'm correct, that means there are 7 stories total below the bottom of this image. The tower seems to be set back along Lexington. The building would be somewhere around 9 stories tall along Biltmore.

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Wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I'm digging it. What does everyone else think?

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That is one massive building. Look at the poor little double decker bus on the corner! I do like the design of the building. Reminds me of something you'd see in a Batman movie.

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I love the building. I also like how the architect called it "neo-deco" and that he wanted to honor Ellington, the architect, and his buildings in Asheville. Plus that skyline rendering is awesome.

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Here are the renderings in full resolution:

ellington1.jpg

ellington2.jpg

ellington3.jpg

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All in all, I love the tower, but I'm rather disappointed with how it interacts with the street. The way it's set back along biltmore looks cute on paper, but it doesn't work. The parking deck entrance on Biltmore seems just as bad as I feared. No time now, but I'll discuss more later.

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