orulz

Aloft Hotel?

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I noticed an item in the agenda of today's city council meeting. The city is considering partnering with Public Interest Projects to build a large (500-space) parking deck at the SW corner of Biltmore and Aston. This is the large vacant lot across Biltmore from Barley's, south of the Ellington, and north of the Hot Dog King.

The preliminary plans (no renderings, etc) call for a "private sector hotel" lining the deck along Biltmore Avenue, and workforce housing lining Lexington Avenue.

As much as I dislike parking decks, this seems like a pretty good way to do one.

Check out the documents:

PIP_deck.pdf

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This sounds like a project worth getting excited about, especially with the workforce housing. I wonder though, how tall such a structure would be?

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This sounds like a project worth getting excited about, especially with the workforce housing. I wonder though, how tall such a structure would be?

just from looking at the site photo... I would say there is room for 50-60 cars per floor after sq is taken for hotels and apartments. That would end up with a 8 or 10 stories of parking 7-11 if they add a green roof.

on second thought i am remembering that lexington is a story or two below biltmore... and the ellington went a story or two below lexington. parking can be built below the hotel on biltmore adding to the below grade parking footprint... the net height over biltmore ave i would estimate to be as low as 4 stories above biltmore ave... but as tall as 8 stories (including the green roof).

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I think it's interesting how all of a sudden hotels are going up left and right. Back in the good old days of Asheville's original tourism boom, there were hotels almost literally on every corner. Then, modern Asheville as we knew it was limited to the Renaissance, the Days Inn, Best Western, and the Haywood Park Hotel. If you really want to remember the Interstate Motel (aka the Intercourse, aka Chlamydia Castle), we can include that one too. Now we're getting the Ellington, Indigo, some fancy-schmancy Sheraton outfit that's replacing the Best Western, and whatever this parking deck hotel will be, plus the Bohemian down in Biltmore Village.

My only worry is the relentless gentrification of the city. All of these projects are upscale, and the more moderate options such as Best Western are being chased out.

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We stayed at a Hotel Indigo in Atlanta and it was very reasonably priced for how nice the rooms were. And they allowed us to bring our (big) dog! I think the brand will be a good fit for Asheville, albeit the building style a bit questionable. But if it encourages some more growth in that direction of downtown, it's ok by me. I want to see the nearby BellSouth lot turn into something else.

The parking deck is intriguing... I'd rather see a few more decks and a lot less surface parking. I love the idea of a green roof and some affordable housing along Lexington. A Ying to the Ellington's upscale yang. The surface lot is below Biltmore ave quite a bit, it seems like a great location for this project.

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At any rate, this deck won't happen for some time yet. This lot will be used as a staging area for construction of the Ellington. Wish I could remember where I got that piece of info from (some set of documents from some agenda item on some commission meeting sometime...) but I stand by it :)

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Isn't this the site of the old Swannanoa Hotel? That was apparantly a very significant structure. I think that it would be appropriate to pay homage... especially since the new structure will include a hotel.

Hopefully homage will be paid in name only. The architecture is much too grand to attempt to approximate. Especially since the hotel is supposed to only take the front of the site.

http://toto.lib.unca.edu/findingaids/books...eg/wncrr03c.jpg

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^Good find. I've only seen that hotel from a southern angle. Maybe PIP can incorporate some of the design elements into the plan for this block. A nice traditional design instead of neo-deco, postmodern, etc. would be nice to see.

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From the site:

The aloft Asheville Downtown is currently accepting inquiries at the pre-opening office, which is located at the address listed above. This is also the hotel's physical address. Individual hotel reservations are not being accepted at this time.

IIRC, there is nothing at that site. What's the story here?

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If you're interested, I suggest you contact Public Interest Projects. As per the thread linked in the first post, they're planning on building a 500ish space parking deck as a public/private partnership with the city in the center of the lot, a commercial hotel (Aloft) facing Biltmore, and workforce housing facing Lexington.

Not sure about the "pre-opening office". Maybe they have placed (will place?) a temporary structure there?

Originally this lot was planned to be used as construction staging for the Ellington, since it is much easier to borrow the land next door for a couple years than to try to do everything with just the site itself and a satellite location. Now that Ellington is stalled, I guess Public Interest can move ahead with their plans.

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Per your suggestion, I contacted PIP. They were surprised that the announcement was on aloft's site already, but did confirm that aLoft is the planned hotel. They expect the proposal to come before the Downtown Commission in September for review.

Edited by rooster8

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Aloft is up on the Development Mapper.

See the site plan and Biltmore Avenue elevation.

The development, called "Aloft Mixed-Use Development" will include both the parking lot across from Barley's as well as the Hot Dog King parcel immediately to the south. As discussed, the 500-space parking deck will be sandwiched between the Aloft along Biltmore Avenue and workforce housing along Lexington. There will be a single retail space along Aston in the parking deck. Curb cuts for the parking deck can be found along all three sides, with entrances on Biltmore and Aston, and an exit on Lexington.

The Aloft will be 7 stories tall, significantly taller than the parking deck. The rendering (black & white) reminds me quite a bit of 60 North Market. It will have a number of retail spaces all along Biltmore.

The "workforce housing" along Lexington Avenue and another small parcel (8/100 acre) along Biltmore Avenue at the south end of the development (where Hot Dog King is now - is that place still open?) are marked as "future development by others." I expect that the workforce housing will be single-loaded small condos or apartments, and the 8/100 acre parcel would be a 1 or 2 story retail structure.

This looks pretty exciting... I would consider this to be pretty much the best-case scenario for this site.

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One curb cut per street isn't that bad. I do wish they would do something other than "synthetic stucco." You can probably bet the color scheme will be similar to this one:

aloft%20hotels2.jpg

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So according to this article the DTC gave their blessing to Aloft. Their main concerns revolve around the temporary loss of parking, and the blank wall that will be left along Lexington Avenue until the workforce housing is built. The workforce housing is supposedly going to be 16-20 units. Not very big, but it only has to cover about 2 or 3 stories of garage, and by making it shorter, it can be stick-built and therefore cheaper.

One person who owns a business on Biltmore Avenue evidently stood up before the DTC and said that Aloft will be "soulless" and bring too much traffic to Biltmore Avenue. Sounds like a BANANA to me.

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Well, it is soulless. But name me a piece of modern architecture in Asheville that isn't. We stopping building anything worth giving a crap about sometime in the late 1940's, and nearly everything since then has been ghastly.

However, I do think it's stupid that a business owner would be upset about a crowded street. That is kind of what we're aiming for here after all. I wonder if she gets upset at Christmas too, because of the extra people.

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Bunch more renderings. This time 3D, and in color. Seems rooster8 was right on the money.

There will be a pool on top of the parking deck. The air rights over the deck on the Hot Dog King property as well as .08 acres of land fronting Biltmore Avenue are being retained by PIP for a future project.

The property along Lexington avenue immediately south of this project, 86 Lexington, is also owned by PIP. They are offering 'First rights' to the city to expand the parking deck over this property in the future.

aloft1.jpg

aloft2.jpg

aloft3.jpg

aloft4.jpg

aloft5.jpg

aloft6.jpg

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Well it's surely better than that hideous sunken surface parking lot. The design is okay ... I guess. Would probably look better with balconies on each room and some more of that rusted iron siding and absolutely no "synthetic stucco" I hate that crap it has to be repainted way too often and looks cheap as hell.

My vote is for a total recreation of the Swannanoa Hotel, what a beauty! But I guess it's too much for todays builders who seemingly prefer stucco and styrofoam over anything else.

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I love the way the city council will approve any short building, not matter how hideous, before it would dare approve a well-designed tall building.

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I love the way the city council will approve any short building, not matter how hideous, before it would dare approve a well-designed tall building.

That does seem to be the track record, but in their defense the developers dont seem much up to the task of presenting the right projects and doing so intelligibly enough to get public support; not to say that its an easy task but surely its not impossible. Instead things usual devolve into an egomaniacal pissing contest from both sides.... ahhh its a good thing im not human! lol

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That does seem to be the track record, but in their defense the developers dont seem much up to the task of presenting the right projects and doing so intelligibly enough to get public support; not to say that its an easy task but surely its not impossible. Instead things usual devolve into an egomaniacal pissing contest from both sides.... ahhh its a good thing im not human! lol

Well, not to name names, but one developer was up to the challenge and did offer a spectacular project that included numerous concessions to Asheville's art, history, character, and soul, but his project was turned down because it was "too big." Which is to say, it was too urban, and the city council was upset with this developer because he refused to play along with their delusion that Asheville is just the quaintest lil ol' thing to mince down the pike since Lake Wobegon. Thus, they did not approve the project. However, place before them a godawful eyesore like this hotel and if it's short and can perpetuate the illusion that Asheville is far too small and quaint to justify a skyscraper's construction, they'll rubberstamp it so fast your head will spin.

I think it's partly that, and partly the fact that new construction downtown must meet strict requirements for mediocrity and gentrification before the city council will approve it. This building far exceeds the requirement for mediocre architecture. It's right up there with the Indigo Hotel, 12 S. Lexington, and 21 Battery Park Avenue. I'm sure that they were really just kidding about that workforce housing they wanted to add to this project -- because they're always just kidding about that kind of thing -- so what we're doing here is providing another staging area for uppity tourists looking for second homes. So, we're helping the gentrification along quite nicely as well.

Add all that up and how could the city council possibly refuse?

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Well, not to name names, but one developer was up to the challenge and did offer a spectacular project that included numerous concessions to Asheville's art, history, character, and soul, but his project was turned down because it was "too big." Which is to say, it was too urban, and the city council was upset with this developer because he refused to play along with their delusion that Asheville is just the quaintest lil ol' thing to mince down the pike since Lake Wobegon. Thus, they did not approve the project. However, place before them a godawful eyesore like this hotel and if it's short and can perpetuate the illusion that Asheville is far too small and quaint to justify a skyscraper's construction, they'll rubberstamp it so fast your head will spin.

I think it's partly that, and partly the fact that new construction downtown must meet strict requirements for mediocrity and gentrification before the city council will approve it. This building far exceeds the requirement for mediocre architecture. It's right up there with the Indigo Hotel, 12 S. Lexington, and 21 Battery Park Avenue. I'm sure that they were really just kidding about that workforce housing they wanted to add to this project -- because they're always just kidding about that kind of thing -- so what we're doing here is providing another staging area for uppity tourists looking for second homes. So, we're helping the gentrification along quite nicely as well.

Add all that up and how could the city council possibly refuse?

Its sad if you look at satellite imagery of cities like Orlando or Atlanta you can see the direct result of neglecting to develop a dense urban core in lieu of suburban sprawl, the nature disappears very fast, and is usually gone for good. As more people decide to call Asheville home we will see if the trends change, though for now most of the owners of the surrounding lands seem more than happy to sell out the farm for cookie cutter houses and strip malls... which is a shame.

Its not easy to get a project off the ground, but if you can truly get the public behind it then a council will usually go along with it. Then again there must have been some way he refused to play ball and it killed the project. Though truly if he's got a good idea there is always some other city he can bring all those jobs, culture and massive economic impact to, the SW principle always applies... Some Will, Some Wont, So What, Someones Waiting...

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There was something on the council agenda regarding this project. They need to buy air rights for the "swoof" that will be on top of the building. See the item here. There was apparently also an item related to this project on the DTC agenda today - probably related to the residential building slated for the Lexington Ave side - but the agenda isn't available so I don't know the specifics.

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