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City Council OKs largest new downtown building... and 6-story RAD development
Saturday, 04 September 2021 16:09

From Staff Reports 

In a narrow 4-3 vote, Asheville City Council on Aug. 24 approved the expansion of a hotel that a historian claims will be the biggest new building in downtown Asheville.

The vote will allow the Four Points Sheraton at 22 Woodfin St. to expand into a 313-room building encompassing 480,000 square feet at downtown’s northern edge along the I-240 bypass.

Hulsing Enterprises of Asheville will construct most of the building, featuring hotel rooms — 207 units for short and extended-stay lodging and 160 units  possibly offering a mix of apartments and condominiums, likely depending on market demand.

Before the vote, City Principal Planner Shannon Tuch told council members that “this is a very large building, expected to be constructed in phases,” according to the Asheville Citizen Times.

Voting in favor of the hotel were Mayor Esther Manheimer, Sandra Kilgore, Sage Turner and Gwen Wisler. Those voting “no” were Vice Mayor Sheneika Smith, Antanette Mosley and Kim Roney.

“At a July 7 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, Asheville historian Kevan Frazier noted it would be bigger than the 269,000-square-foot Grove Arcade and 201,000-square-foot Kimpton Arras Hotel, the city’s tallest building,” the ACT reported.

Also on Aug. 24, council voted 5-2 to approve a proposed 70-foot tall residential and commercial building at the site of the former Cotton Mill at 159 Riverside Drive in the River Arts District. Casting the dissenting votes were Roney and Turner, who criticized the number of apartments with affordable rents.

The downtown complex, which will include the existing 150 Sheraton hotel rooms, will be so big “that it does not qualify for a new process developed for hotels that allows them to be approved at a level below council if a developer contributes to a menu of public benefits,” the ACT noted. “Those can include environmental design, reuse of a historic building and paying employees a living wage. 

However, Dennis Hulsing, owner of the Hulsing Enterprises, “would still contribute to the benefits, getting certification as a green travel and tourism business, donating $196,000 to either affordable housing or a city reparations fund for black residents and seeking to employ minority and women-owned contractors, said Derek Allen, an attorney for Hulsing,” the ACT reported.

“The residential units will also include 10 affordable units for people earning 80 percent of area median income. Under current economic conditions that would mean a three-person household earning $67,625 annually would pay $1,132 a month in rent for a two-bedroom apartment without utilities. “‘We heard that request loud and clear from several of council members that we are in front of this evening,’” Allen said. 

As for the RAD project, it will be mixed-use, with seven apartments (or 5 percent of the units) having affordable rents reserved for people making 80 percent of the area median income.



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