After being banned for a year and a half, hotel construction in Asheville will be allowed again, starting at the end of the month. However, getting hotel projects approved will likely be harder.
The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission presented its updated hotel ordinance proposal at its meeting Wednesday night.
“Our goal here really is to limit the geographic extent of where hotels are located to appropriate locations across the city,” commission member Todd Okolichany said.
The first major change involves a hotel overlay district. The new district would remove Asheville Mall and River Ridge shopping center areas from the hotel district, something the commission said city council had suggested.
It would also only allow smaller hotels in the Central Business District or areas east of South Charlotte Street near Woodfin and College streets.
“To really try to protect other neighborhood gentrification and displacement,” Okolichany said.
For a project to be approved by city staff, it would have to be allowed by the new map and also meet a newly designed public benefits requirement, which provides incentives for hotel developers to do things like incorporate green elements, work with minority, women owned businesses, pay a living wage or include affordable rental units.
Using this criteria, the commission found that popular hotel projects like 72 Broadway, Hotel Arras and Tru By Hilton would not have gotten the required points.
The Extended Stay on Biltmore Avenue, now the Residence Inn, would have passed.
If a project doesn’t meet the outlined requirements, it would go to city council for approval.
“Staff feels we would have been able to achieve more benefits to the public than projects that have previously been approved,” Okolichany said.
The commission recessed Wednesday but will meet again Friday for further discussion.