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Asheville's New Tallest Building Approved



10/18/2007 - Asheville's New Tallest Building Approved

ASHEVILLE A vacant lot between an Asian restaurant and an empty building on Biltmore Avenue will be the site of the tallest building in Asheville.

The City Council gave developers of The Ellington hotel and condominium building the nod Tuesday, voting 6-1 to approve the 23-story building.

Developers had proposed to lower the downtown high-rise to 21 stories after hearing concerns about size, but council members said given all factors, the taller building was a better design.

The Ellington will be just taller than the current highest structure, the BB&T building.

The lone no vote came from Councilman Bryan Freeborn, who voiced concerns about traffic and pedestrian safety.

The project had drawn criticism from people who said it would be out of scale with surrounding two- and three-story buildings.

Pinky Zalkin, 58, of Kenilworth, was handing out green NO signs in front of City Hall before the meeting. The former real estate manager from Nevada City, Calif., said she didnt want Asheville to become overdeveloped like her last home.

Others, such as frozen custard storeowner Jim Kammann, said it was good to see tall construction in the center of town instead of sprawl on the outskirts.

We need to be perceived in this town as friendly to business, and I just hope that we do not send the wrong signal. Business is not bad, Kammann said.

The Ellington will stretch from Biltmore back to South Lexington Avenue to the west and Aston Street to the south. From above, the L shaped footprint would wrap around behind Doc Cheys Noodle House.

The Dallas-based Beck Group will develop the $85 million project with other partners, including the Grove Park Inn, a minor investor that will operate the hotel.

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