Nearly 8,000 rooms and counting: taking stock of Buncombe County’s hotel industry

By Virginia Daffron and Brooke Randle

As Asheville awaits the Tuesday, May 14, culmination of a battle royal over the proposed conversion of downtown’s iconic Flatiron building from offices to an 80-room boutique hotel, the time seems right to check in on the local hotel scene. From now through the end of the year, 465 new rooms are expected to join the nearly 8,000 already operating in Buncombe County. With many more approved and under construction in 2020 and beyond, just keeping track of what is being built where and by whom is no small challenge.

In response to community concern that the pace of new hotel construction had gotten out of control, on Feb. 14, 2017, Asheville City Council changed the standards for hotels and large buildings seeking approval within city limits. Whereas most projects up to 175,000 square feet and 145 tall had previously been approved by the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission, the changes meant that hotel projects of more than 20 rooms and any building over 100,000 square feet in size now require Council approval.

How much difference the shift has made, however, is hard to gauge.

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