Be There When Lightning Strikes

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Timeline of tall buildings

1905: Henderson County Courthouse, designed by Biltmore House resident architect Richard Sharp Smith, completed in the 100 block of North Main Street.

1929: Skyland Hotel opens at 538 N. Main St. Built at a cost of $300,000 and dedicated just four months before the stock market crash of 1929, the Skyland operated as a 76 room hotel until the early 1970s, when the rooms were reconfigured as privately owned condos. Famous guests include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lee Marvin, Minnie Pearl, Robert Mitchum and later president Ronald Reagan.
1987: First Citizens Bank, 80 feet tall, opens at 539 N. Main St.
Sept. 21, 2005: Eduardo R. “Ed” Hernando files application for the nine-story Sunflower luxury condo on property at 147 First Avenue East owned by Stuart Rubin. The 179,990-square-foot building would contain 70 condos, a two-story parking garage, 12,815 square feet of commercial/retail space, a rooftop garden and 9,574 feet of urban open space. At 115 feet tall, the proposed Sunflower building would exceed the maximum height the city code imposes “to protect the skyline of the Henderson County Courthouse.” The proposed condo project is 35.8 feet taller than the base of the courthouse dome.
Oct. 5, 2005: During a neighborhood compatibility meeting that drew 21 residents, people express concerns about the building height, parking and congestion problems, “no longer having the Historic Courthouse as the focal point of downtown Hendersonville” and “overall negative esthetic impact” of a nine-story condo building.
Nov. 9, 2005: Newcomers Bill O’Cain, chair of the city Planning Board, and Jeff Collis are elected to the City Council.
Nov. 14, 2005: In a 4-3 vote, Planning Board recommends approval of the Sunflower.
Dec. 14, 2005: In the City Council’s first public hearing on the application, nine people are sworn in to speak in favor of the project, 18 opposed. The meeting drags on for six hours and 15 minutes with no resolution; the council tables the application.
Dec. 21, 2005: Hernando amends the application, reducing the height to 79 feet, floors from nine to seven and dwelling units from 70 to 64.
Feb. 9, 2006: The council defeats the building height variance and the special-use permit on votes of 2-2. Mayor Greg Newman and Councilman Jon Laughter vote yes. Barbara Volk and Jeff Collis vote no. Councilman O’Cain recuses himself because he had worked on the project.
April 26, 2006: The City Council and Planning Board meet jointly to discuss building heights downtown, though they take no action.
June 24, 2006: The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump Mortgage LLC is among the lenders on the Sunflower project. Trump Mortgage president E.J. Ridings tells the Journal: “I know it’s Hendersonville North Carolina and it’s up in the beautiful mountains and all. But I keep saying to Ed, ‘There are homes that are taller than five stories on Long Island.’ Please.”
July 6, 2006: The council takes up a proposal to keep the building height limit at 64 feet on Main Street (from Sixth Avenue to Allen Street) but raise the height to 80 feet in other parts of the central business district, including the Sunflower site. Twenty people spoke against the higher cap (including Don Soula, Eva Ritchey, Steve Caraker, Win Reed, Tony Slovacek, Steve Dozier, former city attorney Michael Egan, Save Our City leader Bob Martin, Martha Sachs and Ken Fitch) while 13 spoke in favor (including Stan Shelley, Harley Stepp, Partnership for Economic Progress president Larry Rogers, Margo Nagel, Hall Waddell, Jim Barnett, Boyd Massagee, Joan Whitmire and Bruce Maurer).
Summer 2006: State Sen. Tom Apodaca and Rep. Carolyn Justus push through legislation in the General Assembly setting a referendum on whether to impose the 64-foot limit throughout downtown, overturning the higher maximum favored by three council members.
Nov. 7, 2006: City voters enact the 64-foot limit by 68 to 32 percent.
July 28, 2010: Hernando files voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in Western North Carolina District of U.S. Bankruptcy Court, declaring assets of $13,622.21 against liabilities of $4,530,258.23.
Feb. 7, 2019: The City Council unanimously selects Asheville-based Blue Star Hospitality LLC to build a six-story hotel on the city-owned Dogwood parking lot, which the city would sell to the developer. Design plans Blue Star submitted include a parking deck, convention space and rooftop bar or restaurant.