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Dogwood proposal unlike Sunflower, council members say

In the coming weeks, the Hendersonville City Council expects to be looking at plans for a five- or six-story hotel on the Dogwood lot property on North Church Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues.

Although some city residents are already raising an alarm about the proposal, council members have been unanimous so far in their support for the project. A downtown hotel, city leaders say, is not like the Sunflower, the controversial nine-story luxury condo project that convulsed city politics in 2006.
“It’s not as high. It won’t interfere with the Courthouse dome,” Mayor Barbara Volk said. “It is outside the core of downtown. I’ve met some people that for a variety of reasons are very much opposed to it. One of them says it will take up parking. But they’re building a parking deck … so that’s not a good argument.” Another argument opponents make is that “it doesn’t fit in with the character of the community,” Volk said. “This community used to be hotels and boarding houses. We’re going back to what it used to be.”
She conceded that a new hotel won’t look like a replica of a 1920s hotel. “But that’s one of the things we’ve talked about, is to have final say on the materials that are used, to not look like the ones that are being built out on the expressway,” she said. “We want it to be quality. We want it to be an enhancement for downtown.”
Steve Caraker, who got elected to the council after working against the 2006 Sunflower proposal, says a hotel on Church at Fourth ought not be seen as a threat to the historic character of Main Street.
“I think it’s a good thing for downtown,” he said. “For years, ever since we did studies six or eight years ago, I think one of the pieces of economic development downtown is a hotel. The Dogwood is underutilized for parking, if we get the right project and fit in with the height restriction, which I think is doable, we replace the parking we’re taking away, we add more parking, we add a meeting place. If we put 120 rooms a block off Main Street, that’s the next big business boom besides the redo of Main Street from north to south, because it’s going to put the customer base a block away. That drives restaurants, that drives shops, that drives everything.”
The council voted unanimously on Feb. 7 to direct staff to negotiate an agreement with Blue Star Hospitality LLC of Fletcher for the hotel. Blue Star proposed a six-story hotel with conference space, a parking garage and rooftop bar.