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Council OKs talks for six-story hotel on Dogwood lot

The Hendersonville City Council made a big stride to attract a hotel downtown when it selected a Fletcher-based hospitality management company on Thursday to develop a six-story facility on the Dogwood parking lot on North Church Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues.

 

The council emerged from a closed session after its regular meeting and voted to authorize City Manager John Connet and the city staff to start negotiations with Satis Patel, of Blue Star, which proposed a six-story hotel last October.

The Fletcher company was one of two respondents when the city invited developers to submit concepts for a downtown hotel with 80 to 120 rooms and meeting space for 150 to 300 people. Blue Star proposed conference space that would accommodate 200 people while the other developer proposed a five-story hotel with meeting space for 150. Both said they would provide more parking spaces than the 157 spaces the city would lose on the Dogwood lot.

The city has offered to sell the property to the developer and invest the proceeds in a parking deck to replace the Dogwood lot spaces. Both hotel proposals more than make up for the loss. The city-owned Dogwood lot has a tax value of $764,600 and market value of $1,098,000.

"Basically now I think the council wants us to get into negotiations to make sure we pick the right brand for our community" and that the design "blends with the community," Connet said. "What it looks like, what is the brand and how we handle parking" are the council's highest priority. There's no timetable yet for when Blue Star might commit to construction and close on the purchase of the property, Connet said.

Blue Star has indicated it would partner with an existing hotel brand. It says on its website that it has business relationships with Marriott International Inc., Hilton Worldwide, Wyndham Worldwide and Choice Hotels International Inc. Founded in 1995 when it built a Holiday Inn Express, Blue Star since then has developed 21 other hotel, retail and real estate projects in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Florida.

A building of five or six stories would be the largest proposed development downtown since the failed Sunflower (later Carolina Grand), a nine-story condo a developer wanted to build in the mid-2000s. That proposal so infuriated city residents that they pushed for and got a referendum to overrule the council’s approval of the project. More than two-thirds of residents who turned out for the referendum in 2006 voted to impose a 64-foot building height cap. Council members have said a hotel on the Dogwood lot would not as obtrusive as the big project a developer pushed for the 100 block of First Avenue East in 2005.