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Applicants release video promoting proposed Cedars development

Tom Shipman, filmed in front of The Cedars, talks about the historic guest house his family has operated since 1978. Tom Shipman, filmed in front of The Cedars, talks about the historic guest house his family has operated since 1978.

The Shipman family and architect Tamara Peacock have released a new video promoting the Cedars Lodge and Spa, a proposed 200,000-square-foot development that would include hotel rooms, condos, an conference center, spa and swimming pool while saving the historic Cedars Guest House.

"The Cedars will stand out in front of the new buildings and these new buildings will have a granite base with brick that matches," Peacock says in the 5-minute video, which includes historic black-and-white photos of the city in the early 1900s, photos of the Cedars and interviews with the Shipmans and others.

The property owners — Fran and Tom Shipman, his mother, Delores Shipman, and other family members — have applied for a rezoning to permit the development on the site of the Cedars and the Chariot, the civic club meeting venue that would be removed. The city has set a neighborhood compatibility meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday for the rezoning request.

 

Built in 1914 by Capt. J.W. Bailey, a Southern Railway executive, for his wife, Jeannie Bailey, The Cedars served tourists and other travelers who arrived by train and disembarked at the Hendersonville depot a few blocks east.

"Back then the function of the hotel was not elabotate," Peacock says. "It was advertised because it had hot water."

Starting in 1978, the Shipmans have operated the Cedars as an event center for weddings, club meetings and corporate gatherings. Nearing retirement, Fran and Tom tested the sales waters and put the historic property and surrounding acreage on the market.

"Most of the people that wanted to buy this building wanted to tear it down," Tom says, "so that has changed our opinion about selling it."

"That was not in my picture," Delores Shipman, the widow of longtime business leader Clifton Shipman, says of a Cedars demolition. "We said, 'No. It’s here to stay.'"

Instead, the Shipmans, in partnership with Tom and Fran's son-in-law, a Miami developer, retained Peacock to draw up a master plan that makes The Cedars a grand centerpiece of the new development. Plans call for a big kitchen renovation so The Cedars can serve as a restaurant and event space for the development.

An upscale hotel with meeting space would fill a gap downtown, Chamber of Commerce President Bob Williford says.

"We don’t have a high quality hotel in the downtown area that would draw small conferences and weddings and other events like that to our community and I think the Cedars hotel would plug that gap. It's going to help fill up other hotels, other bed and breakfasts, other inns," he says. "This is a great opportunity to hold on to the heritage of what we have."

Tourism Development Authority director Beth Carden agrees.

"They will be marketing this property around the world and it will bring people here that will be overflow into other properties,” she says. Given that tourists spend an average $200 a day, she adds, the spinoff could be substantial. "This property alone could make multiple millions of dollars worth of economic impact in our community."