Asheville City Council moves to hotel moratorium

By Pete Kaliner

September 13, 2019

This week, the Asheville City Council set the public hearing for imposing a one-year ban on any new hotel project.During this same meeting, Council also rejected a hotel project called Create 72 Broadway.

It was opposed by people who don't want the farmers market to have to relocate or adjust it's footprint - which currently occupies Market St. for a few hours each weekend.

There is already a three-vote anti-hotel bloc on City Council consisting of Sheneika Smith, Brian Haynes and Keith Young (I've dubbed it "The SHYfecta" based on the initials of their last names).

So, most hotel projects are the proverbial "dead man walking" if they even make it to a Council vote at all.

Councilman Vijay Kapoor said he was inclined to vote no on the project because he believes there are too many hotels downtown, although the farmers market concerns were also a part of his calculation.

According to Kapoor, the number of hotel rooms we have (and are in the pipeline already being built) is too many. What kind of market analysis did the Councilman cite to support this belief?

None. He cited no data.

It's just his opinion, apparently. It's a opinion shared by many others, to be sure. But there is no data that has been used to support this belief. Even the City Council's mis-named "deep dive" into the hotel industry a few months ago didn't offer us any proof of this assertion.

Before Kapoor made his opinion known, he asked the City Attorney to outline legally justifiable reasons to vote down a project. It appears his "too many hotels in downtown" excuse satisfied him.

Don Beck spoke in defense of the project.

Beck knows the hotel owner.

He's also a commercial real estate broker.

He DOES have the data.

He explained how hotels are necessary to help cities grow new industries. The first step to finding new locations is drawing up site selection criteria. Hotel rooms is a key criteria.

"Businesses rely on hotels for visiting customers, suppliers, guests, holding off-site meetings, and to house potential employees when they're in town for interviews," he said. "If hotel rooms are not abundant and affordable, cities are not considered strong candidates for corporate relocations."

He also noted the obvious -- that the cost of hotel rooms is so prohibitively high because there aren't enough rooms to meet the demand.

Beck is apparently laboring under the delusion that economics is part of this Council's decision-making process.

You can watch the meeting here:

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