by Sam Hieb
At last night’s meeting, the Asheville City Council unanimously voted to ban new hotel construction for up to a year. According to the Citizen-Times, the decision “follows years of concerns voiced by residents over the negative impacts of the $2 billion tourism and the hotel industry.”
The Citizen-Times reported earlier that a hotel moratorium was raised after the “controversial” City Council vote to allow the historic Flatiron building to be converted into a hotel. The major concern is that Asheville is losing its character in the process of becoming a tourist town. According to statistics from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, more that 1,000 hotel rooms have opened in the last five years, generating $25 million in hotel taxes, much of which goes toward marketing efforts to attract—you guessed it–more tourists.
Citizen-Times columnist John Boyle weighs in, concluding that a moratorium “would prevent any more boxy, unattractive hotels going up, at least for a year,” which in turn would “keep at least one old codger happy.” I guess that’s what Asheville needs to decide for itself–whether it wants to expose itself to outsiders who might at some point decide to locate there—and bring business with it—or keep the old codgers happy.