Last night, Asheville City Council gave John McKibbon permission to go ahead with revamping the BB&T building downtown. The building is described by experts as ugly, but I’ve always found elegance in its simplicity and symmetry. Regardless, it will now have a base-middle-cap orientation with most massing at the base and fenestration the architecturally literate will not find offensive. On top of all the meetings McKibbon had held with the community, wherein nobody expressed outrage; and all the levels of design review, which only met with one dissenting vote – McKibbon promised to give the city $250,000 for its Affordable Housing Trust Fund and utilize a special Gordon Smith transit pass. He promised Cecil Bothwell he had procured corporate permission from another of his hotels to remove the neon lights, which were all right with a rube like me. All this was added to the new, wide sidewalks he would be adding to help the city with its proverbial problem of having tourists go downtown and wreck up the sidewalks and pay nothing but a tourist tax and tourist dollars to stimulate the economy in return. He also had promised to hire local artists and pay a living wage to all fulltime employees.

“Only fulltime employees!” scoffed one downtown busker. Timothy Sadler suggested, and council embraced, the idea of making McKibbon’s offer, in no small part his brainchild, the McKibbon gold standard for construction downtown. Sadler, an expert on everything specializing in marijuana legalization, is a regular common tater at council meetings.

As it turned out, McKibbon offered the gifts to the city without a fight, but with a smile. It was merely an extension of his kindly philanthropy that extends throughout downtown. But that was not enough for newcomers to council Brian Haynes and Keith Young. They had made a promise to their constituents to combat the proliferation of chain hotels destroying the vibrant pulse of more viable downtown activities like panhandling and beating on a drum. Although McKibbon also offered to help the city lobby the local delegation to make a portion of the new, 2-cent increase in the tourist tax (taxation without representation) available for things like affordable housing instead of tourist traps (redistribution of the wealth); Haynes and Young voted against. McKibbon had named the other guys’ prices.