Revitalizing the Past to Inspire the Future - October 2018
One of the things that sets WEAVERCOOKE apart is how connected we are to the things that we build. We look forward to seeing how the buildings we spend so long working on become part of the community they were built for. While it’s always exciting to see how a new project can shape the area around it, it can be even more exciting to revitalize a building that has lost its original purpose. By renovating under-used or unoccupied buildings we can make significant changes to how successful the surrounding area can be. Two of our projects in the Appalachian Mountains – Eagle Market Place and The Bristol Hotel, which both recently completed construction – really illustrate the capacity that historical renovation has to transform an area.
Eagle Market Place is a revitalization of an area called The Block. For decades, The Block was a center for economic growth and a social hub for the African-American community in Asheville. However, after Pack Square was built, The Block fell into disuse. In 1991, Eagle Market Street and its surrounding area were declared “blighted,” and Eagle Market Street Development began developing a plan to bring the area back to its former glory through a revitalization of The Block. They ultimately created a partnership with Mountain Housing Opportunities, whose experience with developing tax credit financed projects made them a natural fit for the goals of the redevelopment.
Eagle Market Place was modeled after the historical significance of The Block. It provides 62 units of affordable and work-force housing, which is similar to the 70 units of apartments that were rented on The Block during its heyday. It also provides a small business incubator, to try to recreate its capacity as a center for economic growth. Eagle Market Place is intended to be the anchor that The Block used to be, and it honors the roots it grew out of as much as possible. The brick fašade and some interiors from the Dr. Collete Building, the Del Cardo Building, and the Ritz Building were all incorporated into the project. This gives it a unique aesthetic that combines modern architecture with historic preservation. The overall look of the building is that of the future growing from the past.
Another project where we have worked hard to return a building to its original purpose is the Bristol Hotel. The Bristol Hotel was originally designed to be a hotel, but halfway through its construction in the 1920’s the owner found out that another hotel was being built nearby. It was renamed The Reynolds Arcade and became a center for business. The current owner, Marcus McCall, purchased the building in the 1980’s, when it was called Executive Plaza. McCall ultimately decided that they should renovate the building to use it for its original intent – as a boutique hotel.
Grants from the city and from Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission provided the seed capital that allowed McCall to pursue tax credits and secure the rest of the funding for the project. The hotel recently opened, and provides 65 luxurious guest rooms, as well as a historic arcade for events and gatherings, a Southern-style kitchen, and a rooftop bar.
We look forward to seeing the impact that these projects will have on the communities they are a part of.