By Scott Baltic
Charlestowne Hotels, of Charleston, S.C., has opened The Foundry Hotel, an 87-key, Curio Collection by Hilton–flagged boutique property in Asheville, N.C. The approximately $30 million property is partly new, partly an adaptive reuse of a 20th-century steel foundry, all within view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Sited at 51 S. Market St. in Asheville’s historic neighborhood The Block, The Foundry Hotel combines two new buildings with three structures from the foundry, in total roughly 91,000 square feet, a Hilton spokesperson told Commercial Property Executive. The property features original hardwood floors, exposed bricks and beams, steel-star fastenings and industrial-style windows.
The 87 guestrooms include 12 suites ranging from 315 to 1,200 square feet. On-site amenities include the Workshop Lounge, regionally inspired dining at Benne on Eagle, and a retail marketplace with hiking gear and locally sourced items, as well as 4,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor event space. The hotel’s house car is a Tesla Model X.
Five-time James Beard nominee John Fleer will lead Benne on Eagle, a 100-seat restaurant offering dishes “honoring the contributions African Americans have made to Appalachian cuisine.” Workshop Lounge, a second-floor lobby bar, offers brews from nearby BearWaters Brewing and cocktails featuring locally distilled spirits.
Charlestowne’s other adaptive-reuse projects have included The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens in St. Augustine, Fla.; The Fairlane Hotel in Nashville; Hotel Clermont in Atlanta; and The Bristol Hotel in Bristol, Va.
In January, Hilton announced plans to expand its Curio Collection brand to more than 100 properties worldwide by 2020.
Maybe it’s those mountains
In 2016, Buncombe County, N.C., attracted 3.8 million overnight guests, not bad for a county with only 238,000 in population at the 2010 census. Tourism is so important to the county that one in seven jobs there is supported by tourism, and without tourism, the county’s unemployment would be 15.2 percent, according to the Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The hotel sector in Asheville, which has more than 1,800 guestrooms in the pipeline through 2019, is nonetheless potentially controversial. In October, Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer questioned whether taxpayers were subsidizing infrastructure improvements that are being driven by tourism and said she was considering a temporary hotel ban, the Asheville Citizen Times reported last month.