The FIRC Group Inc., based in Asheville, plans to build a 148-room hotel, 180 multi-family condominiums and 10,300 square feet of retail space on a 27-acre site in Enka. These renderings show the hotel and condo buildings. (Photo: Studio Z Architecture)

ENKA – An Asheville hotel company plans to build a 148-room hotel, 180 multifamily condominiums and retail space on a 27-acre site in Enka.

The FIRC Group Inc. has filed an application for the project with the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment, which will conduct a hearing on the proposal at its 9 a.m. meeting Nov. 18. The Board of Adjustment has final say on such projects in Buncombe County.

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FIRC is the company that built the Cambria Hotel in downtown Asheville and the Country Inn & Suites near Westgate Shopping Center. The company, headed by founder and President Tony Fraga, also owns and operates the Haywood Park Hotel downtown.

The Enka project, called “Enka Main Street,” will also include 10,300 square feet of retail space and a new restaurant, Café Verona. Plans call for the project to be built in phases, with a completion date in 2022, according to application documents.

The project will be located off Sand Hill Road, near Smokey Park Highway, behind the Ingles supermarket. The site, which has an address of 1568 Sand Hill Road, includes two parcels, both owned by FIRC.

The property is zoned “Commercial Services,” and the hotel, condos and retail are all allowable under that designation.

While some neighbors have complained about increased traffic in the area, particularly on Sand Hill Road, the traffic impact analysis conducted for the project states it “should not have a significant adverse impact on the surrounding roadway network.” The project will be accessible off Sand Hill Road by the current Ingles entrance, but application documents state the three buildings will have two access points from an existing side road.

In its application, FIRC noted the traffic study indicated “that no improvements are required in order for the connection to be approved (by the N.C. DOT). The project includes an extensive internal sidewalk system, facilitating pedestrian circulation

within the project site.”

The Asheville office of the North Carolina Department of Transportation said Nov. 17 plans do call for widening of N.C. 112 (Sand Hill Road/Sardis Road) from N.C. 191 (Brevard Road) to U.S. 19/23 (Smokey Park Highway).

“We have not vetted any concepts or plans yet,” DOT spokesman David Uchiyama said. “Once the project resumes, we’ll be looking at concepts, going to the public for input, looking at multimodal options, etc.”

Several DOT road projects statewide have been delayed because of financial constraints. 

For the Sardis/Sand Hill widening, Uchiyama said right of way acquisition will begin in 2025, letting of contracts in 2028.

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The FIRC application states 534 parking spaces are proposed “within structured parking facilities” for the hotel and condos, with another 140 spaces in surface lots between buildings.

An Asheville hotel company, the FIRC Group Inc., plans to build a 148-room hotel, 180 multi-family condominiums and retail space on a 27-acre site in Enka. The project will include a new restaurant, Café Verona. (Photo: Studio Z Architecture)

The two lots have an allowable density under county rules of 12 units per acre, and FIRC plans to meet that by partly combining the two lots it owns.

In the application plans, the hotel is listed as a Springhill Suites by Marriott. 

The hotel will be 56 feet high, the condo building 60 feet and the retail building 28 feet. 

The application states the project will not have any adverse effects on health or safety, or on nearby property values.

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Buncombe County Planning Department staff took little issue with the proposal, although staff did make recommendations for a riparian buffer along watercourse to the south of the site, and for a landscaping requirement along the east and south portions of the development. That will provide screening for the back of the hotel, which faces a public road, and for the rear of the condo building.

Staff also noted that the maximum allowed building height in the CS district is 50 feet, and the application requests building heights that exceed that. That issue will have to be addressed by the board.

“The Board should include a maximum building height in the conditions of approval,” staff wrote.

The Nov. 18 meeting will be held on a virtual platform, but it is open to the public. For information on how to attend online, visit the Board of Adjustment website:

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