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ASHEVILLE – Biltmore may build a 190-room hotel in Antler Hill Village to offer more lodging to guests who want to stay on George Vanderbilt's estate.

The Biltmore Company filed an application with Buncombe County on Monday for a conditional zoning permit and will start to bid out the project. "It's the next step in the process, but we still have not made a decision to build," said Kathleen Mosher, Biltmore's communications director.

As part of the analysis, bids from construction companies will be collected over the summer. A final decision could come in early August. Pending the final decision, construction could begin in mid-August with the hotel open to guests in 2015.

The company started a similar process in July 2011, considering the construction of a 152-room luxury hotel, the Lodge on Biltmore Estate, but decided not to pursue the project after collecting bids and more research, Mosher said.

Biltmore officials do not have a dollar estimate for the new project.

Designs are for a 145,000 square-foot, four-story structure with 190 double- and king-sized guest rooms adjacent to the Winery in Antler Hill Village.

Biltmore is working with PGAV Destinations, designers of the estate's Antler Hill Village.

Biltmore has not settled on a name for the proposed hotel or a price point for the rooms.

Surveys done with research panels show the concept is popular, Mosher said. "This is in response to our guests who do ask about more lodging on the estate."

The seven-story, 167,000-square foot Inn on Biltmore opened in 2001 and has proved very successful for the estate, Mosher said. The luxury hotel has 201 guest rooms and nine suites, above the winery, but tucked away from view from the Biltmore House.

Buncombe County's zoning ordinance requires that the county Board of Adjustment approve buildings over 35,000-square feet in the county's commercial service zoning district, which includes the Biltmore Estate, said Josh O'Conner, the county's zoning administrator. "Biltmore has filed for a conditonal use permit. The plans are conceptual now. The review will get more rigorous as it goes along."

The Board of Adjustment will take up the plans at its July 9 meeting.

Biltmore is trending toward a record year in visitation. With a fiscal year starting in July 2013 and closing at the end of this month, the estate could see 1.2 million guests.

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