Winston-Salem Ranked Highest in NC for ‘Zombie’ Foreclosures


 WINSTON-SALEM—Winston-Salem has the highest number of so-called “zombie” foreclosures in the state.

A new report says about 8.5 percent of all foreclosures in the city are considered as such. But longtime realtors in the area paint a much different picture of the area market.

RealtyTrac, a national real estate research firm, defines zombie foreclosures as those where the house is already under foreclosure and owners pack up and leave it vacant.

“I think one of the reasons that people have anxiety around foreclosures is that they want to know, ‘Is this going to affect the value of my property?’” said Winston-Salem city council member Jeff MacIntosh, who is also a realtor.

MacIntosh says he’s just not seeing many of them in his business.

“In the market right now, we’re not seeing a negative impact from foreclosures,” MacIntosh said. “We are seeing probably the healthiest, strongest market for single family residential as we’ve seen in the last seven or eight years.”

“I’m not seeing that at all,” said Fannie Fleming, a realtor with Coldwell Banker. “In fact, I thought foreclosures were going down. I have been able to sell homes at great prices in a very timely fashion this year, so I don’t understand those statistics at all.”

Area realtors also point out that RealtyTrac’s definition of a zombie house is one where the U.S. Postal Service is not longer delivering mail; so oftentimes, a house will remain vacant, but it’s not necessarily in foreclosure. Realtors say they have several just like that.

“I have someone coming in that’s selling their mom’s house who has passed away,” said John McPherson with Coldwell Banker. “That would probably be a zombie thing there, and it’s just vacant because someone has passed.”

McPherson adds that he’s on track for his best year ever.

“I am within striking distance to sell the same number of homes as I did last year, in the month of June,” he said.

RealtyTrac says states with the most vacant “zombie” foreclosures are New Jersey, New York, Florida and Illinois.


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Spec homes return to WNC’s landscape

But Asheville builders and bankers say increased activity spans the spectrum, from “affordable” to high-end homes.

For the first time since the Great Recession, spec-home construction and lending is up in the Asheville area, some builders and bankers say.

Sparse inventory, combined with high demand for houses, caused some financial institutions about nine months ago to free up funding for spec homes.

“It’s important that the building community is able to offer new homes for people who need a move-in-ready home now,” said Brandon Bryant, president and owner of Red Tree Builders in Asheville.

A spec home is one contractors build on speculation, without a confirmed buyer. Developers typically build those types of homes only in areas where they believe a profit will occur.

“Having a healthily balance of new homes and resales balances the market for buyers,” said Bryant, the Asheville Home Builders Association first vice president and a national director for the National Association of Home Builders in Washington, D.C.

“Currently, home buyers have to grapple with the lack of inventory,” Bryant said. “Banks allowing spec loans does allow builders and developers to respond to the demand out there.”

The number of houses in Buncombe County for less than $300,000 is the lowest in roughly a decade, said Don Davies, founder of Asheville-based Realsearch, a company that analyzes real estate trends. Just 441 with an average asking price of $213,106 existed at the beginning of the month, he said.

“We opened up a little bit in the more affordable range at $350,000 and lower about six to nine months ago,” said David Kozak, Asheville Savings Bank executive vice president and chief credit officer.

“That’s what we, as a community, need for working people,” said Kozak, who added that industry analyses and market-share studies showed consumers couldn’t find homes in that price range.

He cautioned, however, that the bank green-lights loans for up to 10 spec homes at any one time.

“We’re not going hog wild on this,” Kozak said.

In other words, a few dozen spec homes coming on the region’s market is not going to solve Asheville’s ongoing affordable housing crisis.

A Nationwide report published last month concluded the Asheville metro area’s housing market has reached unsustainable levels.

The study’s authors ranked the metro area market as the nation’s sixth unhealthiest because of the widening gap between the region’s housing prices and wage levels, said David Berson, Nationwide senior vice president and chief economist.

Finite buildable land is another reason housing costs continue to climb, said Jamie Dose, president of Old Northstate Building Co. in Swannanoa. Because what land is available exists in a mountainous region with rivers, contractors must grapple with complex situations like steep slopes and flood plains, Dose said.

“The dynamics of the (Appalachian) mountains make it a very complex situation,” he said. “People can get more for land because there’s not much of it.”

Dose and his company work with Asheville Savings Bank exclusively, he said.

Old Northstate was the first builder the bank restarted spec-home lending with, Dose said Asheville Savings officials told him. Other companies now are obtaining such loans from the bank.

Dose predicted spec-home lending practices would “continue to expand” across the community because “we’re going to have to have the release of capital to meet the demand.”

The higher-end market for spec-home construction lending freed up even earlier, said Robert Sulaski, a principal and cofounder of Sulaski & Tinsley Homes.

That Asheville-based design-and-build company constructs homes ranging from roughly $475,000 to $1.8 million, said Sulaski, whose company helped develop Biltmore Park.

“Within the last eight to 12 months — the bulk of which are between $650,000 and $900,000,” Sulaski said, describing when the spec-home loan environment shifted.

“We’re consistently building 12 to 14 spec homes,” he said. The buyers “come from other cities.”

Sulaski acknowledged those residences don’t fit into the affordable category, but he said the people who purchase them are a boon to the local economy nonetheless.

They often are small-business owners who “instantly reinvest” in the community, he said.

They bring parts of their businesses to town, buy cars and other products from Asheville-area companies, and bring in revenue by attracting friends who spend money on expensive hotel rooms and restaurants, Sulaski said.

Richard Whitney, president of Whitney Commercial Real Estate in Asheville, concurred.

“That’s exactly my position,” Whitney said. “The money’s coming in.”

Consumer confidence continues to rise, he said. “I don’t suspect problems for years.”

Plus, more people are buying houses, said Peter Best, senior vice president and head of Capital Bank’s Asheville commercial team.

“We’re doing more lending in the speculative market because we’re really centered on the rebound in the housing market,” Best said. “But we’re looking for partners, not whales. We’re not going for home runs. We’re looking for builders with whom we can build relationships.”


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Buncombe, Asheville property transfers for May 2-6

The following transfers were filed in the Register of Deeds office May -6.


Lot 25 Spring Cove Court, $365,000, William B. and Ava Coo Holler to David Angelo Maida, Laura Elizabeth Palermo


184 New Haw Creek Road, $450,000, Fellowship Freewill Baptist Church Inc. to John Christoph LLC

486 Kimberly Ave., $520,000, Elizabeth Stoneberg to Larry Christ

Unit 4506 Phase V Biltmore Commons, $118,000, Laurie B. Calvert to Gary Rogers and Ellen Erwin Rickman

17 King St. (Lot 5 and a portion of lot 4), $180,000, Mary-Anne and Joseph G. Young to Caitlin P. Schell, Michael D. Mattil

Lot 16 block J Beverly Hills, $232,500, RHW Investments LLC to John and Yolanda A. Jopling

Lot 3 Forest Lake Park 2 subdivision, $318,000, Jon S. and Kelly J. Pettit to Marianna Daly

332 Montford Ave., $461,000, Estate of Dorothy Davis Black to the Linda Voorhees Revocable Trust Agreement

225 School Road E., $240,000, Margaret F. Coates to Donald and Terri Kennedy

Lot 37 Baker Heights, $206,500, Thomas M and Sharon C. Clayton to Zachary A. Kilberg, Elizabeth Clayton

Unit 1302 Biltmore Commons phase 4, $2,000, Ruth Jackson Brooks to Ruth Jackson (Ninety-Nine percent interest) and Timothy R. Brooks (One percent interest)

Unit 415 Beaucatcher House Condominiums, $110,000, Whitney Trace Development LLC to Tarek Joran Inkidar

Lot 11 Brown View Park, $200,000, Daniel Francis and Paige Parker Scully, Breah Livols Parker to Julyan H. Davis

Black Mountain

Lot 33 and a portion of lot 32 at the Southeastern Christian Assembly (0.385 acre), $260,000, Kurt Randall and Sandy J. Shaffer to Candace Rae Freeland

Broad River

Tract 8 Timberline subdivision (.39 acres), $165,00, Bambi P. and W. Lee Smith III to Danielle L. Davison

Buncombe County

Lot 63 Mallard Run subdivision phase 1, $210,000, Windsor Built Homes Inc. to Kristi L. and Angela D. McClung

144 Ballard Cove Road, $560,000, Deborah Tatko to Northern Black Tortoise LLC

50 Trinity Chapel Road (Lots 22 & 24), $250,000, Laura Elizabeth Palermo, Laura P. Sadler to Benjamin Reeves, Emily Sheffield

Lot 70 Pinebrook Farms phase 1, $358,000, Pinebrook Farms LLC to Edward J. and Vickie L. Hauser

Lots 4-5 block O Blue Ridge Forest, $221,500, Lance M. Fitzpatrick to Jennifer McGee

123 Hemphill Road (0.123 acre), $163,500, GMC Investments Properties LLC to Alicia Lynden Stewart

48 Maude Ave. (0.47 acre), $182,000, JG Marcus Homes Inc. to Alice Dunlap

34 Gray St. (Lot 22), $385,000, The Freddie Lytle Memorial Trust to Gary M. Bunch

Lot 4 Malvern Hills block F, $100,000, Gregory F. and Kathleen D. Lewis to April Long and Taylor Jones Fisher

312 Dix Creek Road 1 (Lot 1, 0.774 acre), $250,000, George R. and Dorothy D. Lane to Joan Lacy Chancey

67 Cub Road (0.25 acre), $220,000, Maria Gwen Durham to Peter Adams, Melanie London

22 Tiverton Lane (Lot 24 Devonshire subdivision phase 1), $527,500, Kostas N. and Emily A. Rantzos to Kevin and Carolyn Katechis

63 Westwood Place, $225,000, Asheville & Associates Real Estate LLC to PB&J Capital LLC

Lot 31 section IV Camelot Subdivision, $170,000, Megan N. Sutton, Andrew R. Tait to Kyle N. Watkins, Loretta A. and Kerry (Watkins-Wiesner) Wiesner

22 Teaberry Lane (3.22 acres), $4,000, John C. Dillingham to John Payne

26 Penny Lane (Lo 13 Monticello Estates), $305,000, Michael L. Booker Arnold (Booker-Arnold) and Terry V. Stalcup to Robin Sue and Jerald E. Summers Jr.

Unit 644 High Vistas Road (Lot 90 High Vista Falls phase 3), $480,000, Christopher Steven and Angela Harmon Crawford to Jason Allen Boyer, Sandra Marie Garcia

Lot 60 Hyde Park phase 1, $50,000, King Land Development LLC to Sheila Rhew Sullivan

Lots 2-3 & 3-A Stradley Farms, $735,000, Stradley Farms LLC to Erin Margaret and Dale Howard Freudenberger

Lots 226-227 Horney Heights and Lots 9-12 of Laurel Terrace, $18,000, Dennis and Janet W. Taylor to Daygreen LLC

Unit 1 Cluster R of the Crowfields Condominiums, $240,000, Estate of Richard Gallagher, Richard V. Gallagher II, Kevin J. Gallagher and Robert Long, Patrick J. and Karen Gallagher to Connie W. and George H. Watson III

73 Mountain St., $33,000, McArthur to Pamela A. and Harry T. Coleman Jr.

Unit 59 block A2 of Biltmore Lake phase 1, $390,000, Jeffrey and Margaret Tew to William Scott and Crystal Marie Wilkie

Lot 14 Woodland Estates, $359,500, Trust Agreements of James P. and Janice K. Brandt to Sean and Lindsey McCann


Lot 41 Bridgewater (2.63 acres), $113,000, Taylor Ranch Inc. to James and Anne Baumstark

Lot 23 Bridgewater (1.51 acres), $120,000, Taylor Ranch Inc. to Billy Eugene and Phyllis Ann Buck


Lots 2-3 Dix Creek 1 Estates, $75,000, George R. and Dorothy D. Lane to Dix Creek 1 Estates LLC

Lower Hominy

Lot 2 Summer Hill Place phase 1, $258,000, Michael Eugene and Janet Elaine Buckner to Casey Scott and Lindsey H. Mills


Lots 47-49-51 summer Haven section D, $355,000, Ronald and Shirley Halliburton to Marjorie Ellen Smith, Todd William Wall

28 Lots Mountain Lane (1.5 acres), $10,000, C. Jerry and Felicia Williams to Jerry Chandler


Lot 43 Garrison Hills, $115,000, 4710 Holdings LLC to Dennis J. Eflein and Dawn R. and Dennis J. and Dawn Eflein Joint Community Property Trust

Lot 41 Garrison Hills, $89,000, 4710 Holdings LLC to Kristofer Michael and Tammy L. Allison

Compiled by Citizen-Times News Correspondent Bonnie Black via

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Self-Directed IRA Investors Take Note – 70 Percent of Investors Lost Money in 2015 through Stocks – Jim Hitt Responds to This News

Self-Directed IRA Investors Take Note – 70 Percent of Investors Lost Money in 2015 through Stocks – Jim Hitt Responds to This News

On paper, 2015 shouldn’t have been a terrible year for stock investors; the S&P 500 ended the year just 1.75 percent above where it began. Jim Hitt says, “Self-Directed IRA investors who diversified their portfolios realized a much better outcome.”

Charlotte, NC (PRWEB) May 10, 2016

The value of a Self-Directed IRA is the ability to diversify assets beyond stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. According to data from Openfolio, an app that lets users compare how their actually investments are faring against others who are using the app, taking cash flows into account, the vast majority of stock investors actually lost money – 3.09 percent, on average. In other words, the average investor lagged an un-managed index by as much as 4.84 percentage points, once you take actual cash-flow adjusted returns into account.

“Stocks are a tough asset class to get market beating results in,” says Jim Hitt, president and CEO of American IRA, an Asheville, North Carolina-based firm that supports investors who prefer to use Self-Directed IRA accounts to invest retirement money in alternative or unusual asset classes not often found in IRA and 401(k) accounts. “Even the best, most experienced fund managers have trouble. The average investor playing the stock market is at a huge disadvantage. A lot of our clients prefer to sidestep the S&P issue and invest directly in gold, real estate, private equity, private placements, and other areas where they aren’t competing directly against institutional investors,” Jim Hitt continues.

Younger investors fared worse. The burden of lackluster return fell primarily on younger investors last year: Investors age 25 and under lost an average if 3.8 percent last year, while 50-64 year-olds lost an average of 2.2 percent.

Even normally risk-averse senior citizens managed to convert an up year for the S&P into actual account losses – losing 1.7 percent, on average, over the year.

Women, as it happened, outperformed men, by a healthy margin: Men lost 3.78 percent over the course of the year, on average. Women only lost 2.54 percent.

And how did financial professionals fare? Dismally, say Openfolio’s data. Financiers lost more than 4 percent – far worse than techies (-2.12 percent), engineers (-2.04 percent) and the top-performing profession on the job: teachers, who lost a modest 1.5 percent, on average.

Jim Hitt says, “It really goes back to the tried and true method…diversification. Investors need to broaden the asset areas they invest in so that their overall portfolio remains intact even when one asset fails to perform.”

About American IRA, LLC:

American IRA is committed to providing every client with gold-level service, regardless of account size. Experience their expertise through their certified IRA services professionals. Enjoy the value with one low annual fee of $285 with unlimited assets and unlimited account values. American IRA clients love the benefit of no charge for “All Cash” accounts. The performance of the American IRA staff is unmatched, with quick and efficient processing within 48 hours.

American IRA services thousands of clients and has over $300 million in assets under administration.

American IRA was built by investors for investors, and brings their successful investment experience to the table, providing excellent educational material showing the public that their self-directed IRA account can invest in a variety of assets such as real estate, private lending, limited liability companies, precious metals and much more.

American IRA is conveniently located in Asheville, NC and Charlotte, NC, and serves clients nationwide.

American IRA is the sponsor of American Wealth Radio. Click here for more information.

For the original version on PRWeb visit:

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Buncombe, Asheville Property Transfers for April 11-15

Buncombe, Asheville Property Transfers for April 11-15

The following transfers were filed in the Register of Deeds office April 11-15.


34 Coventry Wood Drive (Lot 17 Coventry Woods phase 2), $595,000, Alan L. and Lisa B. Dobbins to Kristin B. and Anthony Greer


Unit 625 of the Grove at Appeldoorn Condominiums, $107,000, Jack Bryson Bradley to Michael Schlesinger

12 Shaker Court (Lot 40 of the Grove At Haw Creek), $,000, Boulevard Development Group LLC to Susan Mandelkern

Portion of lot 11 Hillside Park (0.0921 acre), $310,000, Rosemarie Vardell, Deborah J. Cassidy to Amy Bircher

9 Kenilworth Knoll 105 (Unit 105 Beaucatcher House Condominiums), $129,000, Beau Holdings Inc. to Equity Trust Company Custodian FBS John Watson IRA

340 Camelia Lane, $60,000, Deborah C. and R. Thomas Sofield Jr. to Jose A. Cordova

115 Norwood Ave. (Lot 61 Norwood subdivision), $365,000, Jeff and Amy Benedict to Monique J. John S. Collins Jr.

Unit O-2 Beaverdam Run Condominiums, $425,000, Gabriela J. Landau Living Trust to Sandra G. Folken, Roger E. Boundy

Lot 29 section 4 Richmond Hill Park, $185,000, Bonnie Hurst to Scott and Carol May

82 Springbrook (Lot 36), $18,000, Robert Michael Jarvis to Hi-Alta Investments LLC

Avery’s Creek

Lot 7 Ashley Wood subdivision phase 1A (0.252 acre), $385,000, John and Susan Ihne Yenne to William J. and Shannon G. Smith

Lot 51 block I sheet 3 of High Vista Country Club, $8,000, Mark A. and Virginia L. Shirey

Black Mountain

15 Jane Jacobs Road Unit 102, $160,000, Lakey Creek LLC to Knox Commercial Holdings LLC

Buncombe County

Lot 13 Village Park, $435,000, The Patricia Harrington Schreiber Revocable Trust to Mark T. Lundblad

182 Old Farm School Road (Lot B), $153,500, Rachel and Steven S. Rowlinson to Matthew I. Gaston

Lot 1 Hawthorne building 37 phase 1, $136,500, Steven L. Obremski to January W. McSwain, Michelle Neimi

Lot 1 Ridge Brook Estates, $301,000, Kimberly Garrison Fisher to Kimberly Clark

378 Haywood Road (0.406 acre), $345,000, Stonehouse Associates to East Haywood LLC

Lot 34 Ashewood Subdivision, $70,000, Ashewood Development LLC to Danny W. Allman

Lot 8 Lakeside Meadows, $309,000, Windsor Build Homes Inc. to Amy J. and Marc Suben

Unit 25 Mill Creek Townhomes, $160,000, Mayfair Partners LLC to Amy M. Moretz

Lot 26 Sovereign Oaks (1.08 acres), $150,000, Andana LLC, The Andrew C. Baker Living Trust to Nathan and Rebekah Owings

Lot 13 Evelyn Acres, $27,000, Erica Lynn McKinney to Homecrafters of Western NC LLC

Lot 36 Ashewood Subdivision phase 4, $50,000, Ashewood Development LLC to Phillip L. and Lisa T. Rahn

Unit 8 of City Homes on State Street Condominiums, $222,000, Paige O. Werhan to Robin Kane

Lot 43 of the Ridge subdivision, $50,000, Leicester Ridge Holdings LLC to Asheville Mountain Homes LLC

Lot 43 of the Ridge subdivision, $397,000, Asheville Mountain Homes LLC to Scott Chandler and Amanda Brice Reames

Lot 11 Tudor Croft, $36,500, Summit Ave. LLC to Scott P. and Marian A. Cook

North Louisiana Avenue property, $30,500, Sybil Beck Spivey to Moss Real Estate Holdings LLC

38C Queen Road (Unit C building 38 of Woodlands Trails Condominiums), $82,000, Branch Banking and Trust Company to Cecilia Taylor and Carol Caldwell Christianson Jr.

1338 Hemphill Road (Lot 4), $35,000, Donna W. (a. k. a. Donna W.) and D. Keith Prinz to CMH Homes Inc.

Lots 3-4 Beverly Hills block U, $235,000, Lorrayne S. McKinney and James Ramsey to Quick Solution Property Group Inc.

Lot 28 Scenic Bluff subdivision, $170,000, Tammy Lee Rollins to Wendy and Kristi Epley Rogers (a. k. a. Epley-Rogers)

2 Pheasant Drive (Lot 2A), $265,000, Curtis L. (a. k. a. Curtis I.) and Valerie P. Canty to Richard S. Yaffin

Lot 62 block A-1 Ramble Biltmore Forest, $867,000, Kristianna F. Nichols, Jeffrey R. Nichols to Mark J. and Angela M. Fletcher

11 Caleb Drive (2 acres), $26,000, Real Estate Properties of the Carolinas LLC to Mayley Cruz Martinez

11 Bohemian Lane, $430,000, Steven S. and Rachel J. Rowlinson to Victor Holliger Jr., Wayne Charles Leonhardt

14 May Hill Place (Lots 13-14 Highland Hills), $270,000, Betty Ann Gilbert to Anne M. Thomas

Lot 7 Miller Cove, $285,000, James and Judy Grob to William Robinson and Kathrine Lynne Heroy

Lot 922 Laurel Ridge phase II, $39,500, Mildred Anne and Bryan Grimes Jr. to Barry A. and Cherie L. Stout

2.83 acres on Garrison Branch Road $550,000, Crystal Jean Ponder or Ponder Hopkins to Serota Mars Hill LLC

155 S. Lexington Ave., Unit B203 (Lexington Station Condominiums), $235,000, David Hastings Beard to Dosia Smith

56 Alabama Ave., $160,000, Estella Virginia Raby Christopher to the Curry Family Partnership LLC

Lot 287 section VI Bent Creek subdivision, $243,000, Linda Powell Smith to Moses Nehemiah and Amber G. Soto


20 White Pine Circle (Lot 8 White Pine subdivision), $285,000, David A. and Debra S. Kuykendall to Sarah Blocher (a. k. a. Blocher-Steiner) and Jaison A. Steiner,


Lot 44 Whispering Pines section II, $265,000, Alan and Judy Turco to Keith A. and Luz Goerz


Lot 11 block 6 Mount Royal, $45,000, Richard C. and Judy S. Allen, Carolyn E. Allen to Douglas M. and Mary C. McLean


16 Mackenzie Way (Lot 5, 1.00 acre), $25,000, Linda V. and Stanley C. McMahan to CMH Homes Inc.

Compiled by Citizen-Times News Correspondent Bonnie Black via


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HGTV Dream Home winner takes cash option

HGTV Dream Home winner takes cash option

The lucky winner of the HGTV Dream Home giveaway took the cash prize instead of the house.Wochit

David Rennie will *not* be calling Merritt Island home sweet home.

Update April 21:

David Rennie’s decision to take the cash will not affect the “HGTV Dream Home 2016” episode, which will air at 1 p.m. May 27. It’ll be hosted by HGTV personality Tiffany Brooks, who surprised Rennie with news that he won the sweepstakes at his church in Connecticut in March. Brooks then filmed a segment with the Rennie family on Merritt Island on April 15 for the big reveal.

In an email to FLORIDA TODAY, HGTV said the “Dream Home” special already is in production and “in these specials, the focal point is the home itself as our viewers get a close-up look at the beauty and design of the house, as well as Mr. Rennie’s reaction to his prize. Regardless of his ultimate decision, he is still the HGTV Dream Home 2016 winner, and people get to share in his joy as he receives the keys and looks around the house for the first time.”

In addition to the Merritt Island riverfront home, there’s another HGTV home for sale.

An HGTV Urban Oasis home at 17 Russell St., West Asheville, N.C., is on the market for $490,000, the Citizen-Times in Asheville (N.C.) reports. The winner of the sweepstakes, Crystal Harriman, of Poulsbo, Wash., decided not to keep the 1,300-square-foot, two-bedroom bungalow after she won the HGTV Urban Oasis Giveaway 2015.

Like the 2016 HGTV Dream Home, the HGTV Urban Oasis home was designed by designer Bryan Patrick Flynn.

According to HGTV, “Some winners decide to keep the home and some take the cash option. It’s really a very personal decision, and each winner must decide what makes the most sense for them and their family at that moment in time. Everyone wants to live the dream of owning their own ‘dream home,’ but either way, for every winner it’s a dream come true.”

Original story, posted April 20:

He took the cash option.

David Rennie, the winner of the 2016 HGTV Dream Home on Merritt Island, accepted the $1.2 million cash option in lieu of the $1.7 million grand prize, RE/MAX 2000 Realtor Rhonda Pavone told FLORIDA TODAY.

“The winner decided to take the cash prize and walk away from the house,” Pavone said in a text message.

The grand prize included a $1.3 million Merritt Island riverfront home, $250,000 in cash, a 2016 GMC Acadia Denali, and a 2016 Bryant Sperenza boat. Because he took the cash option, Rennie gets $900,000, the car and the boat.

The house will be listed for sale, fully furnished, by next week. Pavone said a price tag for the 3,150-square-foot riverfront home on South Merritt Island has not been determined.

Earlier this week, Rennie told FLORIDA TODAY that he was meeting with his tax attorney, accountant, financial adviser and his wife to “hash it all out. It’s a possibility that I have enough money in my savings to do it,” he said. “I just don’t know if I’m prepared to take that kind of risk and wipe everything out to have to have a second house.”

Will David Rennie accept the $1.7 million grand prize in the 2016 HGTV Dream Home sweepstakes or take the $1.2 million cash option? Video posted April 18, 2016, by Jennifer Sangalang, FLORIDA TODAY

Rennie lives in Shelton, Connecticut. In March, HGTV personality Tiffany Brooks surprised Rennie at his church with news that, out of 127 million entries, he won the 2016 HGTV Dream Home.

Pavone, who helped find the home for HGTV for the network’s 20th anniversary, will host a broker open house next week, meaning it will only be open to realtors and not the public.

Designed by Brian Patrick Flynn, the house features water views, a grand staircase, nautical decor and a bold color scheme. Flynn filmed a segment with Brooks and Rennie last week at the home for the big reveal. Rennie, a kidney transplant recipient, details his HGTV Dream Home experience — including the surprise, the reveal and even TV makeup — in his blog, Dave’s Dialysis Diary.

Sangalang is FLORIDA TODAY‘s entertainment reporter and Nerdgirl columnist.

Contact Sangalang at 321-242-3630


Twitter: @byjensangalang

HGTV TV personality Tiffany Brooks “ambushed” the 2016 HGTV Dream Home winner, David Rennie, in March. The dream home is located on Merritt Island, FL. Video provided by HGTV, posted April 18, 2016

via, FLORIDA TODAY4:38 p.m. EDT April 21, 2016

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How Asheville’s big beer deal fell flat

A nasty political fight only punctuated the collapse of any hope for a deal.

But even putting the public political battle aside, Buncombe County from the start had faced a tough opponent in a bid to win a new East Coast outpost of Deschutes Brewery. The expansion would represent one of the county’s biggest economic deals in decades.

At stake was a potential $135 million-$200 million brewing facility and up to 237 jobs, according to figures from the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County and other documents obtained by the Citizen-Times.

To lure the Bend, Oregon, company — the sixth largest U.S. craft brewery — Buncombe and its main competitor, Roanoke, Virginia, were together offering up to $25 million in taxpayer funded incentives. Money was coming from places ranging from the city of Asheville to Virginia special economic funds, according to a comparison compiled by the Citizen-Times.

Then there were the “intangibles,” as Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Todd Haymore called them. Virginia was putting up a united political and public front — and Deschutes’ coveted being a change agent in a community that had not already developed into a beer and tourism mecca.

Those intangibles also included a 246-mile beer run ordered at 7 a.m. by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the discovery that Haymore and Deschutes President Michael LaLonde were fellow “Deadheads.”

The agriculture secretary said a key moment in the one-on-one deal-making happened as a recording of the Grateful Dead played over the speakers in the governor’s mansion in Richmond.

It isn’t that officials in Buncombe County didn’t try. Efforts included a visit to the brewery’s headquarters and hosting seven visits by Deschutes representatives in North Carolina.

In one of those, brewery officials were flown in a state helicopter and invited by Gov. Pat McCrory to the Governor’s Western Residence in Asheville.

To get a better understanding of what exactly happened in efforts to win a deal — and whether politics doomed efforts — the Citizen-Times interviewed more than a dozen officials and looked at more than 50 emails, letters, contracts and other documents obtained by public records requests in North Carolina and Virginia.

One group, EDC, declined to supply requested documents, saying the organization did not fall under state public records law, though some of its workings are shown in county documents or in statements and an interview with the organization’s director Ben Teague after the fact.

Deschutes President LaLonde did not respond to an email and phone call asking for an interview. Officials with the state commerce department also did not answer questions in time for the story.

The documents and interviews helped pull back the curtain on the behind-the-scenes world of economic development and showed just what Buncombe County was up against and how hard it had to fight for a deal that in the end proved fruitless.

Bitter loss

Roanoke’s courtship of Deschutes started with a loss.

In 2012, California beer maker Sierra Nevada picked Mills River in Henderson County over the southwestern Virginia city. Buncombe, too, got passed over. But officials here considered it a win since the brewery was spitting distance from the county line and close enough for Asheville commuters.

Roanoke had also been given a pass by Stone Brewing, which went to Richmond. The city now was nearly obsessed with hooking a big craft brewery.

The beer culture fit well with what the outdoors tourism officials were trying to promote, said that city’s economic development director, Wayne Bowers.
“We’re on the Appalachian Trail. And the Blue Ridge Parkway comes right through town,” Bowers said.

Orders for the Virginia campaign came right from the top, with the state’s highest elected officials beating down the doors of porter and IPA makers around the West.

“Gov. McAuliffe has made one of my priorities as secretary the growth of homegrown craft beer in Virginia,” said agricultural secretary Haymore. “Because you have to have great agricultural products to make these craft beers.”

After the Sierra Nevada loss, with little pause, Roanoke and Virginia officials say they turned their  sights on the Deschutes. Later that same year, they called the company. That was followed by a visit by the Roanoke Regional Partnership and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado, where they met with Deschutes founder Gary Fish.

Got a piece of land?

That kind of early contact would give Roanoke a two-year head start. But Buncombe officials responded quickly.

It’s not clear when competitors got a whiff of each other. But certainly they all knew early on that Deschutes would be looking in different places. In South Carolina, Greenville and Charleston also were in the running. In all, Deschutes would look at more than 100 possible factory sites before announcing a decision one month ago.

Buncombe leaders first heard of the potential for a brewery Feb. 5, 2014, according to Teague.

Austin Consulting said their client was looking to build a $97 million beer-making facility that would employ 70 people. That number would more than double over the course of the competition.

The EDC responded 12 days later with a 45-page proposal highlighting four sites. Those were: the Roberts Farm land south of Asheville on the west side of the French Broad River; Enka Commerce Park; land off Crayton Road in East Asheville; and Black Mountain Commerce Park.

Two top administrators, Asheville Economic Development Director Sam Powers and Buncombe Assistant County Manager Jon Creighton, then signed nondisclosure agreements, details of which are not known.

The site search in Roanoke began in March.

Four months after the February 2014 contact, Deschutes officials were on the ground in Buncombe for their first site visit. Showing up to shake hands were personnel from the city of Asheville, state officials, Duke Power, the Craft Beverage Institute, sewer system managers, the railroad, broadband suppliers and more.

Deschutes said Roberts Farm was the site to pursue. But only three months later, in September, the property was sold to a residential developer.

Two months later in November and one state to the north, McAuliffe brought Deschutes representatives to the governor’s mansion for dinner. It was the first of two events the brewers would attend at the home of that state’s top elected official. Later that month, Roanoke area officials would visit Deschutes at its headquarters.

Still interested

But even after the Roberts Farm sale, Deschutes came back, Teague said “because of strong continued interest of the company in the Asheville market.”

Development officials scrambled. It was a second chance at the type of deal that doesn’t happen often. By February the project scope would increase to a $135 million brewery and 132 jobs.

“There are very few projects across the nation as a whole that are $100 million plus,” Teague said in an interview after the Deschutes deal ended.

In January 2015, the EDC laid out a buffet of possibilities, some old, some new. They were the Crayton Road site, Black Mountain Commerce Park, Enka Commerce Park, the former Beacon Manufacturing site in Swannanoa, “newly listed” Black Mountain property, a Sweeten Creek site and a Bent Creek site.

Deschutes officials made a second site visit to Buncombe on Feb. 11, 2015, Teague said, and focused on two pieces of property: the one at Bent Creek and the tract off Crayton Road.

The company told Roanoke the same month that the Roanoke Centre for Industry and Technology was the best option in Virginia.

‘Beautiful,’ complicated property

Deschutes zeroed in on the Bent Creek property March 10, 2015, requesting a site plan “to demonstrate fit.”

The 137 acres is a “beautiful” piece of property, Buncombe Assistant Manager Creighton said in an interview this month, one of the last large undeveloped chunks of land on that side of the French Broad with views of the river.

Bordering the river on the southwest, the land is next to Interstate 26 and accessible by Ferry Road to the northeast.

But the property, owned by Henderson County, was also complicated and represented a tangled water deal that had resulted in nearly two decades of acrimony between Henderson and Asheville.

Asheville had traded it to Henderson in 1999 as part of a deal to build a Mills River water plant. Its planned use as a Henderson sewage treatment facility, however, turned out to be unworkable, leaving that county feeling short-changed by the swap. While it was owned by Henderson, the land remained part of the city of Asheville, a satellite annexation that didn’t border other parts of the municipality.

Henderson for years had been looking to recoup something from the deal and on March 11, 2015, a day after Deschutes had expressed interest, that county told the EDC they had an interested buyer.

While that party wanted to remain anonymous, it came out in subsequent documents that it was a charter school.

On March 13, 2015, LaLonde told officials that other competitors were out and Asheville was one of two finalists.

“According to their president this morning, we are one of two locations still under consideration,” County Manager Wanda Greene wrote in an email to the seven commissioners. “They would be ‘very disappointed’ if the property were no longer available.”

Greene also said the brewery would be expanded in a second phase to reach a total value of $200 million.

“This is bigger than New Belgium, Linamar or GE,” she said citing some notable county economic deals.

Quick sale

Commissioners held an emergency closed session March 17, 2015, to talk about whether to buy the land at a cost of $6.8 million.
Minutes of that meeting say little about the discussion, but subsequent arguments revealed in emails, interviews and public meetings showed how Democrats and Republicans split over the idea.

Four Democrats on the seven-member Board of Commissioners favored the purchase and said even if Deschutes did not decide to come, there were other good reasons to buy.

Because of legalities in the old water deal, Asheville would be giving Buncombe half the purchase price, money that could then be used toward building a police shooting range in Woodfin. If Deschutes didn’t come, the property could then be sold for a profit.

“If the company goes somewhere else, the county could keep the property that could be sold,” Chairman David Gantt said in an April 7, 2015, meeting. “The county gets money ($3.4 million) toward the public safety facility; the county resolves a decades-old dispute between Henderson and the city of Asheville.”

The board’s three Republicans said they didn’t like using taxpayer money to buy property for an economic deal that was still up in the air.
Commissioner Miranda DeBruhl said it raised the question as to whether the land would be given outright to Deschutes. Democrats and county managers said that was not part of the plan. But if that was true, DeBruhl said, then Deschutes should buy the property itself.

“I don’t agree with real estate speculation being carried out with taxpayer dollars. There are plenty of other areas where $7 million in taxpayer dollars could be spent,” she said in an interview this month. “Is a top priority to spend it in that manner? Or can we spend it in a better way? For schools, for instance, where we know exactly where the money is going and what we get.”

DeBruhl also said Democrats seemed concerned with controlling the property and preventing it from going to a non-industrial use, such as a residential development.

Democratic Vice Chairman Brownie Newman said that was to some extent true since industrial land is scarce in Buncombe.

“I truly did believe that Deschutes would be a better outcome than a subdivision,” Newman said.

Though Democrats held the majority, the argument continued to simmer, culminating in a very public blowup weeks later.

With the November 2016 election looming, political stakes were high. Four of the seven commissioners will be on the ballot, with Newman and DeBruhl competing for the chair’s position.

On March 24, 2015, Teague sent an email to county officials that said “the company is relieved to hear the land is still available… However, the company has expressed extreme concern over confidentiality and specifically media coverage.”

Commissioners made the purchase official with a 4-3 vote in an April 7, 2015, public meeting. Newman called it “one of the most significant” economic deals in several decades. The public, though, still didn’t know what would go on this land, except that it involved an economic development deal that officials referred to as “Project Bravo.”

At about that time, commissioners were also presented by the EDC with non-disclosure agreements, saying those that talked about the deal or details of the company’s operations could face legal repercussions.

The Democrats signed them while all three Republicans declined.

A week later, Creighton and other officials went to Bend to talk to Deschutes personnel.

Ramping up

LaLonde made Deschutes’ interest in Asheville public in April 2015, saying in a Citizen-Times article that the company hoped to open an East Coast operation in 2019.

The next five months would represent a ramping up of behind-the-scenes and out-front recruitment efforts in North Carolina and Virginia. It would also show a frustration by Republicans who said they were tired of waiting for a decision and felt they were given little information.

In that time, Deschutes came to Asheville twice, meeting with Mayor Esther Manheimer and getting a state helicopter tour of the property. McCrory held a lunch for company representatives in the Western Residence on a ridge over downtown.

At that time, incentive possibilities were laid out.

No documents revealed a solid number, but a compilation by the Citizen-Times shows that Asheville and Buncombe combined could have offered $4.4 million-$6 million. Had the property been added that would make it up to $12.8 million.

Republican Commissioner Mike Fryar said giving the property to the company was the intention. In closed session, Democratic Commissioner Ellen Frost indicated that was true, and no one corrected her, Fryar said.

“Her words were we bought that land to draw them here,” he said.

But Frost denied that was the part of the deal.

“No. We don’t do that,” she said in an interview this month. “People never get property for free. There’s always some kind of incentive.”
Some money was also likely offered by the state, but commerce officials didn’t respond to requests for details on that or what McCrory’s involvement was.

In Virginia, incentives from the city, state and other places, would come in at $12 million including land. Deschutes’ offer to that state included less investment and fewer jobs: $85 million and up to 108 positions. But pay was guaranteed to be higher at $44,928. With Asheville, Deschutes said in addition to the manufacturing jobs, there would be 83 hospitality positions with a brewpub and restaurant. With Roanoke there was discussion of opening a brewpub and restaurant, but a specific number of jobs wasn’t given that city’s economic development director said.

In May, that state’s agriculture secretary made an unannounced and quiet visit to Bend, not to meet with Deschutes, but to talk to residents about their opinions of the company.

 The Virginia governor would come out himself in September to meet with the company. Deschutes, meanwhile, sent representatives to Roanoke three times from May-September, according to the Roanoke Times.


In late September, DeBruhl and the three Republicans asked that a motion to sell the Bent Creek land be put on the commissioners meeting agenda.

That was done “over pleas from (Buncombe’s) negotiating team,” Gantt said, for fear it could harm Asheville’s chances.
DeBruhl, meanwhile, took the fight to social media, tweeting at LaLonde on Oct. 5, asking if he would talk. She also emailed and called the brewery president.

LaLonde contacted DeBruhl shortly before the Oct. 6 commissioners meeting, leading her, she said, to pull the motion to sell the property.
LaLonde also sent an email to Greene just before the meeting in which he talked about his and DeBruhl’s conversation.

“She expressed concern that we have not yet made a decision,” the Deschutes president wrote. “I told her that our company continues to be very interested in that site but we are in the process of performing the final due diligence.”

DeBruhl later tweeted that she “got more done in 7 minutes this AM than was done in the last 7 months on not so ‘secret’ Ferry Rd. project.”
She also used her Twitter account to say she “confirmed this morning there was no company interested in closing a deal on Ferry Rd. property” when the county bought it. She added the hashtag “Fairytale.”

That interaction became the subject of a heated fight both before and after Deschutes made the decision. Critics said DeBruhl’s move was unorthodox and it was wrong for a single elected official to go around the entire board and county staff when negotiators were involved in a delicate deal.

Hurt the deal?

In a Nov. 20, 2015, email to the county manager, Teague wrote, “I fear the unexpected public discussion to sell the Bent Creek site in October, and subsequent social media comments by officials denigrating the company stood in contrast to the universal and orchestrated outpouring of support of our competition.”

About the same time as the October dustup in Buncombe, a Roanoke resident started a social media campaign “Deschutes2Roanoke” on Twitter and Facebook.

DeBruhl, though, pointed to media reports in which LaLonde would say the decision was based primarily on Deschutes desire to be in a place where the company could “make a difference.”

Newman said he thought Deschutes was just being polite.

“Having political leaders go on social media and call this company’s interest in our community a ‘fairy tale,’” had to do damage, the vice chairman said.

Closing the deal

LaLonde made the seventh and final Deschutes visit to Asheville on Oct. 23. There were no official meetings this time. Instead, he met with with local business leaders with whom he had made connections. Afterward Teague said he got calls from the locals that seemed to say Asheville might win after all.

“They were excited and confident about our opportunity to win the project” the EDC director said.

But less than a month later, on Nov. 5, the EDC got a phone call from Deschutes’ consultants saying they were focusing on Roanoke.
Local officials, though, said they didn’t give up hope, since there had been instances where a company had circled back. Creighton pointed to GF Linamar, a light-weight vehicle components maker, which just announced it would open a plant in Mills River.

“They said they were going to Georgia, but then they popped back up,” the assistant county manager said.

Virginia was doing its best to make sure that didn’t happen.

McAuliffe had invited LaLonde to the governor’s mansion for a Dec. 16 dinner and he wanted to wow him.

The governor had told his top staff “to bring our A game,” because he wanted to close the deal that night, Haymore said. That meant all details would be available and the agriculture secretary would talk about the increased hops and malt production they had helped create in the state.
That morning, Haymore said the phone rang at 7 a.m. and it was the governor.

“He said to me, ‘Todd, I want a keg of Deschutes beer in the mansion tonight.’”

Haymore knew that wasn’t likely since the beer was hardly sold anywhere in Virginia. But McAuliffe told him not to come back to work if he didn’t get the keg, and Haymore wasn’t sure the governor was joking.

He spent the rest of day on the phone calling old acquaintances in high places and striking out until he learned of a keg of Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale in northern Virginia in a town called Sterling, 123 miles from Richmond. He was preparing for the drive when he realized a staff member was in Washington, D.C. and could bring it back.

The next item to be settled on was the music. Staff had learned that LaLonde was a Grateful Dead fan and they knew Haymore was one too, largely because he’d been constantly playing an expansive anniversary release by the band “30 Trips around the Sun” in his office.
Haymore set up the box set and let LaLonde that night pick the disc he wanted to play.

It was in the middle of one of the Dead’s most well-known tunes “Franklin’s Tower” that McAuliffe got the handshake from LaLonde that he wanted, Haymore said.

“The governor would have played elevator music – or electronic dance music if that’s what it would have taken,” he said.

Worth it?

With all the energy and money spent on bringing Deschutes to town, some questioned whether the effort was worth it.

Republican Commissioner Joe Belcher later would say that his problem with the arrangement was bigger than the land purchase.
Belcher said he was opposed to alcohol in general due to “a deep personal and religious conviction.”

But the retired manufactured home industry vice president also said he thought breweries wouldn’t provide the best returns. Instead the county should look to “advanced manufacturing,” he said.

One metric, he said, was jobs per acre, and Deschutes deal would mean about one position per acre, he pointed out.

“As someone that has analyzed markets for 30 years as part of my job, I believe that the industry, the craft beer industry in this area is not sustainable. You can reach a point of diminishing returns in any industry.”

Fellow Republican Fryar, said he would have been happy for the brewery to come, but he doubted whether Asheville was ever really in the running.

“They didn’t need 137 acres. They have a place on 45 acres in Roanoke,” the commissioner said. “They did everything in the world to get to Roanoke.”

Frost said it would still have been better to have a guaranteed investment and job provider such as Deschutes.

“That’s better than pie in the sky,” the Democrat said.

As for Roanoke, where state and local taxpayers are set to give $12 million over several years in exchange for a factory that will generate $1.5 million in property taxes and 70 jobs, according to their contract but up to 108 by Deschutes projection, officials were exuberant.

“For one thing,” said economic development director Bowers, “It’s building a facility on a piece of property that is generating zero taxes for us now.”

Reporter Mike Cronin contributed to this story.


To tell the story of how Buncombe County lost in its bid to win an East Coast expansion of Deschutes Brewery, the Citizen-Times interviewed key players in North Carolina and Virginia while piecing together details found in more than 50 documents obtained through public records requests. Those include emails, letters and contracts from Buncombe County government officials. The Economic Development Coalition for Asheville- Buncombe County declined to release its emails and correspondences related to the effort. The coalition is overseen by a publicly appointed board and relies in part on government funding. The Citizen-Times based its requests on those facts. The newspaper’s requests were made after the end of negotiations and the announcement that Deschutes would build in Roanoke.

Tobias Weas, an attorney who is the EDC vice president of public policy, membership and legal affairs, said the EDC is a department of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, which is not a public agency. The Citizen-Times is continuing efforts to obtain the documents in the interest of bringing transparency to a process that involves the performance of public officials and the potential for spending millions of dollars in public funding.
Different offers: $12M vs. $4M-$13M
Roanoke and Virginia offer: $11.6 million – $11.9 million; Buncombe County and Asheville offer: $4.4 million – $12.8 million.
Deschutes promised less investment to Roanoke and also fewer jobs, but offered higher wages to the Virginia city.
Buncombe County/Asheville offer: 

•    $1,954,000 paid out over five years ($390,800 annually)
•    County purchased $6.8 million property for potential Deschutes facility. Several Buncombe officials said the company would have leased, bought or made some other exchange for the land. At least one commissioner, though, said there was talk of giving the land to Deschutes.
•    An Asheville incentives formula shows a payout ranging from $2.4 million over five years up to $4 million over seven years

Deschutes offer: 
•    $135 million – $200 million investment (Would generate $1.5 million in annual taxes — $815,400 in county taxes and $641,250 in Asheville taxes)
•    132-154 jobs added in seven years. For at least 132, average salaries projected to “well exceed” $36,486, plus insurance and an employee stock ownership plan
•    83 jobs in restaurant and brew pub with annual wages from $24,000 to $80,000.

Roanoke/ Economic Development Authority of Roanoke/ Virginia offer:
•    Land worth $2.75 million with $3.05 million  in road and utilities work ($650,000 may be paid by state. Also applying for a federal economic development grant of $1.5 million.) and a $1 million greenway extension
•    $140,000 from an Enterprise Zone rebate program
•    $200,000 given up front with a clawback if goals not met.
•    $25,000 enterprise employment grant paid if Deschutes hires and keeps Roanoke residents for a year.
•    Estimated $1.4 million performance agreement rebate on 50 percent of machine and tool taxes for four years.
•    $40,000 in other improvements, including power line changes and street signs
•    From Virginia, $3 million (Grant that passed through Roanoke and the EDA)
•    Another possible state grant of $250,000

Deschutes offer: 
•    $55 million – $95 million investment (Would generate $1.5 million in taxes in 2021, stepping down over four years. By 2025 it would be $841,305.)
•    70-108 jobs by 2021 paying average of $44,928
•    Anticipated additional 46 jobs by 2025 with no pay guarantee


 January 2012 – Mills River beats out Roanoke, Virginia, as site for Sierra Nevada’s east coast brewery.

October, 2012 – Roanoke area and Virginia economic development officials meet with Deschutes founder and president in Colorado, according to Roanoke Times.
February 2014 – Asheville area economic development officials learn of brewery’s interest in a local facility, according to Ben Teague, director of Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County. Project scope: $97 million investment and 70 manufacturing jobs. Respond with 45-page proposal highlighting four sites Crayton Road, Black Mountain Commerce Park, Roberts Farm.
June 4, 2014 – Deschutes representatives make first of seven site visits to Buncombe County. 
November 2014 – Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe hosts Deschutes officials at governor’s mansion in Richmond. Later that month, Roanoke area officials visit Deschutes headquarters in Bend, Oregon.
January 2015 – Deschutes makes contact again with EDC because of “strong interest” in Asheville market, Teague says. EDC offers more sites: Crayton Road, Black Mountain Commerce Park, Enka Commerce Park, former Beacon Mills site,”newly listed” Black Mountain property, Sweeten Creek site and Bent Creek site.
Feb. 11, 2015 – Second Deschutes visit to Buncombe. Looking at two sites: Crayton Road and Bent Creek. Project has grown to $135 million and 132 jobs.
March 10, 2015 – Deschutes representatives ask for a site plan demonstrating “fit” on Bent Creek site.
March 11, 2015 – Henderson County, owner of the Bent Creek property, say they have an interested buyer. Property may be off market.
March 13, 2015 – Deschutes says Asheville is one of two finalists. Encourages officials to hold site, if possible. Potential investment rises to $200 million.
March 17, 2015 – Buncombe commissioners hold emergency closed session. Commissioners are split along party lines with a consensus among Democratic majority to work on $6.8 million land purchase.
March 25, 2015 – Third site visit by Deschutes representatives to Buncombe County.
April 7, 2015 – Buncombe commissioners make official vote to buy Bent Creek property, 4-3, along party lines. Commissioners asked by company to sign nondisclosure agreements. Three Republicans decline.
April 15, 2015 – Buncombe officials go to Portland and Bend to meet with Deschutes officials.
May 31-June 1, 2015 – Fourth Buncombe site visit. Deschutes officials get state helicopter tour of Bent Creek property. Gov. Pat McCrory holds luncheon for officials at Western Residence. 
July 2, 2015 – Deschutes makes fifth site visit. Mayor Esther Manheimer and Councilwoman Gwen Wisler meet with Deschutes founder Gary Fish.
Sept. 14, 2015 – McAuliffe visits with Deschutes officials in Bend.
Late September, 2015 – Republicans propose that Bent Creek property be sold. That happens “over pleas from negotiating team,” Gantt says.
Oct. 6, 2015 – Republican Commissioner Miranda DeBruhl calls and sends out tweet to Deschutes President Michael LaLonde. LaLonde sends email to County Manager Wanda Greene. DeBruhl says she gets call from LaLonde about company’s interest. She pulls land sale from agenda.
Oct. 16, 2015 – Deschutes increases project scope to 154 brewery jobs, plus 83 hospitality jobs.
Oct. 23, 2015 – Seventh visit. LaLonde meets with Buncombe business leaders.
November 2015 – Deschutes officials tell EDC they will pursue Roanoke site. Company doing due diligence on property and other matters. Teague sends commissioners email saying he fears discussion of sale and social media comments “denigrating” the company “stood in contrast” to Roanoke’s support.
Dec. 16, 2015 – McAuliffe holds second event at mansion complete with Deschutes beer and Grateful Dead soundtrack. Looks to close deal, Haymore says. Shakes McAuliffe’s hand.
March 22, 2016 – Deschutes officially announces choice of Roanoke.
April 5, 2016 – Public blow up at commissioners meeting with blame and accusations about the deal. Commissioners vote 7-0 to .

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Asheville area Home & Garden Calendar for early spring


ANNUAL PLANT SALE: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. April 23, Clem’s Cabin, 1000 Hendersonville Road, Asheville. Sponsored by the French Broad River Garden Club Foundation. Ground covers and more from 20 local vendors. Proceeds support scholarships and other projects. To learn more, contact Jasmin Gentling at or Jan Cantrell at

BAMBOO WALKING TOURS: 1:30-3 p.m. on the second and fourth Sundays through November at Haiku Bamboo Nursery/Farm, 468 Rhodes Mountain Road, Hendersonville. Gates open at 1 p.m. The next walk is April 24. Learn about bamboo plants, characteristics and environment. Wear walking shoes, no sandals. Cameras permitted. Adults $25, seniors $23, ages 13-18, $15, free for younger. To arrange a tour or to learn more, call 828-685-3053. Visit or find the nursery on Facebook.

DAYS IN THE GARDEN: SPRING PLANT SALE: noon-6 p.m. April 29 and 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. April 30, Botanical Gardens of Asheville, 151 W.T. Weaver Blvd. Annual event by Men’s Garden Club of Asheville. Proceeds benefit scholarships, beautification and other programs, as well as the botanical gardens. Bedding plants, hanging baskets and more. Details at

SPRING PLANT SALE: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 29 and 30, Bullington Gardens, 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville. A great selection of perennials, vegetable starts, herbs, small trees and shrubs and some unusual annuals.

LAKE JUNALUSKA NATIVE PLANT SALE: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. April 30, Corneille Bryan Native Garden, County Road and J.B. Ivey Lane, Lake Junaluska. To learn more, call 828-778-5938.

MONTREAT NATIVE PLANT SALE: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. April 30, sponsored by Montreat Landcare, Moore Center Field and Classrooms, Assembly Drive at Lookout Road, Montreat. Free trees and lots of free advice, vendors and workshops, plus a food truck and music.

PLANT SALE: noon-4 p.m. May 1, Haywood Street Congregation, 297 Haywood St., Asheville. Buy plants, meet Debra Roberts of Holy Bee Press, pet the animals and take tea in the Fish and Loaves Bountiful Garden. Free. To learn more, call 828-246-4250 or visit

HANGER HALL SPRING PLANT SALE: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. April 30 and May 7, Hanger Hall School for Girls, 64 W.T. Weaver Boulevard, near UNCA. Perennials, annuals, ornamental grasses, herbs, hanging baskets and more.

ROSE PLANT SALE: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. May 14, parking lot of American Red Cross, 100 Edgewood Road, Asheville. Organized by the Asheville Blue Ridge Rose Society. Rose plants and experts on hand to answer all questions. While visiting, see the society’s “no spray” rose garden on site.

WNC DESIGN GUIDE SHOW: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday, through May 14, The Studios at Flat Rock, 2702A Greenville Highway in Flat Rock. Meet many of the Studio’s artists to learn about the process of buying art for your home as an interactive collaboration between artist and patron. To learn more, visit or call 828-698-7000.

ROSE EXHIBITION: May 28-29, NC Arboretum, Asheville. Organized by the Asheville Blue Ridge Rose Society. Educational programs and hundreds of rose blooms.

HAYWOOD COUNTY GARDEN TOUR: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. June 18, “Pollinate, Propagate, Cultivate,” presented by NC Cooperative Extension Foundation, Haywood County Extension Center and Haywood County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers. Tickets $15, on sale May 7 at the Whole Bloomin’ Thing in Frog Level, call 828-456-3575 or $20 the day of the tour.


INVASIVE PLANTS: BULLIES: 11:30- 1p.m. April 21, Buncombe County Extension Office, 49 Mount Carmel Road, Asheville, part of the Gardening in the Mountains Lecture Series. Master gardeners Barb Harrison and Gary Merrill discuss how to recognize and identify the most common invasives and how to reduce their spread. Free, but preregister by calling 828-255-5522. Visit

USING PERENNIALS IN THE LANDSCAPE: 2-3:30 p.m. April 26, Bullington Gardens, 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville. Crissy Dzielak of Landmark Landscapes will highlight great perennials for WNC. $12. Register at or 828-698-6104.


OPEN DAILY: Retail shops open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. every day, Brevard Road at Interstate 40. Available now: Pots, bedding plants, native plants, flowers, seed potatoes, onion sets, ramps, creasy greens, strawberries and more. In the shops find root vegetables, greens, tomatoes, canned goods, local cheese, fresh eggs, honey, homemade ice cream and fudge, handcrafted gifts and more.

Upcoming events include:

Growing in the Mountains, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 22-23. Native plants, nursery material, bedding plants and more for home gardens.

27th annual Herb Show, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 29-30 and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. May 1. Herbs, trees, native plants, bedding plants, decorations and more.


MASTER GARDENERS’ SCHOOL GARDEN GRANT PROGRAM: Deadline for schools to apply is May 2. Selected schools receive a grant and support of master gardeners to create and maintain a school garden. Learn more and apply online or call 828-255-5522.

EXTENSION OFFICE HAS MOVED: The Buncombe County Extension Office has moved to 49 Mount Carmel Road in Erwin Hills. The phone number remains the same, 828-255-5522. For help anytime, visit

LEICESTER GARDEN CLUB: Meets at 1 p.m. fourth Tuesday of the month at the Leicester Library. To learn more, call Crystal Dover at 828-259-9649.

WEAVERVILLE GARDEN CLUB: Meets at 9:30 a.m. second Tuesday of every month September through June in the Community Room at the Weaverville Town Hall on Main Street. To learn more, call 828-658-1154.

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Asheville rents most expensive in NC – and still climbing

arolina, according to the San Francisco-based company Apartment List.

The median rent for a two-bedroom unit in Asheville has reached $1,180 a month, the highest in the state for that size among a set of 10 large North Carolina cities selected by Apartment List, said Andrew Woo, a company data scientist.

Asheville overtook Charlotte in January to top the state’s costliest rent list, Woo said.

Asheville's median rent for a two-bedroom apartment

Asheville’s median rent for a two-bedroom apartment is the most expensive in North Carolina. (Photo: Apartment List)

Charlotte and Durham are second and third with respective median rents of $1,140 and $1,100 for a two-bedroom unit.

The cost of renting in Asheville is something that can catch new residents by surprise.

“We tell them that they have to have a job or significant savings,” said Kimberly Evans, broker in charge at Alpha Real Estate in Asheville. “If they don’t, we recommend that they delay their plans” until they do one of the two.”

Alpha Real Estate’s inventory consists of about 200 apartments and houses for rent, Evans said.

An average offering would be a three-bedroom, one-bath unit with a rent of $1,200 a month, she said.

Though that’s hundreds of dollars less than the state median of $930 per month reported by Apartment List at the end of March, the bad news is Alpha Real Estate’s properties aren’t available too often.

“We’ve run at about a 99 percent occupancy rate for the last three years,” Evans said.

Bowen National Research, an Ohio-based real estate market consulting firm, researched rental apartment vacancy rates in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties during fall 2014.

The study Bowen published in January 2015 found a 1 percent vacancy rate.

Bowen researchers also found zero vacancies among 3,730 surveyed affordable rentals units, those being homes and apartments supported by tax credits and government subsidies.

Asheville city officials paid Bowen $29,750 to assess the region’s future housing needs.

Evans said Alpha’s properties frequently don’t even make it to a public listing.

“It’s common for people moving out to refer us to a friend who wants to move in,” she said.

National rental-rate price increases far outpaced North Carolina as a whole during the period surveyed in the report, 2.7 percent to 0.7 percent, Apartment List found.

But that’s no consolation for Asheville tenants and prospective tenants.

Rents rise annually 3-4 percent for the 250- 300 rental units in Asheville and Hendersonville owned and managed by Asheville-based Leslie and Associates Inc., said Tom Leslie, the owner.

“We’re fortunate because we don’t have the new high-end units,” such as those with granite counter tops, Leslie said.

He said he determines rents based on market research relevant to that unit, then advertises for that market.

A two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit for $895 outside downtown would be a “sweet-spot” unit that Leslie and Associates would advertise, he said.

Though prices depend on location, Leslie added.

A two-bedroom apartment on Albermarle Road, off Charlotte Street, north of downtown, goes for $1,075 per month, according to the company website.

While a three-bedroom house near the Country Club of Asheville is available for $2,550 per month, Leslie said.
“We don’t hear complaints about our prices because people who call us find a place they like on our website that’s affordable to them,” he said.

Still, Alpha Real Estate’s Evans foresees the rental market becoming tougher during the coming years.

“The trend is rents are going higher and higher,” Evans said. “All indicators are that the rental market (for landlords) will become stronger for the next 10 years.”

A September study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University agreed. It described the conditions confronting renters during the coming decade as “bleak.”

North Carolina rents grew 2 percent slower than U.S.

North Carolina rents grew 2 percent slower than U.S. rents from March 2015 to March 2016. (Photo: Apartment List)

“Under nearly all of the scenarios performed, we found that the renter affordability crisis will continue to worsen without intervention,” the authors concluded. “Even if the economy continues its slow recovery and income growth improves, there are simply not enough quality, affordable rental units to house the millions of households paying over half their income in rental costs.”

Despite that, Evans said she’s found that many people remain reluctant to buy a home.

She said that according to her data, more than a third of American renters want to remain renters.

“Young people don’t have the same faith in the economy anymore, and they are more transient,” Evans said. “They see the benefits of renting.”

But that outlook assumes tenants will be able to find a place at the outset.

Because of the realities of the Asheville regional market, that is far from a guarantee.

The local situation is so dire that public- and private-sector officials regularly refer to the Asheville affordable-housing environment as “a crisis.”

Strategies to tackle the problem have included providing incentives for developers to build more housing units along public transit lines; property-tax exemptions and reductions in permitting fees for developers depending on how many affordable units they construct; increasing the number of housing units allowed to be built per acre; and an exploration begun in August by the private sector to determine what role local business may play in providing solutions.

But even if all policies planned by Asheville public officials to alleviate the housing shortage occur, those strategies would yield just 2,800 new units by 2022. That’s one-half the 5,600 units Bowen report authors concluded the city needed more than a year ago.

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Foreclosure rates in Asheville decrease

CoreLogic data reveals that the rate of Asheville area foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans was 0.54 percent for January 2016, a decrease of 0.16 percentage points compared with January 2015 when the rate was 0.70 percent. Foreclosure activity in Asheville was lower than the national foreclosure rate, which was 1.15 percent for January 2016.

Also in Asheville, the mortgage delinquency rate decreased. According to CoreLogic data for January 2016, 1.97 percent of mortgage loans were 90 days or more delinquent compared with 2.50 percent for the same period last year, representing a decrease of 0.53 percentage points.

Source: CoreLogic
Source: CoreLogic
Source: CoreLogic

Data Notes and Definitions:
90+ Day Delinquency Rate: This measures the percentage of loans that are more than 90 days delinquent, including those in foreclosure and REO (real estate owned).

Foreclosure Rate: This measures the percentage of loans in some stage of the foreclosure process. A foreclosure is defined by the legal process by which an owner’s right to a property is terminated, usually due to default. This does not represent the number of new foreclosure filings as provided by other data companies, but rather the current stock, or inventory, of loans in the foreclosure process which offers a comprehensive view of foreclosure trends. CoreLogic has approximately 85 percent coverage of foreclosure data.

About CoreLogic:
CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX) is a leading global property information, analytics and data-enabled services provider. The company’s combined data from public, contributory and proprietary sources includes over 4.5 billion records spanning more than 50 years, providing detailed coverage of property, mortgages and other encumbrances, consumer credit, tenancy, location, hazard risk and related performance information. The markets CoreLogic serves include real estate and mortgage finance, insurance, capital markets, and the public sector. CoreLogic delivers value to clients through unique data, analytics, workflow technology, advisory and managed services. Clients rely on CoreLogic to help identify and manage growth opportunities, improve performance and mitigate risk. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., CoreLogic operates in North America, Western Europe and Asia Pacific. For more information, please visit


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