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Asheville-area home & garden events for early Sept.

ANNUAL FALL PLANT AND RUMMAGE SALE: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 12, rain or shine, Botanical Gardens at Asheville, 151 W.T. Weaver Boulevard. Native plants, shrubs and trees from the gardens and from over a dozen regional nurseries and local garden clubs. Free admission and parking.

WEST ASHEVILLE GARDEN STROLL: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 12, rain or shine, opening ceremony at 10:30 a.m. at the West Asheville Library, 942 Haywood Road. Visit 18 gardens, all walkable, on the theme “Cycles”; guides available at the library all day. Free and open to the public. Details soon at

CAROLINAS DAHLIA SOCIETY ANNUAL SHOW: 1-5 p.m. Sept. 12 and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 13, NC Arboretum, 100 Frederick Olmsted Law Way, Asheville. More than 800 blooms to be shown, plus classes, flowers for sale. Free admission with paid Arboretum parking. Visit

GROVE PARK/SUNSET MOUNTAIN TOUR OF HOMES: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 13. Tickets on sale Aug. 14. A fundraiser to help the neighborhood association renovate and maintain E.W. Grove Park, the Griffing Boulevard Rose Gardens and Sunset Parkway. To learn more, visit

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. The next walk is Sept. 13. 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

CIDERFEST: 1-5 p.m. Nov. 7, WNC Farmers Market, 570 Brevard Road, Asheville. Tickets $30, on sale at Designated driver, $15; children free. Proceeds benefit WNC Green Building Council. Hard cider, food pairings, arts & crafts, live music, children’s activities.


MEN’S GARDEN CLUB OF ASHEVILLE: Noon, Sept. 1, First Baptist Church of Asheville dining room, 5 Oak St. Alison Arnold, agent with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, will present, “Do You Know Your Invasive Plants?” Arnold also spent 16 years with the NC Arboretum, where she was director of horticulture. Her presentation (at about 12:45 p.m.) is free, but lunch is $11. RSVP to Dick Powell at [email protected].

ASHEVILLE GARDEN CLUB: 9:30 a.m. Sept. 2, N. Asheville Community Center, 37 E. Larchmont Road. June Jolley of the NC Arboretum will present “An Introduction to Protocols for Long-Term Seed Saving.” Program starts at 10 a.m. To learn more, call Pat Naffin at 828-550-3459.

HYPERTUFA LEAF CASTING: 10 a.m.-noon Aug. 27, Bullington Gardens, 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville. Create a natural looking hypertufa casting of a large leaf. $50, including all materials. To register, contact [email protected] or 828-698-6104.

MUSHROOM GROWING WORKSHOP: 2:30-4 p.m. Sept. 2, Bullington Gardens, 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville. Make your own mushroom log and learn about cultivating mushrooms at home. $60, including all materials. To register, contact [email protected] or 828-698-6104.

FALL PLANT SALE: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 11 and 12. Bullington Gardens, 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville. Seasonal perennials, mums, pansies, trees and shrubs and the “garden shed” with used tools, books and other garden-related items.

DAHLIA DAZE AT BULLINGTON GARDENS: Sept. 22-25 at 95 Upper Red Oak Trail, Hendersonville. Tours of the dahlia garden at 1 and 2 p.m. Sept. 22, 23 and 25. Demonstration of Ikebana using dahlias, 3 p.m. Sept. 24. Free, but registration is necessary to [email protected] or 828-698-6104.


OPEN DAILY: Retail shops open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. every day, Brevard Road at Interstate 40. Fresh produce — including peaches, pears, cabbage, corn, peppers, eggplant, fall squash, sweet and white potatoes, muscadine grapes and more — as well as jams, jellies, local honey, cheese, wine and crafts. Learn more at Upcoming events include:

Ciderfest, 1-5 p.m. Nov. 7. Tickets $30, on sale at Designated driver, $15; children free. Benefit for WNC Green Building Council. Hard cider, food pairings, arts & crafts, live music, children’s activities.


For even more markets, visit

Asheville City Market: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, 161 S. Charlotte St. 10 a.m.-noon.

Asheville City Market South: noon-4 p.m. Wednesdays, 2 Town Square Blvd., Biltmore Park Town Square.

Black Mountain Tailgate Market: 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays, behind the First Baptist Church in Black Mountain at 130 Montreat Road.

East Asheville Tailgate Market: 3-6 p.m. Fridays, 954 Tunnel Road, Groce UMC upper parking lot.

French Broad Food Co-op Market: 2-6 p.m. Wednesdays, 76 Biltmore Ave., in the parking lot next to the French Broad Food Co-op.

Leicester Farmers Market: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays, Leicester Landing Shopping Center, 338 Leicester Road, behind Zaxby’s. www.leices­

North Asheville Tailgate Market: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays. UNC Asheville Campus Commuter Lot C. Take Weaver Boulevard to campus entrance at traffic circle; first parking lot on right.

Oakley Farmers Market: 3:30-6:30 p.m. Thursdays, 607 Fairview Road, behind Oakley UMC.

River Arts District Farmers Market: 2-6 p.m. Wednesdays, 175 Clingman Ave., in the field next to All Souls Pizza.

Weaverville Tailgate Market: 2:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays. On the hill overlooking Lake Louise behind the Community Center on Weaverville Highway.

West Asheville Tailgate Market: 2:30-6 p.m. Tuesdays, 718 Haywood Road.


Bakersville Farmers Market: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, 101 Hemlock Drive, Bakersville.

Flat Rock Tailgate Market: 3-6 p.m. Thursdays, 2720 Greenville Highway, Flat Rock.

Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market: 8 a.m.-noon Wednesdays & Saturdays at the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre parking lot, 250 Pigeon St., Waynesville.

Henderson County Tailgate Market: 7 a.m.-noon, 100 N. King St., Hendersonville.

Jackson County Farmers Market: 9 a.m.-noon. Saturdays, municipal parking lot next to Bridge Park, along Railroad Avenue, Sylva.

Madison County Farmers & Artisans Market: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, corner of Park and Physical Plant drives, Mars Hill.

Historic Marion Tailgate Market: 3-6 p.m. Tuesdays, 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays, West Henderson and Logan streets, Marion.

Mills River Farmers Market: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, 5046 Boylston Highway, Mills River.

Spruce Pine Farmers Market: 2-5 p.m. Wednesdays, 297 Oak Ave., Spruce Pine.

Transylvania Tailgate Market: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays, 190 E. Main St., Brevard.

Original Waynesville Tailgate Market: 8 a.m.-noon Wednesdays and Saturdays, 171 Legion Drive, Waynesville.

Yancey County Farmers Market: 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturdays, South Main Street, Burnsville.


GRANT APPLICATIONS: Deadline Oct. 1 for Haywood County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association educational or research grants for 2016. Projects must be in Haywood County, and related to gardening, horticulture or the environment (not for beautification). Call 828-456-3575.

MASTER GARDENER CLASSES: Haywood County Extension is accepting applications for 2016 training sessions, one morning a week, January-April. Participants agree to volunteer at least 40 hours during the following year. Attend free info seminars at 2 p.m. Oct. 8, Waynesville Library, or 5 p.m. Oct. 14, Canton Library. To learn more, call 828-456-3575.

LEICESTER GARDEN CLUB: Meets at 1 p.m. fourth Tuesday of the month at the Leicester Library. To learn more, contact 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.

GROW YOUR OWN FOOD: Hunter Community Garden on Johnson Farm Road in Haywood County has 12-by-50-foot lots and provides irrigation and many tools. $35. To learn more or sign up, contact Sarah Scott at the Haywood Extension Center, 828-456-3575.

COMPOSTING DEMONSTRATION: Learn how to compost, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, April-October, near Jesse Israel’s Garden Center, WNC Farmers Market, 570 Brevard Road. Free. Tips, instructions, Q&A, samples, demos and composters on display. Ask a Gardener information table also available for more general questions. To learn more, or call 828-255-5522.

MASTER GARDENERS’ FREE ASSISTANCE: Helpline open 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Fridays. Call 828-255-5522 or visit the Buncombe County Extension Office, 94 Coxe Ave., Asheville. Free soil sample test kits also available. For help anytime, visit, purchase “A Gardening Guide for Our Mountains,” available online or at the Extension office and subscribe to the free monthly newsletter for home lawn and garden enthusiasts — call 828-255-5522 or send an email with “Subscribe to Mountain Gardener” in subject line to [email protected].

RAIN BARRELS: Buncombe County Cooperative Extension has 80-gallon rain barrels available for $110 plus tax at 94 Coxe Ave., Asheville. Call 828-255-5522 for availability.


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Take a ‘Tour de Cliffs’ with George Hincapie

If you weren’t able to make it to Paris this summer for the Tour de France, you can get a sample of that event’s majesty (at a king’s ransom price) at the Tour de Cliffs this fall with Tour de France legend George Hincapie, a Greenville, South Carolina, resident.

The Oct. 11-16 ride is six days and five nights open to just 20 riders, featuring a stay at Hincapie’s luxury Hotel Domestique here, and guided by Richard Dunn, former U.S. National Cycling Team member and Hendersonville resident, who is the cycling coach for all seven of The Cliffs communities.

Charner Creecy, senior communications manager for The Cliffs, said the inaugural ride came about as the brainchild of Hincapie, Dunn, and Matt Ort, The Cliffs’ director of health, fitness and recreation.

“George has always been very fond of the area and opened his hotel here because he said the riding reminded him of the roads on the Tour de France,” Creecy said. “At first we thought it would be a closed member event (as the Cliffs has had in the past), but then they thought it would be a wonderful way to create awareness for the market of cyclists in the area.

In true luxury style, the nearly $5,500 per person price tag includes all accommodations, transport of luggage and bikes, wine dinners, leisure time, cocktail receptions, and a sunset dinner cruise on the Life’s Too Good Boat on Lake Keowee. The ride also will hit the mountains of WNC and Upstate and lake regions of South Carolina right about the peak of what is forecast to be a spectacular fall color season.

The intimate group will spend the first night at the “cyclist-friendly” Hotel Domestique, which is nestled in mountains nearby Highway 25 and Highway 11. On Day 2, Hincapie will join the riders on the first leg of the trip, about a 49-mile ride to Asheville’s The Cliffs of Walnut Cove. The second night, the group will stay at the equally luxurious Grove Park Inn in North Asheville, then ride down to Lake Keowee and stay at the Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards rental homes for Days 3 and 4.

While Hincapie will bow out after the first day, Dunn will lead the group for the entire trip. Day 4 will be a “leisure day,” Creecy said, where riders can enjoy the lake, kayak, hike, play golf or have a spa day. On Day 5, the riders will head to the Cliffs at Mountain Park on Highway 11 and spend the last night at Hotel Domestique again.

The trip will cover 150 miles, but Creecy said it is open to all levels of riders. There will be a SAG (support and gear) van following the riders, and a shuttle back to the hotel for those who feel they can’t complete the day’s ride. The first day from Travelers Rest to Asheville has the most climbing — 4,045 feet of elevation gain.

“It’s a whole experience between wine, food, cycling. From what we’ve compared it to, it’s a pretty solid rate, especially with the luxury accommodations,” Creecy said.

“We are marketing the ride to all levels, but it’s a challenging ride like in the Tour de France, where they open up a stage ride the day before the race happens for people to experience. It’s for riders who enjoy that kind of riding, as well as fine food and wine and that luxury atmosphere,” said Dunn, a four-time member of the U.S. National Cycling team who has raced and coached around the world.

“It’s also great for couples — for one who would like to ride and one who would want to do other activities while the spouse is riding. Cycling is a big component now of wellness, and The Cliffs is dedicated to providing things like this for their members.”

Dunn said The Cliffs has had private, member-only, one-day rides with Hincapie in the past, but the cyclist is so well-known — he competed 17 times in the Tour de France, the most prestigious bicycling race in the world, and held the yellow jersey on several occasions — that more people have requested a ride with him

“A lot of people are really big fans of George. I’ve known him for over 20 years. He’s always very friendly, approachable, and people like that about an athlete,” Dunn said. “To be able to ride side by side with an athlete of his caliber, and get some pointers, it’s really very special.”

Want to ride with George Hincapie?

For more information on the inaugural Tour de Cliffs, call 864-516-1684, email [email protected] or visit

via  Karen Chavez, [email protected]2:14 p.m. EDT August 25, 2015

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Out-of-the-box brunches in Asheville

Try these out-of-the-box brunches in Asheville

When it comes to brunch, haters are always going to hate. Brunch, says this New York Times writer, is for jerks. It’s an overpriced, overdone meal for people with bad attitudes and even worse hangovers, he continues, and an opportunity for chefs to bury the dregs of the weekend’s leftovers in overly rich sauces.

We say not so — but you have to know where to look.

Here, a smattering (a smothering and covering?) of brunch places with out-of-the-ordinary menus and/or a lack of the hype that tends to draw tourists in droves.

Limones: A longtime local favorite, this California-Mexican restaurant features brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. The three-cheese relleno is a perennial favorite, while spicy ceviche is incredibly nourishing after a night of over-imbibing. There are egg dishes like huevos divorciados, as well as more substantial and meaty lunch dishes. After noon, check out the rather gargantuan mimosas or select from the margarita list. And don’t skip the hot chocolate with churros. 13 Eagle St.

Rhubarb: The ever-changing brunch menu at this restaurant is fortified with excellent baked goods from the restaurant’s pastry staff, including the muffin-croissant hybrid, the “cruffin.” For a restaurant whose chef has such deep Southern influences, healthy brunch options are plenty, including granola bowls and other dishes with whole grains and greens. But that isn’t to say that brunch here is purely pious. Past menus have included a local-sausage patty melt, gooey omelets and french toast smothered in rhubarb-brown sugar syrup. 7 SW Pack Square.

The Junction: People are raving about the seasonal, house-made pop tart at this creative, modern-American River Arts District restaurant. What else should you check out? The house-made bacon is good for starters. There are a few lighter options on the menu including seasonal salads or, if you like choices, try one of several eggs Benedict dishes, which come with both veggie and meat options. 348 Depot St.

Table: Table’s brunch is elegantly simple and unfettered, with salads full of farmers market fare, house-made granola, fried chicken and breakfast sandwiches on house-baked croissants. With a light-filled dining room and expansive windows looking out to College Street, it’s also an excellent place to fritter away the weekend hours and sip on cocktails or wine from the restaurant’s carefully curated list. 48 College St.

Social Lounge: Sometimes, you just want a bagel and a Bloody Mary on the roof. This restaurant serves gussied-up brunch standards, including croissant sandwiches piled with steak and eggs, ricotta pancakes and house-made granola. It also bears the distinction of being the only downtown brunch spot with a rooftop patio. 29 Broadway St.

The Market Place: This seasonally influenced restaurant doesn’t skimp when it comes to brunch. The menu is dotted with regional favorites like Allan Benton’s pork products; his much-lauded country ham comes layered with poached eggs and grit cakes in a modern-Southern take on eggs Benedict. Though steak and local trout are on the menu, there’s also plenty of veggie fare, including a spinach-filled omelet or a roasted-cauliflower salad. 20 Wall St.

Isa’s Bistro: This restaurants boasts prime real estate on one of Asheville’s favorite corners. It also benefits from the talents of chef Duane Fernandes, whose food bears more than a few marks of his culinary school days in Charleston, South Carolina. Low-country influences appear in the form of fried-oyster po’ boys, eggs Benedict topped with crab, and shrimp and grits. 1 Battery Park Ave.

Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack: Despite what the moniker might suggest, this restaurant is not solely about the hot chicken. A recent brunch menu included a chicken-tender Benedict, biscuits and gravy, and a dish of chicken and waffles, which can be made with the restaurant’s signature hot chicken, or mild for the tender of stomach. Two locations.

Tod’s Tasties: Since this restaurant serves breakfast on the daily, it’s hard to call it a brunch spot, per se. But the accessible Montford location and healthy hedonism breakfasts like the Buddha Bowl, with eggs, kimchi and avocado, make this a prime place to get your day started right. 102 Montford Ave.


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Asheville’s construction City Centre complex gets its ‘topping off’

Construction crews installed the first beam of the roof of the City Centre in a topping off ceremony on Wednesday.

ASHEVILLE – A major commercial project in downtown Asheville is topless no more.

Construction crews on Wednesday held a “topping off” ceremony — which includes placing a US flag at the highest point on the structure — as they started to put roofs on the City Centre buildings at the corner of College and Charlotte streets.

The property just east of the Buncombe County Courthouse will become the site of a four-story office building, a six-story Hilton Garden Inn Hotel and a 254-space private parking deck.

A Tripps Restaurant previously sat on the lot at 311 College St.

The hotel will reportedly cost about $16 million to complete, while the City Centre project will cost an estimated $24 million. Construction began last year. Both are set for a 2016 opening date.

Rusty Pulliam, head of Pulliam Properties, partnered with John Spake of Spake Real Estate on the development project.

Confirmed tenants inside the City Centre office building include BB&T bank. A listing shows office spaces inside the City Centre building are being leased for between $27 and $30 per square foot. Up to 17,000 square feet is available.

The current BB&T building in downtown Asheville is set to become an upscale hotel and condominium complex, which will include a restaurant, lobby bar and more than 4,000 square feet of meeting and event space.

That project is set for completion in 2017.


via Caitlin Byrd, [email protected]:40 p.m. EDT August 12, 2015

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Asheville area vacation rental rules tightening; fines up to $500

It’s about to get a lot harder to rent a place if you’re visiting the Asheville area.

At least if you’re not renting a traditional hotel room. Short-term rentals, made popular by websites such as Airbnb and Vacation Rental by Owner, are when homeowners lease their houses for a brief period, such as one night or a week.

But now, the profitable but scattered short-term rental industry is facing increased scrutiny from Asheville and nearby towns. Fines and new rules are being written and passed. In one case, homeowners violating rules could be fined $500 a night.

Supporters of the new rules say they want to stop out-of-state property owners from buying up homes and jacking up already high housing costs.

“There is an incredible amount of demand for short-term rentals in Asheville,” said Vice Mayor Marc Hunt.

Proponents of the booming business, meanwhile, say many who rent out homes are locals who depend on the income in an area lacking good-paying jobs.

What are short-term rentals? Homestays?

Short-term lodging takes different forms.

Traditional hotels are easy to spot. Then there are bed-and-breakfasts, where guests stay in a house, renting rooms like in a hotel but often sharing common spaces, such as living rooms, and also eating meals together provided by the owner.

Both of those lodging types are regulated by health and safety rules and often pay special taxes, such as Buncombe County’s 4-cent occupancy tax, on top of the standard 7-cent sales tax.

Short-term rentals are commonly defined as entire homes or dwelling units, such as condominiums or basement apartments rented for brief periods of time. In some places, such as Asheville, the time period is less than 30 days. In other places, it’s anything less than 90 days.

At least one short-term rental listing company, Airbnb, has started paying Buncombe’s occupancy tax.

Homestays are different. They are when a person rents out a room or part of a home while the main resident stays there.

Asheville, Biltmore Forest and Woodfin are all in the process of making rule changes to homestays and short-term rentals.

The fight is the stiffest inside the city, which has become a tourist mecca.

One search of Airbnb showed rentals priced up to $550 a night in the Montford area. A three-bedroom house on Town Mountain Road, meanwhile, was renting for up to $4,340 a week on Vacation Rentals by Owner. Estimates on the number of short-term rentals in city limits come in at 650 or even more than 700.

Most of those are illegal. The rentals are banned in the majority of the city. They are allowed in commercially zoned areas with buildings permitted for lodging, such as downtown condominiums. On Aug. 25, City Council is holding a public hearing and could vote on rules tightening enforcement against illegal rentals in residentially zoned and other areas.

Fines for violations now are $100 a night, but could go up to $500 with council approval. The city has also budgeted for a full-time staff member to enforce the ban. Currently, enforcement is complaint-driven.

Hunt said he sympathizes with property owners wanting to rent, but he is backing the new rules. They will prevent disruptions to neighborhoods where people place high value on knowing fellow residents, the vice mayor said. Cracking down on the rentals will also put more property into the long-term market and will help with escalating housing costs, he said.

“There would easily be a significant number of houses being bought for the purpose of short-term rentals that would in turn drive up land values and housing costs and in turn increase the rental rates.”

A majority of council members appear to agree. But a few members say rules should instead be loosened. Councilman Cecil Bothwell said the rentals should be allowed everywhere in Asheville. Bothwell said he doesn’t believe housing prices are affected and enforcement will be troublesome.

“I think any attempt to regulate a business plan that permits local entrepreneurs to use international websites to attract business is a fool’s errand.”

Renters are not breaking rules just by advertising, he said. And they could easily dodge city inspectors by saying the renter had intended to stay for more than 30 days but then “only stayed for a weekend,” he said.

Homestays, on the other hand, would be easier to operate under the new rules. Current rules that require the owner to provide a meal would be eliminated. Changes would also allow someone besides the owner to be the permanent resident.

In general, homestays would have to be “subordinate and incidental to the main residential use of the building.”

The fight got the attention of San Francisco-based Airbnb, which sent representatives last month to meet with individual council members, or in one case, Mayor Esther Manheimer and the vice mayor together.

Bothwell said he attended an event Airbnb hosted for its landlords at a downtown restaurant July 23. Earlier that day, he met with three of their state and federal representatives, he said, “to hear their story.”

Manheimer could not be reached Tuesday afternoon.

Hunt said council members have also been getting many emails as part of an organized campaign from frequent Airbnb guests in Asheville, including a high number of people from Florida and New York.

He and the mayor met with Max Pomeranc, an Airbnb head of regional public policy. The company representatives didn’t “press” for loosening short-term rental rules, Hunt said.

Instead, he said, they were interested in the new rules for homestays, a type of rental also very popular on Airbnb.

Biltmore Forest

This municipality south of Asheville is pushing ahead with an outright ban on both short-term rentals and homestays.

There aren’t many of these rentals inside the well-heeled town. One appeared on Airbnb next to U.S. 25 going for $289 a night.

Town Administrator Jonathan Kanipe said elected officials “wanted to get ahead of the curve” after getting questions about local rules following the Asheville debate.

“(The Board of Commissioners) found that limiting these types of rentals is in keeping with the existing character and nature of the town and its residential zoning districts,” Kanipe said.

Fines in Biltmore Forest would be small at $50 a day, or 10 times less than Asheville’s proposed penalty.


Elected officials in this town were set to move ahead with rental bans after a raucous bachelorette party in May drew neighborhood complaints.

But rental owners pushed back and officials instead formed a task force to study the issue and make recommendations.

The task force is made up of rental owners, residents and town officials. One member, Victoria Clark, operates a homestay with her husband Gordon. The two suffered big financial losses following medical problems and the 2008 recession. They cashed in retirement savings and bought a 1946 bungalow on a sloped lot.

They’ve been renting a room to visitors since May 1 and depend on the income, they said.

Victoria said she’s not sure where the task force will land with its recommendations but it will likely propose allowing homestays. Short-term rentals, meanwhile, might be banned in all or parts of the residentially zoned areas. They’re currently allowed in commercial areas.

At first suspicious of the process, Victoria said she’s encouraged by how the task force is listening to different parties on a very “touchy” issue.

“I feel like we could be the template for how small communities could do this,” she said.

Opposition and market forces

In places such as Asheville, though, some residents remain strongly opposed to the practice. Alice Helms, who lives in the Five Points neighborhood north of downtown, bristled at the characterization of the rental business as “grassroots.” Helms said the business was backed by large corporations, just like hotel chains.

“The only affected parties who lack corporate backing are the ordinary citizens who simply wish their residential neighborhoods to remain residential.”

Others say the overarching issues, such as legality of bans and housing affordability, could be decided by larger forces.

Those forces are the courts and the market, said Derek Allen, an Asheville attorney with Ward and Smith who has represented rental owners. Allen said state rules might in the end preempt local bans.

As for high housing costs, he said there’s an apartment development boom about to happen not far outside downtown.

“A lot of this is good politics for some folks who want to run on that. The development community, the market, will absolutely address our need for apartments.”

Joel Burgess, [email protected]7:56 p.m. EDT August 11, 2015 via

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Selling your house without an agent?

New company offers sale-by-owner online transactions without real estate agents — or the commissions they charge.

ASHEVILLE – Asheville homeowners who want to sell their house without a real estate agent, and save money on paying a commission, have a new tool.

SQFTx Inc., based in Boulder, Colorado, has launched an online sale-by-owner website that removes “the middleman” — the agent — from the residential real estate transaction process.

But several local and national agents and real estate experts cast doubt on how new SQFT’s service actually is. And they questioned its effectiveness and the wisdom of its premise.

James Simpson, SQFT’s CEO, said in a phone interview that Asheville would serve as the company’s North Carolina headquarters.

“Asheville fits our brand; it suits our market well and we’ll suit Asheville well,” Simpson said of opening for business in the hub of Western North Carolina.

SQFT’s “new techniques” are “hip and current,” just like Asheville, Simpson said.

Simpson launched the company in May, he said. The company had sold about 20 houses, Simpson said last week, and another four were under contract.

Roughly 200 more properties “are in the queue” of becoming live listings, he said. “People have started the process.”

The company will work with locally based partners in states where it establishes affiliates, Simpson said.

SQFT NC became a reality earlier this month, said James Cassidy, the local affiliate’s majority investor. He is managing director of the Asheville-based Preposterous Realty LLC. That company is a subsidiary of Preposterous Holdings LLC, an Asheville private equity and venture capital firm that Cassidy founded and owns.

Cassidy listed the first Asheville property — a lot on Mount Clare Avenue with a two-car garage for $100,000.

A three-month advertising blitz for SQFT NC is scheduled to begin soon, he said.

The younger generation was top of mind when Simpson and his team developed the product, which also is an app, with features that are user-friendly on a laptop or smartphone.

“Millennials are likely to be the largest consumers of real estate ever in the next five years,” Simpson said. And they’re used to a different way of doing things, he said.

“They’ll do anything to avoid human contact or picking up the phone,” Simpson said. “A 30-year-old homebuyer isn’t going to want to be driven around looking at properties by a real estate agent in his 50s.”

SQFT allows homebuyers, in theory, to do everything from their phones or laptops, he said.

“We’re connecting that last mile, without having to make that call to the Realtor,” Simpson said.

But, Simpson emphasized, the technology will appeal to all, regardless of age.

And he underscored that the point of SQFT is not to replace the real estate agent — the company will have a team at the ready — but to offer a “second tier of service.”

“Is this going to storm the real estate market and transform it?” Cassidy said. “Of course not.”

What it is, he said, is a great alternative to a full-service broker for those who want one.

Particularly those trying to save money, Simpson said.

“Plenty of people are cost-sensitive and not psyched to pay 6 percent (commission),” he said.

Instead, the commission will be 1 percent to 3 percent “because the app will be doing the work,” Cassidy said.

A large majority of transactions will still be done with brokers and agents, he said.

“I’m a big fan of real estate agents in most cases,” Cassidy said.

But for the percentage that are sale by owner, “we feel this is a much better answer,” he said.

The SQFT model gives those people “the opportunity to have some representation and some oversight,” said Kirk Adcock, the Asheville affiliate’s broker in charge.

Adcock has been a land developer for about 25 years and a broker for about 12, he said.

“A certain segment of the population says they don’t need an agent,” Adcock said. “We allow those people, who want to do it themselves, a platform where they can do it easily.”

But others weren’t so sure.

“I have a fairly high level of skepticism,” said Jonathan Miller, the New York-based co-founder of Miller Samuel, a residential real estate appraisal company, and the commercial valuation firm Miller Cicero. “In order to make it work, they’ve got to really scale it.”

Companies such as SQFT emerge when bubbles exist, Miller said.

“Right now, a tremendous amount is being invested in the tech sector,” he said. “Different industry disruptors are created. This would be one of them.”

The idea of consumers preferring to work without an agent sounds logical — but only during cycles like now when housing inventory is tight and homes are easier to sell, Miller said.

“What happens during a downturn is these startups collapse,” he said. “People want more hand-holding.”

Worse, the way SQFT executives present the company’s services is “misleading,” said Don Davies, a broker and owner of Realsearch, an Asheville company that analyzes local real-estate trends.

“The website neglects to tell the seller that they’re going to have to pay the buyer’s agent something — if the agent belongs to the National Association of Realtors,” Davies said.

That Chicago-based nonprofit real estate industry organization owns and runs the Multiple Listing Service. That is the official list containing properties for sale that most people and organizations use to buy and sell real estate.

Agents who are Realtors are guaranteed a commission if a property is listed in the MLS, Davies said.

And no agent is going to work for less than 3 percent commission, if the agent can earn that working for other clients, he said.

The company’s proposed sales model creates conflicts of interest, said Rafael Rettig, a real estate agent with Investec Realty and Business Solutions in Asheville.

That’s because the company’s interest becomes primary rather than the seller’s, Rettig said. The only way the company can charge less is to increase volume and decrease involvement in “the process usually handled by the agent on behalf of the client.”

The company then focuses on the process, rather than the seller, he said.

But “the driving focus behind the realty agreement between a firm and its seller is to protect the seller through the whole process. This new model chips away at the Realtor’s ability to do that well,” Rettig said.

Davies and Rettig also said the idea isn’t new. Several companies offer sale-by-owner services, they said.

Home Selling Service and Seller Solutions in Asheville are two. Clickit Realty Inc., with services in six states, including North Carolina, is another.

Davies founded a company 19 years ago that aimed to let the seller decide what agent services he or she would pay for.

He sold it to a local real estate agent who promptly killed it. “There was a lot of opposition to the idea in the 1990s,” Davies said.

Others, such as Byron Greiner, a broker-Realtor team captain of The Dwell Realty Group in Asheville, said saving money on commission isn’t worth it if money is lost due to overpaying or selling too cheaply.

“Would you go to someone to have surgery that was not a true professional and risk your health? No, you would find the best professional possible,” said Greiner, who also is an Asheville Board of Realtors director.

Greiner said he had the opportunity to work with SQFT, but “I felt like investing in the product was a conflict of interest because I wish to deliver the highest and best professional service to my clients that is possible. Purchasing a home or commercial building is most likely the biggest investment most people make.”

Most sellers who go it alone do more harm than good, said Maria Patterson, executive editor of Connecticut-based RISMedia, an independent source of national real estate information.

Their homes often remain on the market too long and, ultimately, they could sell for a lower price, Patterson said.

“These sellers end up enlisting an agent to get their homes sold, but have unfortunately wasted a lot of time and money.”

via  Mike Cronin, [email protected] 10:22 a.m. EDT August 6, 2015

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Out with Chains – Say Ashevillians

Asheville businesses fight to keep big chains out

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — When Marylou Marsh-Sanders opened a clothing store in downtown Asheville six years ago, all eyes were on her two-story neighbor.

The brown building on the corner of Haywood and College streets had been a CVS store since the 1970s, but its time at this busy downtown intersection was coming to an end. By the time Marsh-Sanders opened Spiritex in 2009, the red-lettered CVS sign was long gone and the national chain retailer Urban Outfitters had arrived.

The response from independent business owners was swift and clear: Keep Asheville local.

Now, six years later, downtown business owners find themselves fighting the same fight on a different street.

Their attention has pivoted one block up to Lexington Avenue, where it has been announced that an Anthropologie store will be moving in — sandwiching the women’s high-end apparel store between a local clothing boutique and a brewery.

One national retail chain in downtown Asheville is one thing, said Marsh-Sanders. But two? That could threaten everything — from commercial rental prices to the very character of downtown Asheville.

“Once one chain weasels their way in, more will follow,” she said. “Once that happens, how will you ever be able to come back to what it used to be? After everyone pioneered and worked and fought to make downtown Asheville what it is today, all of it could be wiped away if we aren’t careful. We’ve got to hold onto that. There has to be a way.”

Last week, business owner Rebecca Hecht, who also serves on the Asheville Downtown Commission, created an online petition calling for the city to place a moratorium on chain and formula stores in downtown. By Friday, the petition had garnered 2,000 signatures.

City attorney Robin Currin said Asheville does not have any restrictions or zoning ordinances that are aimed at keeping the number of chain businesses in downtown low.

However, other cities do.

After a Ralph Lauren opened in 2005 on Nantucket Island, Mass., the town adopted a zoning ordinance that limits stores and restaurants in its downtown to companies with fewer than 14 identical outlets and fewer than three standardized features, like trademarks, menus or employee uniforms.

In 2006, citizens and elected officials in Bristol, R.I., adopted an ordinance that bans formula stores larger than 2,500 square feet or that take up more than 65 feet of street frontage downtown. Smaller formula stores have to apply for a special use permit and must not detract from the district’s uniqueness or contribute to what it calls the “nationwide trend of standardized downtown offerings.”

Other cities have taken similar actions.

 But Currin said the city of Asheville is bound by a state statute that dictates what cities and municipalities can do with their zoning.

“A zoning ordinance may regulate and restrict the height, number of stories and size of buildings and other structures, the percentage of lots that may be occupied, the size of yards, courts and other open spaces, the density of population, the location and use of buildings, structures and land,” it reads.

In other words, Currin said, businesses cannot be kept out of downtown Asheville by tenant.

“We can’t just do whatever we want to do,” Currin said. “We have our laws that we have to follow.”

Franzi Charen, the executive director of Asheville Grown Business Alliance, has been leading the “go local” charge since the organization’s founding in 2009.

“Corporate interests and Wall Street profits have dictated the direction of hundreds of downtowns,” Charen said. “We must look 20 years down the road at the real implications of these decisions based on short-term profit and outside interests.”

Charen said this is why the community must look at other solutions to keeping downtown Asheville local in the future.

“While (a ban or regulation on chains) could buy us time, it is not the remedy to creating a resilient community,” she said. “There are communities developing interesting solutions that help to build a stronger local business community not dependent on tourism. In New York City they’ve established a fund to incubate worker cooperatives. Utah incentivizes downtown property owners to sell to local businesses over national chains or outside developers.”

However, local business owners and leaders alike say chains downtown do not necessarily mean the end of downtown Asheville as we know it.

Kit Cramer, president and CEO of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, is a downtown resident.

The offerings of local downtown establishments contribute to why she lives downtown. However, she added that sometimes chains can keep Asheville’s economy competitive and growing.

“I love shopping and eating and being entertained at local establishments. It’s part of the reason I live downtown. That being said, I also love seeing a quality rehabilitation of a vacant storefront. That infusion of dollars not only creates jobs, it will attract more potential customers — both locals and visitors — for all the businesses in the area,” she said. “That means the businesses profit and are able to pay the sales and property taxes, which allow us to provide the community services of which we all take advantage.”

Before Urban Outfitters — parent company of Anthropologie — moved into the former CVS store on Haywood Street, the drugstore had been empty for almost a year.

Anthropologie would not comment about its plans for the space on Lexington.

Marsh-Sanders said her real fear with chains isn’t about a specific store. It comes down to one word: homogenization.

Jeff Milchen, the co-founder and co-director of the American Independent Business Alliance,

describes the challenge of keeping certain areas chain-free as a fairly consistent issue among communities nationwide.

“The larger trend of gentrification, to use the more generic term, with above-market rate increases in rent and the resulting increase of local rent has become a huge topic in this past year. We’re seeing a lot of other cities with organizing fronts who are exploring different ideas,” he said.

One idea Milchen expects to see more of in the coming months is commercial real estate land trusts. They allow people to collectively invest in and own a commercial property in town and make a profit, but with the stipulation that the property can only be leased out to local businesses and residents instead of leasing for the greatest rate of return.

But Milchen said cities don’t necessarily need a moratorium, regulation or ban on chain stores to make a difference.

In the 1990s, Milchen was organizing go-local efforts in Boulder, Colo. His group was exploring a citywide cap on formula businesses of all kinds and a limitation on square footage of retail chain operations. It was not adopted, but Milchen said it still made a difference.

“Even though it didn’t pass into law, they were really powerful tools for advancing public awareness and creating a really healthy debate in the community that led people to taking much more proactive measures when thinking about growth,” he said.

(Photo: Angeli Wright, Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times)

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3 Asheville apartment projects approved

Rents for all complexes will be market-rate.

Distressed Homes Purchaser in Asheville :

ASHEVILLE – Hundreds of downtown apartments in three different complexes will become available during the months ahead.

Members of the Asheville Planning & Zoning Commission on Thursday approved a total of 318 new apartments:

• 146 units at 185 Coxe Avenue.

• 140 units at 55 South Market St.

• 32 units at 56. South Lexington Ave.

The commission’s approval is final and the projects do not need to be reviewed by city council.

The Coxe Avenue property, known as the Ledford Site Apartments, will be five stories and include a 288-parking garage.

South Slope Holdings LLC, based in Wilmington, is developing the property.

The footprint for the project is 1.71 acres.

“The building has two courtyards, which effectively breaks the façade into three sections” of equal width, according to city planning documents.

Bricks will be of two colors: “tan and a darker shade of brown.”

Asheville Planning Department documents did not provide further information on the project.

Estates and Companies, a real estate company based in Columbia, South Carolina, is developing the property at 55 South Market St.

The complex will offer market-based rents for the studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

Units will range in size from roughly 525 square feet to about 1,300 square feet.

Construction on the 1.13-acre parcel could begin by late summer.

Each unit will have a designated parking space.

Two levels of parking and five floors of residential space will compose the building. The parking levels will contain 136 spaces. Commissioners approved a variance allowing another six parking spaces on South Spruce Street.

The complex height will be 72 feet and comprise 132,150 square feet in gross floor area.

Asheville-based Public Interest Projects Inc.’s Garage Apartments will offer 32 market-rate apartments at 56 South Lexington Avenue.

Space for a commercial operation also will exist at the five-story building. That will be retail, according to city Planning Department documents.

Construction on the 0.19-acre parcel behind the Aloft Hotel could begin in late summer or early fall.

Twenty-four of the units will be one-bedroom apartments measuring about 500 square feet to 600 square feet.

Three one-bedroom apartments will be 775 square feet with options including a dining area, an office area or a small second bedroom.

Eight two-bedroom apartments will measure between 760 square feet and 860 square feet.

Five of those units will be townhouse-type units opening onto the sidewalk on Lexington.

The commercial space will be on a corner and offer outdoor seating.

Non-townhouse apartments will include balconies overlooking Lexington Avenue.

Dedicated parking will not exist. But the complex will be connected by a doorway to an upper floor of the parking garage at 51 Biltmore Ave.

An elevator will serve the upper floors from the lobby on Lexington.

The building will comprise about 33,000 square feet.

via  Mike Cronin, [email protected]9:11 p.m. EDT July 17, 2015

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$1 billion building boom: Development bounces back

When it comes to commercial real estate and building in the Asheville area, we might be on the cusp of a historic time.

Hotels, retail spots, offices, medical buildings, apartments, schools — they’re all going up at one time, and more are in the pipeline. Total development investment coming to the area in the next half-decade is staggering, topping an estimated $1 billion.

And interest is coming in all seven of the Asheville area’s commercial corridors — Tunnel Road, Merrimon Avenue/U.S. 25, Patton Avenue/Smoky Park Highway, Hendersonville Road, Long Shoals Road, Airport Road and Brevard Road, said John Spake, founder of Spake Real Estate.

The Reynolds Mountain development in Woodfin, which is to include retail, office and residential, serves as an example, Spake said. It has been under development for more than a decade, and like most developments, it took a hit after the Great Recession of 2008-09, “going dormant,” as Spake describes it.

“If I’d come to you a year ago and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to put $60 million of development in Reynolds Mountain,’ you would’ve said, ‘Spake, you’ve lost your mind,'” he said. “But you’re going to wake up a year from now, and it’s going to be complete. It’s pretty exciting for the north side of the county.”

His company represents the seller, Wells Fargo bank. Spake said they sold a hotel pad two months ago for a new Holiday Inn Express hotel, a 7-acre tract to a business group that will build a $37 million assisted living facility, and they’re under contract for another tract of land that will accommodate two medical buildings.

“I think Asheville has been known for its slow, steady growth, and yes, we had a retraction during the recession, but it has caught up a lot quicker than we’ve ever seen in the past,” Spake said.

Fellow developer Rusty Pulliam, head of Pulliam Properties, suggests the market’s heat is reaching historic proportions. It brings to mind the building frenzy of the early 20th century and the Roaring ’20s.

“With the economic growth going on right now, it’s like I’ve never seen it in my 30-year career,” said Pulliam, who partnered with Spake on the development of the $24 million City Centre office building project and the sale of a hotel site next to it. “I think Asheville has been primed for this growth for years, and it’s just now occurring. If the national economy stays healthy, Asheville is going to have a robust next 10 years.”

Beyond recovery

Pulliam’s company has a 7-acre tract under contract for retail development along Long Shoals Road, and one of his brokers, Paul Ellis, recently closed a $12.8 million deal on the South College building on Sweeten Creek Road, which two limited liability corporations bought as an investment. The deal, which will have no effect on the college’s operations, highlights how hot the commercial market is right now.

On the western edge of downtown, Pulliam’s company just closed on a deal to sell the former Buncosmbe County Sheriff’s Office on Haywood Street to a hotel developer, a $4 million transaction. With five hotels underway or scheduled to be built downtown, Pulliam says he expects to see five more announced in the coming year or two.

Ellis, who did the South College deal, said this year he’s already handled $18 million in transactions.

“I think as a whole, obviously the residential market always comes back first, but number two is the commercial market — it follows right behind it,” Ellis said. “With commercial as a whole, we’re seeing a lot more franchise people who are coming here with new businesses and restaurants, and we’re seeing a huge boom with the brewing market.”

County and city permitting offices have seen the deluge firsthand.

For the fiscal year that ended June 30, Asheville issued building and upfit permits with an estimated construction value of $400 million, said Shannon Tuch, Asheville’s development services director. In 2012, it was $188 million.

New Belgium’s $175 million brewery on the west side of the French Broad River leads the pack of major investments. The facility should start brewing beer later this year.

But hotels have also drawn a lot of attention — and dollars.

A $12 million Hyatt Place Hotel is going up where the Three Brothers Restaurant used to be on Haywood Street downtown, and work is underway on the $20 million AC Hotel near the BB&T Building. The $16 million Hilton Garden Inn, next to Pulliam and Spake’s City Centre, just east of the Buncombe County Courthouse, should expand downtown’s reach.

“About two months ago, it was just crazy,” said Bob Haynes, who handles commercial plan review for Buncombe County.

Commercial activity wasn’t hit immediately by the recession and didn’t bottom out until 2011, when the county handled 42 commercial building or upfit permits with a value of $22.5 million. That year, they had no permit applications for apartments.

The value of commercial permits rose to $44 million the next year, dipped to $31 million in 2013 and then exploded in 2014 — 98 permits totaling nearly $135 million in work. So far this year, through May, the county is on pace to top that, with 43 permits for almost $79 million in work.

Richard Whitney, president of Whitney Commercial Real Estate, said their total volume of sales and leases, year-to-date, is up 47 percent from 2014. For the past 12 months, compared to the previous 12 months, it’s up 77 percent.

“I feel like the recession ended in 2009, but we didn’t begin to come out of it until the fourth quarter of 2010,” Whitney said.

Commercial development aside, home sellers are pretty happy with life right now.

“We just had the strongest June in residential sales we’ve had since 2006,” said Don Davies, whose firm, RealSearch, tracks residential real estate trends.

In June 2006, Buncombe County saw single-family home sales of 455 houses, with an average sales price of $283,600. This June, Buncombe saw 417 sales with an average sales price of $287,584.

“So we’re kind of back to balance,” Davies said.

With interest rates remaining low, under 4 percent, and movers and shakers looking for opportunities again, Whitney said the investment market is the strongest segment he sees now.

“The highest demand but the hardest to find is investment property,” Whitney said.

‘All the wheels are turning’

Governments, school systems and hospitals are in on the act, too.

  • Asheville City Schools has two building projects underway — a new $23 million Isaac Dickson Elementary School and a new $41 million Asheville Middle School, both scheduled to open for the 2016-17 school year.
  • Buncombe County’s new Enka Intermediate School, scheduled for completion July 25, came in at $25 million.
  • Buncombe County commissioners in January approved a $48.5 million social services expansion to house food assistance, Medicaid and immunization services at the Coxe Avenue location.
  • The city of Asheville will spearhead the spending of about $50 million in public funds over the next six years in the River Arts District, with money going toward greenways, road rerouting and other infrastructure upgrades. About 44 percent of public money is coming from federal and state sources, while another $200 million in private investment is expected to flow into the area. New Belgium’s brewery will be a lynchpin in the area.
  • Mission Health plans to build an 11-story, $404 million tower on its Mission campus, with site preparation starting in August and a projected completion date of November 2018. When finished, the building will comprise 635,000 square feet and hold new operating rooms, an emergency services department and other spaces.

Pulliam said all of the development feeds on itself, generating more development. More jobs bring more apartments, which bring shoppers and restaurant diners, and hotels bring tourists to buy pints at microbrews or paintings at artists studios.

South Asheville and southern Buncombe County — home to Hendersonville, Airport and Long Shoals roads — remain the hottest markets geographically. Spake noted that several properties they handle the leasing for are near or at full capacity, including the Walmart center on Hendersonville Road, which is 100 percent occupied, and the Ingles Shopping Center less than a mile away, 94 percent occupied.

The nearby Gerber Village shopping center, home to restaurants and retail and, like Reynolds Mountain, slow to catch on, is going to be 90 percent leased by summer’s end, Spake said.

Fitzhugh Stout, senior managing director of the Charlotte office of Integra Realty, which assesses commercial real estate and closely follows the industry, said Asheville is not alone in the boom. His company has offices across the Carolinas, and he says, “We’re seeing a definite uptick.”

“Everything is improving,” Stout said. “Of course, the hottest market across the country is apartments.”

Pulliam said some 3,000 new units will come online in the region over the next five years.

The city of Asheville had a market study done that found an apartment vacancy rate of 1 percent, indicating a huge demand for apartments. Stout said his company has worked on projects in the Asheville area including a 310-unit development near Biltmore Village and another 168-unit development near Brevard Road.

He likened Asheville to another popular tourist destination, Charleston, South Carolina.

“Charleston is experiencing the same thing — the growth has been explosive in apartments and hotels, and office is starting to come into play, too,” Stout said. “I would imagine that’s going to happen in Asheville as well.”

As he puts it, “It is the Carolinas’ time.”


Buncombe County commercial building and upfit (renovations) permits
Year, total, value

• 2009, 85, $36.5M
• 2010, 69, $41M
• 2011, 42, $22.5M
• 2012 41, $44M
• 2013, 57, $31M
• 2014, 98, $135M
• 2015 (through May), 43, $78.7M

Multifamily dwelling permits (apartments)
Year, buildings, units, cost

• 2009, 17, 284, $13.6M
• 2010, 22, 519, $21.2M
• 2011, 0, 0, 0
• 2012, 1, 4, $250,000
• 2013, 5, 80, $2.6M
• 2014, 18, 351, $18.3M
• 2015 (through May), 7, 86, $252,000

Source: Buncombe County Permits & Inspections

Major projects underway or starting soon

New Belgium Brewery: $175 million investment in the River Arts District, East Coast operations center. The facility should start brewing beer later this year.

Hyatt Place Hotel: The $12, seven-story million hotel is well under way on Haywood Street where Three Brothers Restaurant, with exterior work nearing completion. Scheduled to open this year, with 140 rooms.

Projects underway

AC Hotel: Excavation and foundation work is underway on the $20 million hotel near the BB&T Building downtown. The 132-room Marriott-branded hotel at 10 Broadway, planned for nine stories, is scheduled to open during summer 2016.

Hilton Garden Inn/City Centre office building: The $16 million, six-story hotel and the four-story, $24 million office building on the east side of downtown are well under construction. The project should open in 2016.

Mission Health tower: The region’s largest hospital plans to build an 11-story, $404 million tower on its Mission campus. Site preparation starts in August; projected completion date is November 2018. The 635,000-square-foot building will house new operating rooms, an emergency services department and other spaces.

Asheville City Schools: New $23 million Isaac Dickson Elementary School, and new $41 million Asheville Middle School. Both should open for 2016-17 school year.

Enka Intermediate School: Buncombe County’s newest school is scheduled for completion July 25. Cost is $25 million

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Downtown Asheville’s Hotel Indigo sells for more than $30M

Summit Hotel Properties, Inc., an Austin, Texas-based company bought Indigo from Hospitality Lodging Investors, LP, based in York, Pennsylvania.

Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown has been sold for about $33 million to Summit Hotel Properties, Inc., the Austin, Texas-based company has announced.

Buncombe County Register of Deeds documents show the sale price and that the transaction occurred on June 29.

Hospitality Lodging Investors, LP, based in York, Pennsylvania, had owned the Hotel Indigo.

Reached by phone on Thursday, Dennis Goodwin, Hospitality Lodging Investors president, declined comment.

Daniel Hansen, Summit president and CEO, said in a prepared statement on Wednesday, “Our team is extremely pleased with the acquisition of the Hotel Indigo centrally located in the vibrant Asheville market.”

He noted that the diversity of Asheville’s economy and the “highly-desirable” nature of the Asheville market makes the 115-room Indigo “a perfect addition to our portfolio.”

Summit also entered into a management agreement with Virginia-based Interstate Hotels & Resorts, Summit announced on Wednesday.

Summit plans to spend about $400,000 in capital improvements to the Indigo during the next year.

The publicly traded real estate investment trust focuses on acquiring and owning upscale lodging-industry properties.

As of Wednesday, Summit owned 93 hotels comprising 11,933 guestrooms in 23 states.

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