Blog :: 2007

Green Homes Popular In Asheville

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12/28/2007 - Green Homes Popular In Asheville
by ACT

Asheville While home sales slump nationwide, the market keeps growing for houses that can save money for homeowners and perhaps help save the planet.

Green builders are all staying busy, said Greg McGuffey of Earthtone Builders.

McGuffeys latest project outside Black Mountain will be certified as the 100th N.C. HealthyBuilt home for Western North Carolina. Homes earn the certification by fulfilling a long checklist of details that include raising energy efficiency and using recycled materials while cutting down on waste and damage to the environment.

HealthyBuilt homes in the region priced from $150,000 to $500,000 spent between two and 75 days on the market, compared with an average of 108 days for conventional homes, real estate agent Mary Love said.

HealthyBuilt homes move better, especially in this market because theres an advantage as far as the energy savings go, said Love, who was one of the first agents to be certified as an Eco-Realtor through a special program from the Asheville Board of Realtors.

While the NC HealthyBuilt Homes Program covers the entire state, the Asheville area has the lions share of the energy-efficient residences, according to Matt Siegel of the Western North Carolina Green Building Council.

With another 450 houses under construction and waiting to be certified, the HealthyBuilt program is trying to meet the need for more efficient and comfortable housing.

The supply has not yet met the demand. People are moving to Asheville from other progressive areas like Portland and California or the Northeast, and they go to an Eco-Realtor and say, I want to buy a green home, Siegel said.

Saving cash and the environment

While news about climate change has dominated the news this year, most green homebuyers are motivated as much by cost savings as by environmental concerns. When you have a house that costs no more than $40 or $50 a month to operate, that speaks to people, Siegel said.

Those price savings can make HealthyBuilt homes attractive as affordable housing, said David Bennert of Innova Homes, which specializes in green modular homes. People on a budget need to be able to save energy and lower their maintenance costs, he said.

In addition, many clients with allergies or sensitivities look for the HealthyBuilt certification, wanting a home with better indoor air quality and fewer chemicals in the materials, he added.

Bennert figured that HealthyBuilt certification can initially add 2-3 percent to a houses cost, and that figure can go up with features such as solar panel systems, required for the higher Silver and Gold certification.

Increasing value

Bennert has seen firsthand how HealthyBuilt certification can add to market value of a new home.

Bennert took a basic modular floor plan of 1,500 square feet and built a modular house in West Asheville that sold for $150,000. Taking the same floor plan and finishing more of the space, he built and sold a house in Kenilworth for $210,000.

With HealthyBuilt certification and adding solar panels and a few more upgrades, Bennert recently built the same 1,500-square-foot house plan in Montford and sold it for $350,000, Bennert said.

Green doesnt mean a mud hut, said Rob Moody of EcoBuilders, who certified the first HealthyBuilt home in Black Mountain in 2004.

Now hes at work on the Southern Living Idea home, the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design residential certification for the area. The U.S. Green Building Council has offered LEED certification for commercial properties, but only now is it developing guidelines for homes and communities.

Bennert and other builders see Asheville gaining a national reputation for green building.

We buy from a number of suppliers across the Southeast, and theyre hearing the buzz in their markets about Asheville. Were just ahead of the curve.

For builders, the certification is a seal of approval and a mark of pride, Siegel said.

HealthyBuilt homes are not just about throwing them up to make money. Its making a statement about how a building should be constructed, he said. It doesnt have to be high-tech. Its just doing things right. Its all in the details.

 

ACT

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Miami Herald Features Asheville

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11/25/2007 - Miami Herald Features Asheville
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Cornelius Vanderbilt, known as ''the commodore'' because of his investments in shipping and railroads, made $100 million before he died in 1877.

In 10 years his son, William Henry, doubled the family fortune.

His son, George W., inherited that $200 million, which in today's dollars would be a hefty $96 billion.

And that's before there were income taxes.

All that information is in the audio tour of the baronial Biltmore Estate and explains why young George could afford to walk away from the stuffy world of industry to devote his life to building the estate's 250-room French Renaissance chateau and filling it with art and furniture from around the world.

When it opened in 1895, Biltmore House was the country's largest private residence, with 35 bedrooms and 43 bathrooms, at a time when most people used an outhouse. The home is still the largest in America, although no one lives there. The curious are welcome to tour for $38 a ticket, and a million or so do each year, which helps pay the bills.

William Cecil Jr., the family member now running the place, has a goal. He says in the audio, ``If George Vanderbilt came back tomorrow and asked for the keys to the house, we're sure he'd be very happy with how we've maintained Biltmore while he was gone.''

No doubt. The place was spotless during my two-hour walk through, not a dust bunny or cobweb in sight.

Vanderbilt, who began the project in 1889 when he was a 27-year-old bachelor, originally purchased some 125,000 acres, and that has shrunk to a mere 8,000 today. But the forests and gardens created by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York's Central Park, are intact, complementing the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with the French Broad River flowing through.

The cool, clean mountain air of western North Carolina was thought to have healing qualities, and Asheville attracted more than billionaires. Sufferers of tuberculosis and other respiratory ailments flocked to the region after the railroad arrived in 1880. Health retreats were set up to treat the patients. Resorts and luxury inns were built to house the healthy.

Edwin Wiley Grove, owner of a pharmaceutical company that made Bromo-Quinine, came in 1900 and purchased a large tract of land on Sunset Mountain to build a magnificent lodge, using native uncut boulders. The Grove Park Inn is still magnificent, with wings added in 1958 and 1963, and a spa created in 2001.

A more modest dwelling for the budget conscious was at 48 Spruce Street, where Julia Wolfe operated the Old Kentucky Home, a 17-bedroom boarding house that charged $7 a week for a room and two daily meals. The youngest of her eight children, Thomas, lived and worked in the house.

One of the boy's jobs was to pass out cards advertising the home at the train station. The cards said, ''No Sick People.'' Later Thomas Wolfe gained his own fame as an author and alienated a lot of folks in town with his most famous novel, Look Homeward, Angel, published in 1929.

''Some people didn't appreciate what he had to say about Asheville,'' said Barbara Mueller, who gives tours of the home for $1. ``So, he stayed away for about eight years.''

Asheville is enjoying a resurgence today. Locals in this town of 69,000 people have pet names for two groups of new arrivals, who are boosting real estate prices and driving the spread of galleries and craft shops in recycled buildings of the historic district. Even the old Woolworth's is divided into artists' booths.

''Halfbacks'' are transplants from the North who moved to South Florida and are now leaving that congestion behind to re-settle in the moderate climate of Asheville, halfway back to their roots. ''Trustafarians'' are the dread-locked droves of young artists found on the park benches and in the coffee houses and brew pubs. Most are struggling in Asheville's crowded art scene, but they're not quite starving, thanks to a little parental support.

This corner of the Appalachian Mountains always has been a hotbed for arts and crafts, with potters, quilters and woodworkers in abundance. There are at least three dozen galleries in downtown Asheville. The Folk Art Center, which features the work of the more than 900 members of the prestigious Southern Highland Craft Guild, is at Milepost 382 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, 15 minutes outside of town.

While the lively arts-and-crafts scene is a boon to buyers and browsers, it's something of a bane to the region's overflow of artists. A front-page story that ran in the Asheville Citizen-Times during my four-day stay had this headline, ''More artists than galleries,'' and quoted several gallery owners as saying they no longer welcomed ''walk-ins'' carrying their portfolios.

Getting displayed in the Folk Art Center is even harder. Spokeswoman Ada Dudenhoffer said more than 100 artists from nine states applied last year. A jury viewed their slides, then invited 30 to bring in their work for inspection.

''Eight were accepted,'' she said. ``They're a pretty tough crowd.''

You can't stay in the lavishly appointed rooms of the Biltmore House, but there was room at the inn.

The Inn on Biltmore Estate opened in 2001 with 213 rooms for guests. Mine was lavish enough, and had a window that looked out over the wooded hills to the estate house perched on a ridge.

The inn has a gourmet restaurant that offers formal dining. I strolled down the pathway through the vineyard to the Biltmore Estate Winery below, where the Bistro restaurant was casual. Thanks to the throngs that tour the estate each year, the winery is said to be the most visited in the country with 600,000 guests.

There are several ways to see the entire estate -- drive the winding roads, hike the trails, bike the paths, ride on horseback or carriage, or float the gentle stretch of the French Broad River. The estate has a fly-fishing school and an outdoor center where you can sign up for an off-road ride in a Land Rover.

There are gift shops at the gate house, main house and winery. And if you're really inspired by Biltmore's design, you can go to www.biltmoreforyourhome.com and see a whole line of indoor and outdoor furnishings inspired by George's worldwide collecting.

Biltmore Estate is an experience for all seasons. The Azalea Garden contains one of the country's largest selections of native azaleas, 15 acres that glow each spring. By summer, the 250 acres of gardens are in their full glory, and the surrounding hills add to the color show in autumn. Beginning in November, the chateau is decorated for Christmas, and open for candlelight tours.

George Vanderbilt, who had booked passage on the Titanic but canceled the trip at the last minute, died in 1914 of complications following an appendectomy. He and his wife, Edith, had one child, Cornelia, who was born in the house. Cornelia and her husband, John Cecil, opened Biltmore to the public in 1930 at the request of city officials, who hoped it would boost tourism during the Depression.

Today, the estate employs some 1,600 people, and is said to contribute $350 million annually into the Asheville economy.

All those Asheville artists, starving and otherwise, need studio space, and a lot of them are setting up shop in the old warehouses along the riverfront in a burgeoning area known as the River Arts District. Some of the studios are open daily to visitors, some are open only by appointment. Most are open to the public during scheduled ''studio strolls,'' which are advertised at www.riverartsdistrict.com.

''People can go into the buildings and walk around,'' said Barbara Lepak Perez, a sculptor and president of the district. ``Knock on a door if you hear a radio.''

During a whirlwind tour, we visited:

The Odyssey Center for the Ceramic Arts, which holds nine-week workshops with national artists.

Pattiy Torno, who makes quilts that sell for up to $10,000.

Mark Olson, who was using a 1936 letterpress to emboss wedding invitations with a delicate dogwood blossom.

Marty and Eileen Black, who fire pottery with the difficult ''copper-red'' glaze.

Genie Maples, who does large, colorful abstract oils that she calls ``visual poetry.''

Painter Skip Rohde, whose political satires included a painting of conservative commentator Ann Coulter wearing only a Gestapo jacket and knee-high black boots.

I also saw some of nature's art at Chimney Rock Park at the end of a 25-mile drive through twisting Hickory Nut Gorge. The park's main feature is a towering rock spire, which was reached by a 26-story ride inside an elevator shaft blasted into the mountainside. The rugged landscape has been featured in several movies, including Last of the Mohicans.

The 1,000 acres had been owned by the Morse family of Missouri for 104 years, but the state of North Carolina in January announced it was buying the land for $24 million, which appeared to be a deal. ''It was appraised by Sotheby's auction house at $55 million,'' said Megan Rogers, who led me on a short hike to the park's 404-foot-tall waterfall.

All that touring and hiking made me weary, so I finished the evening in a white van with Mark Lyons at the wheel and his wife, Trish, sitting shotgun. The couple takes small groups on ''brews cruises,'' and we visited three of Asheville's five microbreweries, where we learned the art of turning barley, hops, yeast and water into beer.

Our first stop was Highland Brewing Co., which Mark said was owned by Oscar Wong. ''He's a Chinese gentleman, born and raised in Jamaica, now selling a Scottish-style ale in North Carolina,'' he explained.

An American success story.

IF YOU GO:

BILTMORE ESTATE: The estate is open year-round. Admission starts at $45 online, $55 at the gate, then drops to $25 and $29 Jan. 2, higher prices on Saturdays. Guided and behind-the-scenes tours are available. For tickets -- or room rates at the Inn on Biltmore Estate: 800-624-1575, www.biltmore.com.

WHERE TO STAY: The Princess Anne Hotel is a lovingly restored boutique hotel with 16 rooms, in a residential area a mile from downtown Asheville. Room rates start at $129. 828-258-0986, www.princessannehotel.com. The Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa has 510 rooms, with room rates starting at $199. 800-438-5800, www.groveparkinn.com. The Asheville Renaissance Hotel is next to the Thomas Wolfe House. Room rates start at $159. 828-252-8211, www.renaissancehotels.com/avlbr.

CHIMNEY ROCK PARK: The park is 25 miles southeast of Asheville, near the intersection of U.S. 64 and Route 74A in Chimney Rock, N.C. 800-277-9611, www.chimneyrockpark.com.

GREAT GALLERIES: Grovewood Gallery, behind Grove Park Inn, at 877-622-7238, www.grovewood.com. New Morning Gallery, in historic Biltmore Village, at 828-274-2831, www.newmorninggallerync.com. Mountain Made, Morning Star Galleries and the Arts & Heritage Gallery, all in Grove Arcade, www.grovearcade.com, in downtown Asheville. Blue Spiral 1 at 38 Biltmore Avenue, 828-251-0202, www.bluespiral1.com.

ASHEVILLE BREWS CRUISE: The cruise is $37 a single, $70 a couple, with stops to sample beers at taprooms. 828-545-5181, www.brewscruise.com.

FOLK ARTS CENTER: The center is at Milepost 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, 15 minutes from Asheville; 828-298-7928, www.craftguild.org.

INFORMATION: The Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau is at www.exploreasheville.com.

 

BY TOM UHLENBROCK St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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Mission Hospital Named Top 100 Heart Hospitals

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11/20/2007 - Mission Hospital Named Top 100 Heart Hospitals
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ASHEVILLE For the sixth year in a row, Mission Hospitals has been named one of the nations top 100 heart hospitals, becoming the only hospital in the Carolinas to make the list.

Were excited about it, said Dr. William Hathaway, a cardiologist with Asheville Cardiology. It proves that you dont have to go anywhere else for the best care.

The study, 2007 Thomson 100 Top Hospitals: Cardiovascular Benchmarks for Success, examined nearly 1,000 U.S. hospitals by analyzing outcomes for measures related to congestive heart failure, heart attacks, coronary artery bypass grafts and percutaneous coronary interventions, such as angioplasties.

If all cardiovascular hospitals achieved the same results as the 100 Top Hospitals award winners, according to the study, more than 7,000 lives would be saved and nearly 750 medical complications would be avoided annually.

This years study found the 100 Top Hospitals award winners had hospital stays that were 12 percent shorter, on average, than peer hospitals and costs that averaged 13 percent less per case.

Mission uses a team approach to heart health care, Hathaway said.

This is a very prestigious award in terms of what it represents in the clinical results that we deliver for our patients, said Merrell F. Gregory, Mission Hospitals spokeswoman.

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Neighborhood: Malvern Hills

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11/19/2007 - Neighborhood: Malvern Hills
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ASHEVILLE The Malvern Hills community, now a shady residential area, was part of Ashevilles resort scene in the 19th century.

The Sulphur Springs Hotel opened there in 1830 as the first health resort in the area. Later, it boasted the first electric passenger elevator in the South. After the hotel burned down in 1884, it was never rebuilt. The hotels property was later purchased by the Asheville School.

A railway ran between Asheville and the springs from 1889-94. But with the development of Haywood Road and the rise of the automobile, it became easier for people to commute to work downtown from the neighborhoods surrounding West Asheville.

Malvern Hills was developed in 1925 by N.M. Anderson, founder of Asheville School.

The area was named by Anderson, said Karen Loughmiller, of the West Asheville Library. It was probably named for the famous Malvern Hills district of England, known for its beauty.

Thomas Wolfe, a real estate investor, currently has a home listed for sale on Sulphur Springs Road. I like it very much, Wolfe said of the area. Its fabulous. For the most part its fairly low traffic and a mature neighborhood shady lots, big trees. It always seemed real quiet to me.

Wolfe says that a lot of the older residents in Malvern Hills are natives of the area, but as those homes begin to turn over, younger families from different areas are taking their places. If I lived in West Asheville, this would be the area I would live in, Wolfe said.

As you turn off busy Patton Avenue onto School Road, you enter an area that feels more like an estate than an urban neighborhood, with shady streets and a private feel. Malvern Hills recreation park and pool is a popular gathering spot, offering swimming and tennis. And Vance Elementary School holds a fall festival and puts on other activities throughout the year for children and the community.

Asheville Citizen Times

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The new downtowners:' More choose to live, play and cocoon in center of Asheville

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11/5/2007 - The new downtowners:' More choose to live, play and cocoon in center of Asheville
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ASHEVILLE Living between two grocery stores and amid a banquet of good restaurants, Susan Griffin has about everything her family needs to live downtown.

A resident of The Aston, a 14-condominium building on Church Street, she can walk to the French Broad Food Co-op on Biltmore Avenue or to the Grove Corner Market at the Grove Arcade. She takes her dry cleaning to Swannanoa Cleaners, not far away on Coxe Avenue.

I just rarely get in the car, she said.

The Griffins, who moved into their new home from Minneapolis three-and-a-half years ago, are one of the many new downtowners, recent transplants who have driven the surge in condo building in the central business district over the past few years.

Developers have built, begun or proposed at least 774 condo units in the last three to four years, according to a tally of the largest individual projects. The new and under-construction units range in price from the $100,000s to more than $1 million.

Urban energy

Ashevilles vibrant downtown life, which attracted the Griffins, was one reason why readers of Southern Living magazine named the city the Southeasts top mountain destination. Outside magazine this year called Asheville the best Southern city of its size.

Arts, food and a rich culture of people-watching make downtown attractive to retirees, baby boomers and young professionals looking for low-stress, high-excitement places to live.

By the end of 2001, 95 condominium units and 48 apartments were under development, heralding the beginning of a building boom that has likely added hundreds of part- and full-time residents to downtown, said Alan Glines, an Asheville city urban planner. The 2000 census revealed that 1,351 people lived in and around downtown, but it also included inmates at the Buncombe County Jail.

Since 2001, several projects have been completed (such as 66-unit Lexington Station), approved (the 23-story Ellington) or discussed (Ravenscroft, with 250 condos and 100 hotel rooms).

Downtowns real estate market remains hot despite the slump in housing prices nationwide, said Chuck Tessier of Tessier and Associates, a development service company that specializes in downtown properties.

With much of the interior of downtown built out, developers are beginning to look toward the southern end of downtown, buying property down Coxe Avenue that is home to warehouses and large open spaces.

If youre seeing a parking lot downtown, youre seeing an endangered species, Glines said.

Childless couples, young parents

Most of the new downtowners are childless, either retirees or younger couples and singles, Tessier said. Theyve primarily moved here from out of the area and, if they work, work in professions such as graphic design that require only a fat Internet connection.

When you see terrorism in the Northeast or wildfires in the Southwest, it fuels migration to places like Asheville, Tessier said. Were the high ground.

Rick Townley, 57, is typical of the new downtowners. Last summer, he moved into a one-bedroom, 950-square-foot unit at the Sawyer Motors building that he bought for under $300,000, he said. A single dad whose son had grown up, Townley, a business technology manager for a company in Florida, likes Asheville much better than Tampa, where he was living.

This is one of the most beautiful small cities Ive ever seen, and the people are phenomenal, Townley said. I truly hope that the influx of people like myself, I guess wont ruin whats here. I can walk almost everywhere. Close proximity to other people is to me more desirable than living alone on a mountaintop.

Though thousands of people work downtown, and hundreds visit the area each night, not all the new residents live there full-time.

Second homes

About a year ago, Stephanie Monson, in the city economic development office, looked at tax records and compared the addresses of the properties billed to the addresses of the people to be billed. She found that a third of the people who own residences downtown live somewhere else, making many of the downtown residences second homes.

When Public Interest Projects sold 18 units in the renovated Penneys building several years ago, eight went to people who wanted them as second homes, said Harry Weiss, Public Interest Projectss urban projects director.

Nathan Bests family is one of only six who live full-time in the 18-unit Oxford Place, near Barleys Taproom on Biltmore Avenue.

Weve got a young professional who lives in Spruce Pine and comes to Asheville on weekends, Best said. Weve got a coup le that operates an inn in the Bahamas and spends summers here. We have several baby boomer couples that are still working elsewhere.

Dashing to the store

Best, a commercial broker and developer, and his wife, Joan, arent typical of the new downtowners. Residents since February, theyre young parents. Every day that little Jackson has preschool, Joan Best takes him down the elevator and strolls him over to Central United Methodist Church, where hes enrolled.

Then, if need be, shell walk uptown to the Grove Corner Market for groceries. If its Wednesday or Saturday (and summer), shell walk down Biltmore Avenue for flowers and vegetables at the farmers market outside the French Broad Food Co-op.

Maybe shell walk to Pack Library to rent some movies for the family to watch at home. Every morning, she and her husband get coffee at City Bakery, not a block away from their front door. And at night, they get take-out from Mamacitas or Limones, nearby restaurants where they know the owners by name.

Its nice to see some businesses that cater to people that live downtown, Nathan Best said. The Eagles Market convenience store, right around the corner from Oxford Place and open late, means Best has a place to go if theres no beer in the fridge.

Words getting around, J. Neal Jackson said inside the Eagle Street store. He and his mother opened the store right before Bele Chere in summer 2006.

After a while, you recognize faces, Jackson said of his downtown regulars.

Across Eagle Street, Mamadou Gaye opened The Spot Convenience Store in 2006, and now most of his regular customers are downtown denizens who stop in for cigarettes and sundries.

Big city feel, small town appeal

Asheville looks pretty good to people in Atlanta, said Collin Ellingson, senior vice president of sales for Coldwell Banker The Condo Store, which is selling 75 or so units at 60 North Market.

Asheville has always enjoyed a pre-eminent place as a second-home market, Ellingson said. And that combined with the popularity of mountain communities right now, as far as national real estate, makes Asheville a very popular place to relocate.

Judy and Bob Swan were among the first wave of downtown dwellers when, 14 years ago, they moved into one of the eight condos at 21 Haywood St., one of the first significant condo projects downtown. She welcomes the influx of new neighbors and all the amenities that go along with having so many people, she said, such as the excellent restaurants, the grocery stores, all the interesting bars such as Vigne and the balcony bars at the Flat Iron building, which have the best view in town.

Community group

Shes a member of Downtown Asheville Residential Neighbors (www.darnonline.org), a community group that lists 25 different downtown addresses for members. Noise is about the biggest complaint association members talk about, Swan said. Otherwise, they love living in an energizing place.

You cant leave your door without seeing a merchant you know by name or another resident that you recognize, Swan said.

Identifying residents isnt hard, Swan said. Theyre the ones not carrying maps.

The Griffins are big music fans, and at least once a week theyll go somewhere downtown to hear it.

I just like the energy here, Susan Griffin said, and the fact that there are very good restaurants for a city this size, amazingly good restaurants. Asheville lives bigger than the actual size of the city. If you head out downtown almost any night, theres something going on.

by Paul Clark, PCLARK@CITIZEN-TIMES.COM published November 4, 2007 12:15 am

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Town And Mountain Realty Named One Of The Top Real Estate Companies In Asheville

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10/24/2007 - Town And Mountain Realty Named One Of The Top Real Estate Companies In Asheville
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 Town and Mountain Realty is proud to recieve the honor of being voted one of the top realty companies in Asheville by the readers of the Mountain Xpress. Thanks so much to our clients for all the support and we look forward to working even harder next year to be Asheville's top real estate company.

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Biltmore Village Condo Plan Recycles Industrial Building

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10/21/2007 - Biltmore Village Condo Plan Recycles Industrial Building
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What: Lofts at Mica Village.

Where: 75 Thompson St., on the eastern edge of Biltmore Village.

Who: Mica Village LLC, owned by Whit Rylee, Jon Sheintal and Regina Trantham, is developer and general contractor. Charlotte-based Reinhardt Architecture is handling architecture for the loft portion of the project.

What's There: A brick and metal industrial building on the property was once used to mill mica, a mineral found in the region. It contained "a huge, loud machine with furnaces and belts, and this big cloud of smoke came up," Rylee said. It was very much like out of Dr. Seuss. There was this 2-inch tube that you opened and it filled a 50-pound bad."

Behind that on the 3-acre site are two older metal buildings and a couple of modern metal buildings.

What's happening: Four loft-style condominiums in the main building have been completed and are occupied. Six more will be finished in coming weeks. They are selling in the low to mid-$200,000 range.

The older metal buildings will eventually be converted into office space, and the new ones will be torn down, Rylee said. Partners haven't decided what they will do with remaining open space on the proprty.

More Information: Contact Dana Wingate here at Town and Mountain Realty 232-2879 or visit micavillagelofts.com

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Asheville's New Tallest Building Approved

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10/18/2007 - Asheville's New Tallest Building Approved
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ASHEVILLE A vacant lot between an Asian restaurant and an empty building on Biltmore Avenue will be the site of the tallest building in Asheville.

The City Council gave developers of The Ellington hotel and condominium building the nod Tuesday, voting 6-1 to approve the 23-story building.

Developers had proposed to lower the downtown high-rise to 21 stories after hearing concerns about size, but council members said given all factors, the taller building was a better design.

The Ellington will be just taller than the current highest structure, the BB&T building.

The lone no vote came from Councilman Bryan Freeborn, who voiced concerns about traffic and pedestrian safety.

The project had drawn criticism from people who said it would be out of scale with surrounding two- and three-story buildings.

Pinky Zalkin, 58, of Kenilworth, was handing out green NO signs in front of City Hall before the meeting. The former real estate manager from Nevada City, Calif., said she didnt want Asheville to become overdeveloped like her last home.

Others, such as frozen custard storeowner Jim Kammann, said it was good to see tall construction in the center of town instead of sprawl on the outskirts.

We need to be perceived in this town as friendly to business, and I just hope that we do not send the wrong signal. Business is not bad, Kammann said.

The Ellington will stretch from Biltmore back to South Lexington Avenue to the west and Aston Street to the south. From above, the L shaped footprint would wrap around behind Doc Cheys Noodle House.

The Dallas-based Beck Group will develop the $85 million project with other partners, including the Grove Park Inn, a minor investor that will operate the hotel.

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Go Green, Make Money

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10/13/2007 - Go Green, Make Money
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Cutting greenhouse-gas emissions could add more green to North Carolinians wallets, researchers at Appalachian State University have found.

Preliminary results of a study in progress indicate that proposed state policies meant to reduce global warming could also add jobs.

Researchers looked at the potential economic ripple effect of implementing 31 of the 56 measures a panel recommended this month, graduate student David Ponder said in presenting his findings Tuesday to state lawmakers.

They estimate that the Climate Action Plan Advisory Groups proposals, ranging from more stringent building codes to forest preservation, could create more than 328,000 jobs by 2020.

The policies could end up boosting the income of North Carolinians by more than $14 billion. Labor-intensive new forestry and agriculture practices would require more jobs, Ponder said, while more efficient energy use would provide another economic boost.

Because your energy bill is less, youre spending more money on other goods and services in the economy, he said.

The estimates dont take into account new industries that might spring up as the demand for renewable energy develops.

Thats where the real money can be made, Rep. Charles Thomas, R-Buncombe said, with WNC uniquely positioned to make it because of residents desire for eco-friendly living.

Whoever successfully taps into the market for renewables will print money, Thomas said Tuesday while attending his first meeting since being appointed to the Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change.

It will make the Alaskan economy with the (oil) pipeline look like some kind of lemonade stand, Thomas said.

The possibilities described Tuesday were more modest, in comparison to an overall state economy in which workers in 2004 made about $250 billion in 5 million jobs, Ponder said. But he said it shows that curbing climate change, far from hurting the economy, can actually add jobs.

The conservative John Locke Foundation said proposals that would raise taxes and energy costs wont help the states economy.

If youre going to have new industries and jobs are created there, what an economist would say is, where are those jobs going to be diverted from? said Roy Cordato, the foundations vice president for research.

The advisory group says adopting all of its recommendations would cut projected 2020 emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by 47 percent, returning the emissions to 1990 levels.

The Appalachian State researchers will release a final report after predicting the effects of the advisory groups other recommendations, including state standards for auto emissions, on jobs.

The jobs created would be more stable for Western North Carolina residents than those in the tourism industry that now dominate the region, said UNC Asheville environmental studies professor Dee Eggers, another member of the legislative commission that will advise on which proposals should become law.

Eggers cautioned, though, that new careers cant flourish without new educational options.

We need to make sure people are trained to carry out these jobs, she said.

 

by Jordan Schrader, JSCHRADE@CITIZEN-TIMES.com

published October 24, 2007 12:15 am

 

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Haw Creek "Country In The City"

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News

10/5/2007 - Haw Creek "Country In The City"
by

HAW CREEK For most of its history, this farming communitys residents lived a mountain apart from city dwellers in Asheville.

Those wanting to get from the isolated valley to downtown first had to go in the opposite direction, following the Swannanoa River south and west to Biltmore Village and then taking Biltmore Avenue north into downtown. They might have taken a stagecoach from Millers store, which served as a stop for travelers for 80 years.

That changed when road builders blasted a tunnel through Beaucatcher Mountain in the late 1920s, creating Tunnel Road. The first subdivisions in the valley sprang up in the 1950s, said Realtor and Haw Creek resident Chris Pelly.

But the biggest change came 50 years later, when workers cut a swath for Interstate 240 in Beaucatcher Mountain in the early 1980s, Pelly said.

The change set off a development boom which continues to this day, with Haw Creek averaging about one new subdivision a year, he said.

But Pelly, who has lived with his family in Haw Creek for more than 15 years, and other longtime residents say the valley maintains much of its character and charm despite the influx of new construction, including many pricey homes.

Pelly said Haw Creek has a country-in-the-city feel. The main downside to the influx, he said, is that some amenities such as sidewalks havent accompanied new residents, though he is working to change that.

As president of the Haw Creek Community Association, I see a big part of my role as advocating for these improvements, he said.

Bob Jolly, 63, has lived in the valley since he was 18 months old, but he chuckles at being called a native.

The only thing a native is, is when someone kicks a rock over, we slide out, Jolly said.

His grandparents came to Haw Creek from Brevard in 1937 so his grandfather could find work as a carpenter. Jolly, who has worked in heating and air conditioning and real estate and development, said the area has changed, and he admits the changes are not always to his liking. The important things remain the same though, he said.

We havent really changed the climate. We still have the four seasons and weve always got the mountains to climb and the valleys, he said.

by Asheville Citizen Times

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