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ighland investors buy more property

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1/3/2013 - Highland investors buy more property
by Tony Kiss - Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE -- Owners and investors in Highland Brewing Co. have purchased the remainder of the old Blue Ridge Motion Pictures lot where the brewery is based.

There are no immediate plans, however, to expand the Highland operation, said company founder and president Oscar Wong.

Highland already controlled 70,000 square feet and 10 acres of the lot, and has added another 110,000 square feet and 30 more acres, Wong said. The purchase from former studio owner Leanne Campbell was made by a group called Clan Highland, composed of brewery owners and investors, Wong said.

The purchase price was about $2.5 million, which is about the same cost of Highland's move to the property in 2006, Wong said. The property was bought "so we have control of our own destiny" at the site, Wong said. Some of the property will continue to be leased to such companies as Troy & Sons distillery.

Highland has been working to buy the property for about two years but was delayed by site pollution issues, Wong said. "We have applied for and been accepted into the (federal) brownfields cleanup program," he said.

The property has had many uses over the years. It was once a ball bearings factory and later became the Girmes textile plant. It was used for production work on the locally filmed movies "The Last of the Mohicans" and "My Fellow Americans." In 2002, Blue Ridge Motion Pictures opened there.

The purchase comes during a busy time for brewing expansion in Asheville and Western North Carolina. In June, a group of investors, including Wedge Brewing owner Tim Schaller, purchased the Wedge building, which included the brewery and gallery space.

Sierra Nevada Brewing is building its East Coast expansion in Mills River near Asheville Regional Airport. New Belgium Brewing is cleaning up the former WNC Stockyards livestock market and will open its East Coast expansion brewery there in 2015.

Oskar Blues Brewing has already opened its expansion brewery in Brevard. And the new Wicked Weed brewery and restaurant has opened in a space that was once home to a gas station, an auto parts supply store and later a hardware shop.

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