Enka development on former BASF raises questions and faces hurdles

What will happen to the as-yet undeveloped portion of the 192-acre parcel in Enka that once was home to the former BASF plant? Developers hope to make a shopping center, with a big box store, on part of it; they’re tempting government officials with offers of ball fields, green space and parks.

But some key questions need answers.

What will be the costs to taxpayers for the projects? How would the public portion be funded? What contamination problems lurk on the land and in existing buildings?  There is a landfill that may contain hazardous waste on part of the land, and reportedly the deed for the AB Tech campus has restrictions due to existing contamination.

An article by Mark Barrett in the Asheville Citizen-Times, “Big Enka Project Unveiled,” gets interested residents started with a look at developer visions and initial regulatory hurdles.

Here are some items from the article:

“Developers have ‘talked to a lot of people,’ but do not have commitments from tenants yet,” said Ken Murphy, one of a group of local businessmen behind Enka Center.

“The proposal’s space for retail would amount to about one-half the size of Asheville Mall.”

“Even with the economy slowing retail construction, ‘All you need is one big-box store to come in and it’ll go,’” Murphy said.

“A portion of the BASF campus was deeded to Buncombe County for what is now AB Tech’s Enka campus.” …

“A greenway path would run along the south side of Hominy Creek. Developers would reserve at least 29 acres for open space, including some property adjoining Buncombe County Sports Park.” …

“Owners of the property are Fletcher Partners, Enka Partners of Asheville and Enka Water Control Corp. Principals involved developed the commercial portion of Biltmore Lake,” Murphy said.

“Asheville’s Technical Review Committee discussed the proposal Tuesday but delayed any action to allow more time to review a traffic study and get more information on other issues.

“It is tentatively scheduled to be considered by the city Planning and Zoning Commission on Aug. 19.”

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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism.

3 thoughts on “Enka development on former BASF raises questions and faces hurdles

  1. Phillip Gibson

    My hope is that they will look to supporting the small businesses that are currently developing through the Blue Ridge Food Ventures and other AB Tech based programs there in Enka. I do not like the idea of a “big box” coming and negatively impacting the existing local small businesses. The other item that is not discussed is the increased traffic flow on 19/23. Exit 44 is already problematic. Sandhill is troublesome and it is only getting worse. When I40 becomes obstructed, then 19/23 is the by-pass. This is in addition to the new exit slated from I40 to Liberty Road. The small subdivisions are not capable of handling this traffic volume. Widening is not an option as it urbanizes the rural nature of our community. I also feel this is going to lead to annexation by the City of Asheville. Lastly, will we continue to be Enka/Candler? Biltmore Lake has already stolen the zip code 28715 and is calling themselves a city (Biltmore Lake, NC) in the postal arena. I feel like we are losing our identity as a community.

  2. weavervilleman

    FYI: Walmart and Lowes came to weaverville and not a lot of stores and restaurants followed their lead. Doubt they will ever come too… Even though I support this, but I think that it will take more like 30 years or more before everything comes into play…

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