Oregon’s largest brewery, Deschutes, chose Roanoke Virginia to be its new east-coast distribution base instead of Buncombe County, despite a fervent effort from the county’s governing body to woo the company. The project was slated to be on a similar, if smaller, scale from the massive and just finishing up River Arts District, New Belgium Brewing facility. Last year, County Commission Chairman David Gantt led the charge to purchase a large swathe of land from Henderson County as part of a serious negotiation to locate the Decheutes brewery and distribution center in south Buncombe.
Deschutes led several cities across the southeast in a chase, including Greenville and Charleston, SC. But the final cut seemed to be down to Asheville and Roanoke, Va. Today, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Deschutes executives announced that the brewery had made its choice and would be locating at a business park near a golf course.
Roanoke previously had pursued Sierra Nevada and Stone, but was unsuccessful on both attempts. At last partly through a public outpouring of community support and thirst for the project the central Va. city has gained a well respected large craft brewery.
So, for now, it seems Asheville has to settle for the outstanding collection of local and national breweries already assembled in the area.
Chairmain Gantt released a set of comments today congratulating Roanoke. Unsurprisingly, as losing the battle for first place is always a little heartbreaking to those with a vested interest, he wrote with a disheartened yet determined tone on the next steps for the Ferry Rd. property acquired with Deschutes in mind as a buyer. He gave some history on the reasoning and intentions for the buy as well as some thoughts on next steps saying, “My belief that the purchase was a good move for Buncombe County remains in place despite the disappointing decision by Deschutes. The Ferry Road property is one of the last large parcels suitable for economic development left in our County. Buncombe County essentially bought and now owns a prime piece of developable land for half price. We will be good stewards of the land and make sure the group that buys the property from us fulfills our policy of job creation and economic progress while honoring all environmental requirements on the land.”
Gantt’s full comments:
At our April 7, 2015 meeting, the majority of the Buncombe County Commission voted to purchase the Ferry Road property from Henderson County for a total of $6.8 million with a net $3.4 million cost. Pertinent parts of the Resolution approving the purchase read:
RESOLUTION APPROVING THE PURCHASE OF REAL PROPERTY FOR AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
….WHEREAS, Buncombe County has been working with a potential economic development partner which is considering expanding its operations into Buncombe County and this project requires a large tract with nearby highway access; and
WHEREAS, in accordance with NCGS §158-7.1, a county may acquire, assemble, and hold for resale property that is suitable for industrial or commercial use; and
WHEREAS, Henderson County is the owner of that certain tract or parcel of land containing 137.21 acres…
WHEREAS, the property recently appraised for $6,815,000 and Buncombe County has made an offer in the amount of the appraised value and Henderson County has accepted this offer; and
WHEREAS, Buncombe County proposes to appropriate and spend from its general fund $6,815,000 to acquire the fee simple interest in this property; and
WHEREAS, in accordance with an Inter-Local Agreement between Henderson County and the City of Asheville the net cost to Buncombe County will be $3,407,500;
The intent of the purchase was to continue our recruiting efforts to become the East Coast brewery and distribution center for Deschutes Brewery of Bend, Oregon. We have been in very intense negotiations with them for several months and understood that the Ferry Road site enabled us to continue in the quest for the relocation site. The April 7, 2015 Commission meeting minutes note the following:
Chairman Gantt said that this was a five way win—the transaction could bring more jobs and another good company to the County; if the company goes somewhere else, the County could keep the property that could be sold; the County gets money toward the public safety facility; the County resolves a decades old dispute between Henderson and the City of Asheville.
On October 6, 2015, the Commission considered a resolution that directed the Manager to solicit bids to sell the Ferry Road property. This Resolution was withdrawn from consideration by Commissioner DeBruhl based on “new information” received by a 7- 0 vote.
With the recent announcement by Deschutes to create an East Coast distribution facility in Roanoke, VA, our Plan A for the property is eliminated. We must move on the Plan B, which involves both (1) continuing to show the property to get a strong business in the site to fulfill our commitment to use the property to create jobs and more economic benefit for the taxpayers who now own the site AND (2) considering a direct sale of this property.
My belief that the purchase was a good move for Buncombe County remains in place despite the disappointing decision by Deschutes. The Ferry Road property is one of the last large parcels suitable for economic development left in our County. Buncombe County essentially bought and now owns a prime piece of developable land for half price. We will be good stewards of the land and make sure the group that buys the property from us fulfills our policy of job creation and economic progress while honoring all environmental requirements on the land.
The lesson from Deschutes’ decision has been preached by economic specialists for years. A unified community can land economic prospects they never should have been able to secure, while a divided community will lose prospects they should have gotten.
Buncombe County congratulates Roanoke on this announcement and wishes the best success and prosperity for the Deschutes facility in that community.
Chairman of Buncombe County Commission