At the Tuesday, Oct. 6 Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting, the Board went into a mid-meeting closed session prior to discussing a resolution to allow the county to solicit bids for a $6.8 million Bent Creek property, which the county purchased from Henderson County this April.
The spring decision to purchase the property was intended to entice an Asheville expansion of Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery.
Before the matter could be discussed publicly, County Manager Wanda Greene asked the commissioners to go into closed session to discuss “new information” on the investment.
When the Board returned nearly an hour later, Commissioner Miranda DeBruhl said, “I would like to withdraw the resolution based on new information that has come to light.”
The Board unanimously accepted the withdrawal. The new information was not publicly discussed, but was enough to hold off any intent to sell.
Another property, located at 32 Compton Drive, however, received unanimous approval to solicit bids for its sale. The property, valued at $915,000, formerly housed a daycare facility and is close in proximity to Eliada Homes.
Buncombe County Schools Superintendent Tony Baldwin introduced a resolution to transfer a Buncombe County property to the newly formed Asheville Buncombe Educational Housing, LLC (owned by Eblen Charities) for teacher housing.
The State Employees’ Credit Union approached Buncombe County Schools in regard to affordable teacher housing, explained Baldwin. The SECU has already implemented teacher housing in Hertford County, Hatteras Island and Dare County.
The 4-acre property is centrally located (in relation to Buncombe schools) in the Erwin area, would be built by SECU and managed by Eblen under the LLC.
Baldwin expressed excitement for the new venture, saying that young professionals seeking educational work in Buncombe County often have a hard time with local housing prices. This will hopefully entice rarer specialized educators, such as those working in special education and STEM programs.
Executive Director of Eblen Charties Bill Murdock told commissioners that as soon as the property gets transferred, the organization will be able to move forward with the project, and “hopefully, we’ll be ready to move in this [coming] July.”
The Board approved the teacher housing project 7-0.
A-B Tech renovations
Pulled off the consent agenda for discussion, changes in the price to A-B Tech’s Rhododendron Building renovations caused concern for Commissioner Mike Fryar.
Original plans for the building’s renovation only reached $3 million, whereas the new price is listed as $7 million.
Greene explained that the original price was decided on about “five years ago,” and construction prices have gone up since then.
Fryar said he was concerned that these numbers were just “pulled out of the sky,” and he didn’t want that number to rise again down the road.
Commissioner Holly Jones told Fryar that she appreciated how he paid close attention to the numbers, but after hearing Planning Director Jon Creighton’s explanation for the heightened cost (gutting the current building and installing all new electrical equipment), she said that she was satisfied with that answer.
After some discussion, commissioners approved the project 7-0.
The new Rhododendron Building will house A-B Tech cosmetology, engineering and computer-aided design programs.
The next Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 4:30 p.m.