Buncombe Commissioners vote to buy former Volvo site for $7 million

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously June 28 to purchase the former Volvo plant at 2169 Hendersonville Road for $7 million in taxpayer funds.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, county, city and state leaders have hinted that the purchase is part of a larger, multifaceted arrangement with a private employer to take over the site. And in the hours leading up to the vote, WLOS News 13 began reporting that the employer is Canadian-based Linamar Corporation, a large manufacturer of engines, transmissions and drive trains.

However, commissioners’ lips were sealed at the meeting, where they neither confirmed nor denied the report (In previous interviews with Xpress, commissioners have said they’re bound by a confidentiality agreement).

Instead, commissioners and county staff touted the purchase in general terms, praising it as a needed economic development measure to preserve the site for manufacturing jobs rather than allowing it to be used for residential or retail space. County Attorney Michael Frue also assured commissioners that the county has “undergone an exhaustive due diligence to make sure the site is in good shape.” However, he admitted that “anytime you make a big business decision, you take a big risk.”

Asheville resident and longtime businessman (and regular commentator for Xpress) Jerry Sternberg helped clarify those possible risks during a public hearing on the matter, reporting that if the county doesn’t have a larger deal in the works, the purchase “could be very dangerous” because maintaining the massive 65 acre site and 405,108 square-foot building could cost between $300,000 to $500,000, a year, according to his calculations.

However, he noted that the $7 million price tag was an “excellent deal” based on his valuation of the property, and added that if the plan to bring several hundred jobs to the area comes to fruition it would be a huge boon to the county.

Other residents echoed Sternberg’s mix of hopes and concerns.

Candler resident Jerry Rice thanked the commissioners for their “great efforts to bring jobs here,” but went on to ask them for more details related to the reported deal.

“If a company is wealthy enough to operate at a site this big, why can’t they afford to buy and operate this property without government assistance?” he asked, adding: “How many skilled workers are we talking about? How much money do they take home?”

Pisgah Forest resident Lisa Landis also pleaded with commissioners for more information.

“Why would you be the go-between, why would the county commissioners be the middle men” between the site and a private company? she asked.

No further details were forthcoming from the commissioners, but board Chair David Gantt thanked citizens for their “great questions.” He has said a major announcement at the June 30 Asheville Chamber of Commerce meeting would help clarify further details surrounding the purchase.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

2 thoughts on “Buncombe Commissioners vote to buy former Volvo site for $7 million

  1. dpewen

    What is a tweet? I think the city should purchase this property … 7 mil is not a lot of money!

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.