County Commissioners to consider rent restructuring at stalled Eagle Market Place development

A multi-use project for downtown Asheville's the Block has been stalled out but hopes to resume construction soon. Photo by Dan Hesse

In its first meeting since approving the county budget in June, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will return to action Tuesday, Aug. 2. Commissioners will consider a rezoning request and whether to allow a decrease in affordable housing units for a mixed-use development. They will also vote on a variety of board appointments.

A troubled project, initially announced when Terry Bellamy was mayor of Asheville, will be back before commissioners as the developers of Eagle Market Place request permission to reduce the number of affordable housing units in the project from 62 to 32-38.

EMP’s mixed-used project, under construction in downtown’s historically African-American neighborhood known as the Block, is a partnership between the nonprofit Mountain Housing Opportunities and Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation. In 2012, the project received $7 million from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency, $3.3 million from the city of Asheville and a loan worth $300,000 from the county with the promise of an additional $2 million loan after construction is complete.

The project got off to a rocky start when a newly poured foundation cracked and was deemed structurally unsound, which in turn led to an approximately $4.5 million higher price tag. To help offset the additional cost, EMP developers are asking for approval of a restructured rent rate. Developers state they need to get construction back on track before the cost of materials rises any further. They say the request “is the way to move forward without asking for additional county funds,” according to documents provided to the county. Developers also state they’ve incurred an additional $3 million in debt service, due to construction delays.

Asheville City Council approved the new rates last November. You can view a full list of the restructured rates here.

Commissioners will also hold a public hearing concerning the rezoning of 7.5-acres of land, located at the intersection of Kennedy and Clarks Chapel roads in Weaverville, from R-3 to CS (commercial service district). The county describes CS as “primarily intended to provide suitable locations for clustered commercial development to encourage the concentration of commercial activity in those specified areas with access to major traffic arteries, to discourage strip commercial development and to allow for suitable noncommercial land uses.”

The Planning Board and county staff are recommending approval of the rezoning request. You can view a footprint of the area here.

Commissioners will vote on the following board appointments:

  • Agriculture Advisory Board (1 vacancy)
    Alan Lang
  • Health and Human Services Board (1 vacancy)
    Jim Pitts
  • Airport Authority (1 vacancy)
    David Gantt
  • Tourism Development Authority (1 reappointment)
    Leah Ashburn
  • School Capital Fund Commission (2 vacancies)
    Joe Belcher
    Ellen Frost
    Brownie Newman
    Carol Peterson
    Scott Gardner
    Murphy Doty
  • Adult Care Home Community Advisory Committee (6 vacancies)
    Toya Hauf
  • Nusing Home Community Advisory Committee ( 4 vacancies)
    Karen Campbell

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will meet at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2. You can view the full agenda here.

 

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About Dan Hesse
I grew up outside of Atlanta and moved to WNC in 2001 to attend Montreat College. After college, I worked at NewsRadio 570 WWNC as an anchor/reporter and covered Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners starting in 2004. During that time I also completed WCU's Master of Public Administration program. You can reach me at dhesse@mountainx.com.

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5 thoughts on “County Commissioners to consider rent restructuring at stalled Eagle Market Place development

  1. John

    Once the bond referendum passes, the city of Asheville can give them more money to squander on this pet project.

  2. luther blissett

    This is one of the reasons why I’m not convinced by the affordable housing component of the city bond: if you put control in the hands of private developers and something goes wrong. then you become responsible for any mess without having had a say in decisions that created the mess. Projects go right more often than they go wrong, and MHO does good work, but the risk profile changes when you’re working with borrowed money.

    EMP has been a cluster-you-know-what since the concrete pouring failed. Apparently, the developers got $1.5m in an insurance settlement because of the mess, but that’s only a third of the cost to get it right the second time. Huh? Maybe there’s no further financial recourse, but it’s not a good situation, and the alternative with no funds might be to level the site. Ugh.

    There’s no good fix here, and If I were on the county commission, I’d want the developers at very least to commit to an aggressive timeline for switching “workforce” rents back to “affordable” once their loan obligations are met. Another option might be for the city and county to request ownership stakes in the building, but that might not work with the private loan that’s needed to complete the project.

  3. Agree with Luther on this one, with a minor qualification. EMP was a basket case well before this concrete was poured. They can’t run a one car parade.

    This project was poorly conceived with the city throwing in a ton of money and the county very little. Seemingly impossible, but the execution was even worse.

    The area from here through the art museum should be renamed The Sink Hole.

  4. MMH

    ‘we all knew’ this would be a total mess from the start with MILLION$ wasted on the backs of the taxpayers by one Terry Bellamy and her bunch of LOSERS who controlled this sh ite …figgers.

    • Lulz

      Yo, you be raciss because Belamy broke the glass ceiling. Problem is she’s woefully inept, incompetent, and ignorant.

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