Woodfin – “This is going to be a major project,” said developer John Holdsworth who is looking to spend more than $500 million on a project in Woodfin, which will increase the town’s population by 50%.
Holdsworth is a Florida/North Carolina developer, but he also points out that he’s had a home here in Western North Carolina for about 17 years and loves the mountains. “I have a home up in Burnsville…I fell in love with the mountains of North Carolina and, I’ve always wanted to do a quality project and what we’re building has never been built in Asheville, ever.”
Holdsworth project is vast, including 1,545 residential rental units, 30 Victorian business/office buildings of about 1,000 square feet each, 4,000 square foot walkway for arts and crafts events, a $10 million bridge and a church. He said some of these are items the Town of Woodfin asked for to enhance the project. The project is projected to take about five years to finish.
“I’m not asking for anything other than what it’s already zoned for,” explains Holdsworth. The property is zoned for Mountain Village, a district that was under a moratorium for most of last year as it underwent a review and changes to the ordinance. However, Holdsworth applied and was granted a permit before the moratorium went into effect. As such, he would be allowed to construct the community under the old zoning rules rather than the new. The new zoning district rules would cut the number of units nearly in half. Once completed, Holdsworth said the project would generate about $1.5 million annual in property tax revenue for Woodfin.
Holdsworth explains that he met with Woodfin officials early on in the planning stage and they had encouraged him to build up not out, leaving a lot of the trees. “I said we understand that,” he said, “It cost more for us to do that, but the other thing we are going to do is eliminate surface parking.” The five-story multi-generational residential units will be built in the mixed-use development in what’s referred to as a Texas donut style, so the parking garages will be on the same level as the units reducing the need to walk up/down stairs for residents.
“The building is wrapped around it [the parking area], so you never see the parking garage. So when you park, you park at the same level as your home,” he said. “It’s more expensive to do, but what it does is eliminates all that surface parking and saves the trees,” Holdsworth said the parking garages alone is $46 million of the project’s cost.
The project has already caused an uproar in Asheville’s Richmond Hill residential community, which was manifested at the last Woodfin Commissioners’ meeting where the town was about to hear a voluntary annexation of 10 acres of land that would become part of the project (see story page 4)
“We’ve gone to a lot of extra work on this site, but this site deserves it. Because this site is a beautiful piece of land,” Holdsworth said. He explains that he even reduced the building’s height by 30 feet to “nestle” the building below the tree line. He says that that he wants a 1910s theme development. “We want something Woodfin can be proud of and will create lots of jobs…We’ll be pumping [into the area’s economy] a $100 million a year for five years.” Holdsworth describes a development that will complement the greenway/blueway that Woodfin has already started.
As the project begins, Holdsworth said that there would be access onto the property from the Richmond Hills community, with that access eventually becoming a secondary entrance once the bridge is built. He said the closest building would be 100 feet away from a property line. “we don’t want to be a bad neighbor…We want to be good neighbors with what we’re doing.”