Developer Makes Concessions, Details Bankruptcy

An artist rendering of one of the residential units.

Woodfin – Ever since The Bluff’s development in Woodfin was announced, it has been under attack, mainly by Asheville’s Richmond Hills residents worried about traffic and the environmental impact of the project. 

Developer John Holdsworth is listening to residents’ griefs. He received phone calls and emails, saying he is spending anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes on each call, answering questions and explaining the project to concerned residents. 

“I’d rather talk to these people one on one,” said Holdsworth after missing a Zoom meeting initiated by about 35 Richmond Hills homeowners. He stated he was traveling when he got the late notice of the meeting he was invited to attend.

He also addressed a 2011 bankruptcy in Burnsville known as Eagle Crest at Sharp Top. The 148-acre tract of land was listed on the bankruptcy papers as having a $1.65 million value. 

Asked about the cause of the failure of the project, Holdsworth told the Tribune, “That was like 2008 when the economy went down. We were going to single-family homes on it and had plans for it and everything cashed in ‘08.” 

Among the numerous failed developments after 2008’s crash, Woodfin had several projects that tanked.

Asked what guarantees he could offer those concerned that something similar wouldn’t happen at The Bluffs? 

“At this point in time, we have the equity. We have the finance put together, I mean, unless this economy goes into a depression or recession, there’s no reason this property will not be extremely successful,” Holdsworth says.

Stormwater Runoff

Holdsworth also met with Hartwell Carson, the French Broad River Keeper. 

He said, “There were a couple of things, one was the proper treatment of the stormwater,” which Carson referred him to the New Belgium Brewery stormwater runoff system, which went above and beyond state and federal regulations. Holdsworth said he did go by and look at it. He say Carson told him to give him a call when he got to that stage of development.

The Tribune called Carson, who confirmed the meeting and said it was helpful to walk the property and go over the plans with Holdsworth. Asked his reaction since the meeting, Carson said, “Well, it all depends on what he does, and it’s too early in the process to really know and I told John the same thing.” Carson said he did tell Holdsworth about the New Belgium Brewery. 

Carson said the current rules about stormwater “just aren’t very good and Buncombe County has recognized that…there are ways he can protect the river better. It’s what’s called green infrastructure. He did express an openness to looking into that.”

“I think on those three things… the bridge being a condition of the infrastructure and making sure the buffers are sufficient, I would feel better about it [the project].” 

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