ULI Carolinas Regional Initiative Councils (RIC)—the Carolina Trends Council, Young Leader Council and Rethinking Southern Cities Council—descended on Asheville, NC in August to learn about Asheville’s market dynamics, development trends and successful public private partnerships.
The cooler mountain weather was a welcome respite from the piedmont and coastal heat. With the addition of excellent craft beers along with interesting tours and programs, the meeting was deemed the most successful RIC gathering to date.
Program highlights from each of the RICs includes:
- Presentation and discussion with Jack Cecil, long-time ULI member and great-grandson of George W. Biltmore, founder of Biltmore Farms and builder of the Biltmore House. Jack described how the family business has stuck close to its five core principles while expanding its portfolio into mixed-use, hotel and residential projects. It was a fascinating, candid peek into one of America’s most famous families.
- Walking tours and a history lesson of downtown Asheville development from Joe Minicozzi, principal of Urban3. Joe presented an overview of Asheville’s development history, redevelopment struggles and an overview of the controversial Aloft Hotel project. View Presentation
- Aloft Case Study: Four parties involved in the Aloft Hotel’s complex development – Mayor Esther Manheim, Cathy Ball, Assistant City Manager, Pat Whalen, Principal of Public Interest Projects and John McKibbon, CEO of McKibbon Hospitality discussed their unique perspectives on the project, the oftentimes competing desires of the community, and the opportunities and challenges of structuring such a complex deal.
- P3 Highlights: Ben Teague and Clark Duncan of the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County shared details about the bidding and recruiting of New Belgium Brewery to Asheville. Discussing the very public consideration of Asheville in locating their newest brewery and the importance of lifestyle and sustainability, the nation’s third largest craft brewer, New Belgium Brewing, opened its east coast brewery in 2016, reclaiming a site next to Asheville’s River Arts District (RAD). Their presence in the RAD has spurred continued growth an interest in future development along the French Broad River.
- New Belgium Brewery Tour and Presentation: Gabe Quesinberry, Operations Manager at New Belgium, provided tours of New Belgium’s beautiful new brewery operations on the French Broad River and discussed everything from site selection, economic development incentives, construction challenges, operations to, of course, beer making.
- River Arts District (RAD): Catalyst projects such as the Wedge Brewery, the famous 12 Bones BBQ highlighted the discussion and lunch. From creating a unique use for industrial buildings to cultivating an artist community, the RAD offers a story of potential in a quickly-changing area composed of a rail yard and old industrial buildings. Stephanie Monson Dahl of the City of Ashville shared budget and plans for cultivating the growth of the area.
- Sierra Nevada Brewery Tour: Amanda Huskin, Operations Manager at Sierra Nevada’s Mills River Brewery provided a tour of Sierra Nevada’s east coast headquarters and shared insights on how Sierra Nevada—a family owned and operated company based in Chico, California—selected the 200-acrea site 10 miles south of Asheville for their east coast operations. Criteria considered included access to major highways, proximity to a college or youth-oriented community, a community with a recreational culture, a strong sanitary sewer system and water sources. Sierra Nevada also wanted a site that wouldn’t “butt up against” other craft brewers. The $108-million brewery in Mills River opened in 2014 and employs nearly 200 people.