Monday, November 24, 2008

What does the future hold for Biltmore Village?

Asheville’s historic Biltmore Village has seen a surge in growth over the past year. Much of this growth has to do with the retail and commercial property development by Hill Partners. Hill Partners is a commercial real estate firm that specializes in shopping center and mixed use developments. Hill Partners has recently brought Curtis Williams in to manage the property and their future plans for development in Biltmore Village. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Curtis last week and interview him on the future of Biltmore Village and what plans Hill Partners has for the area.

Chamber: Welcome to Asheville Curtis, how are you settling in?

I have been in town for about two months and am really enjoying it. I visited Asheville in my childhood and worked on the leasing of the Asheville Mall several years ago, so I was already familiar with the community. Asheville is exciting, we are getting lots of press, retailers, restaurants, and hotels are rediscovering Asheville. It is a busy time in the community.

Chamber: Hill Partners is developing properties all over the country, what attracted Hill Partners to the Biltmore Village and Asheville?

Williams: There is a terrific residential area surrounding Biltmore Village and the number of tourist that visit the area is amazing. Per capita Asheville is one of the most productive cities in the state. The retail stores that have moved into 10 Brooke Street have had 15 – 50 % increases over projections, since May of 2008.

Chamber: What distinguishes this Hill Partners project from others?

Williams: Hill Partners is well known as a developer of upscale mix use lifestyle space projects. They have tremendous experience with urban mix use projects. Here in Biltmore Village we have been able to weave development ideas into the local community, allowing them to fit into the historical nature of Biltmore Village.

Chamber: What non retail spaces do you have available for the business community of Asheville?

Williams: Above our retail stores we have 31,000 square feet of Class A office space available. The space provides tenants with a great environment close to retail and restaurant. We are currently working with a number of business interested in the space and we should be outfitting the space for them very shortly. We are targeting, financial firms, medical groups, law offices, CPAs, insurance groups, and hoping to mix those with other professional groups like technology based companies.

Chamber: What separates your property from other office spaces in the area?

Williams: There are many advantages to working in the Biltmore Village area. We are excited to offer free parking, which has solved a long concern of Biltmore Village merchants. We have over 160 secure spaces under our shops. Biltmore Village is one of the most pedestrian friendly areas of Asheville, there are over 20 cafes and restaurants withing walking distance and the 7 hotels.

Chamber: What are the future plans for the Phase II and Phase III of the Biltmore Village projects?

Williams: Our next phase will be Phase II 31,000 retail space with parking, set to open in fall of 09.

Obviously Hill Partners has a vested interest in the success of the Biltmore Village area. What changes and improvements do you see on the horizon for that area?

Williams: We see it becoming a regional and national destination piggy backing off the success of the Biltmore estate. We hope that Biltmore Village becomes a top destination for retailers, restaurateurs, hotels, offices, and residential space.

Chamber: What value do you see the Chamber providing to the business community of Asheville?

Williams: The Asheville Chamber of commerce provides great support and is engage with the business community with networking opportunities and driving the message that Asheville is a great place to be and will continue to be a great place.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Seasonal Sizzle in Asheville

-- Asheville Announces 21 Days of Not-So-Silent Nights --

Holiday nights in downtown Asheville get a glitzy makeover this December with Asheville Seasonal Sizzle: 21 days of not-so-silent nights. Merrymakers will enjoy free fireworks, live entertainment, seasonal appetizer specials at local restaurants, and extended hours of evening shopping in downtown Asheville’s eclectic boutiques and craft galleries.

Weekend firework displays–Seasonal Sizzle at Seven–will take place on Saturdays, Dec. 6, 13 and 20 at 7 p.m. in downtown Asheville. Participating independent restaurants will feature “Appy Hour” appetizer specials on Thursdays, Dec. 1 through 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. Local restaurants will also offer “Sizzle Specials” on the Saturday evenings with fireworks (Dec. 6, 13 and 20). 

Asheville visitors will receive a warm holiday welcome as “Downtown Docent” guides walk the downtown streets directing guests to Seasonal Sizzle festivities, holiday happenings and other points of interest.

After the fireworks, visitors are encouraged to enjoy live music, theater and dance performances including the Warren Haynes Christmas Jam, Asheville Ballet’s Nutcracker and holiday theater performances at North Carolina Stage Company, Diana Wortham Theater and Asheville Community Theater.

Visit for details.


Calendar Briefs: Free & Fun 2008 Holiday Events

Free Events

  • Asheville Seasonal Sizzle: Enjoy 21 days of not-so-silent holiday nights as Asheville's nightlife explodes with holiday magic during Seasonal Sizzle in December. Merry makers will enjoy holiday firework displays, live entertainment, “Appy Hour” appetizer specials at local independent restaurants, and extended hours of evening shopping in downtown's eclectic boutiques and craft galleries. Seasonal Sizzle at Seven Fireworks: Saturdays, Dec. 6, 13 & 20 at 7 p.m.
  • National Gingerbread House Competition: The National Gingerbread Competition at Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa attracts competitors from around the country who create colorful confectionary and architectural wonders. Delight in the imagination shown in these creations from sugar-and-spice castles to gum-drop covered chimneys. Nov. 17 to Jan. 11
  • Giant Puppets on Parade & Singing Santa: Asheville gets decked out for the holidays with a family-friendly parade where giant locally-crafted puppets will march the streets of downtown Asheville. Lisa Sturtz of Red Herring Puppets has created larger-than-life creatures for the likes of Disney, Jim Henson Productions and The Ice Capades. After the parade, Singing Santa will croon and greet children before collecting his mail from the North Pole Express Mail Box at Prichard Park. Nov. 22 at 11 a.m.
  • Dickens in the Village:  Historic Biltmore Village transforms into a quaint Victorian village on the first weekend of December. Horse-drawn carriages will trot along decorated streets as carolers, storytellers and instrumentalists stroll the village in period costumes. Watch live excerpts from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol performed by the Montford Park Players while enjoying fresh roasted chestnuts. Dec. 5 to 7
  • Big Deals on Appalachian Crafts:  Bargain shoppers receive the ultimate gift at the annual Southern Highland Craft Guild's Holiday Seconds Sale held at the Folk Art Center. Just before the gift-giving season, Appalachian crafters from across the region place overrun, discontinued stock and studio seconds on sale for one day of festive holiday savings. Get up to 50% off pottery, jewelry, woodwork, glass art, furniture and more from some the region's finest artisans. Dec. 6

Holiday Traditions

  • Santa Climbs Chimney Rock:  Before he climbs down millions of chimneys around the world, Santa practices on 315-foot Chimney Rock. Soak in the park’s 75-mile views as Santa rappels down this famous Blue Ridge Mountain monolith. Dec. 6 & 13
  • America’s Castle by Candlelight:  Lit by candles, firelight and twinkling Christmas trees, George W. Vanderbilt’s Biltmore House glows during the holidays. America’s largest home dazzles with dozens of Christmas trees; hundreds of wreaths, bows and poinsettias; miles of evergreen garland; thousands of ornaments, tinsel, and beading; and a magnificent 35-foot Fraser fir. Nov. 7 to Jan. 4
  • All Aboard! The Polar Express:  The Polar Express comes to life when the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad departs Bryson City for a journey to the North Pole. Read along with the magical story, meet Santa and enjoy holiday caroling, hot cocoa and a special present for Santa’s believers. Nov. 7 to Dec. 23

Monday, November 10, 2008

How can the Chamber better serve you?

Open thread: How can the Chamber better serve you? Is there something that we can be doing better, or doing more of? We want to know.

Write a comment on the blog to let us know how we can better serve you!

New VP of the EDC

The Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County (EDC) and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce announce the appointment of Benjamin P. Teague as Senior Vice President of Economic Development.

Teague is currently serving as Vice President of Economic Development with the Area Development Partnership (ADP) in Hattiesburg, MS and previously worked with the Mississippi Technology Alliance (MTA) in Ridgeland and Jackson, MS.

Teague is considered a new model economic development professional with experience in high-tech and niche recruitment, sustainable growth, public/private partnerships, innovative financing and strategic planning. In addition, he is schooled in the fundamentals of retention of existing industry and business, advanced manufacturing recruitment and start-up businesses.

“Ben is a highly motivated and articulate professional that will be an asset to our economic development program,” said Robert Sipes, Chairman of the EDC and Vice President-Western Region with Progress Energy. “Ben’s skills are a perfect complement to the present staff as the EDC assumes more responsibility for initiatives identified through the HUB Alliance effort,” said Richard J. Lutovsky, President & CEO of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.

“I am looking forward to joining an excellent economic development organization and being a part of the Asheville area’s growth and development,” said Teague.

Teague has a B.S. from Mississippi College where he played football and an MBA with honors from the University of Mississippi. He has been certified as an Economic Development Financial Professional (EDFP) and will sit for the Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) exam later this year.

Teague’s start date is December 10, 2008.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Local jobs picture brightens slightly in September

Taken from the Mountain Xpress Website. Read the full article at

After a few months of steadily worsening job news, the Asheville metro area’s unemployment rate declined in September, according to the latest N.C. Employment Security Commission statistics.

The metro area (Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood and Madison counties) saw the rate dip to 5.2 percent from 5.5 percent in August. That rate tied with Durham for lowest in the state among metro areas.

In the four-county metro region, only Haywood saw an increase, from 5.6 to 5.7 percent. Buncombe held steady at 5.1 percent unemployment. The sectors in the Asheville metro area with the biggest job gains in September were: Government (2,100); Educational and Health Services (400); and, Trade, Transportation and Utilities (100)