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?
Williams: 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.
Chamber: 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.