Although the room was at capacity and some might have had an obstructed view, no one left the Doughnuts and Dialogue session last week without a clear understanding of Biltmore Farms’ vision for Biltmore Park Town Square. The vision of Jack Cecil for Biltmore Park: “It is all about creating a community, communities like we knew as children, where families can work, shop and recreate without leaving their neighborhood.”
Following the Doughnuts and Dialogue I had an opportunity to sit down with Mr. Cecil to learn more about their vision. Read what he had to say:
Chamber: Today’s program was entitled Biltmore Park: The Vision. Can you share with me how this vision came to be?
Cecil: This isn’t a new vision, it is an updated vision that my great grandfather had years ago when he built Biltmore Village. In the early 1900’s Biltmore Village had a train station, a church, a hospital, stores, apartments, and houses. It was a self sustaining community. Biltmore Park is nothing more than a modern day interpretation of that same community minded vision.
Chamber: Tell me how this vision will be carried out here in Biltmore Park Town Square?
Cecil: The build-out follows our company’s five tenents of community development: education, health care, economic development, arts & crafts/culture, and quality of life/environment. These five tenents have steered us to Town Square where business, art, recreation, living, and shopping are all conveniently located within a pedestrian friendly environment.
Chamber: Biltmore Park has seen much growth in the past few years but the planning for this started many years ago. How long have you had this vision?
Cecil: Biltmore Park opened in 1991 and has been growing ever since. In ‘97 and ‘98 we drew the plans for the mix-used urban community development that you see being built today. The construction of this phase of Biltmore Park began almost two years ago and will likely continue for another 12 months.
Chamber: One of your five tenents was Quality of Life/Environmental. Tell me about the efforts in that area?
Cecil: Making the best decisions and reducing our impact upon the environment has been a focus from day one. The whole concept of this community allows people to park their cars and walk to work or to the shops. We have protected our stream beds by preventing runoff through the use of above and below ground water storage systems. We built multilevel parking garages and mixed uses, such as apartments over retail, which reduced our footprint by over 25 acres. We crushed rock found on site and used it for our road beds. During the construction we have been sorting and recycling as much of our debris as possible. The Hilton® Hotel has applied for a LEED certification and will be equipped with solar panels and low flow faucets and toilets. The entire community is part of a national pilot program for LEED-ND (neighborhood development) certification. We are very proud of our environmental efforts.
Chamber: With all this new development, this should have a significant impact on the local economy and the job market? How many people do you anticipate being employed within the community?
Cecil: In the existing business park we already have over 500 people working in various companies. We expect that to double to around 1,000 people with another 400 plus working in the retail stores within Town Square. We have over 300 people working on the construction and management of the project alone.
Chamber: What does the future hold for Biltmore Park beyond what we see being built today?
Cecil: We would like to expand corporate technology, creating many high paying jobs for the community. There is contiguous land available for another 750,000 – 850,000 square feet of Class A office space. This is in addition to the 180,000 that already exists and the additional 90,000 that is being built right now.
Chamber: What about the impact on the local road and infrastructure?
Cecil: We are investing heavily in the local roads to make sure that accessing Town Square is easy. I-26 is being expanded to accommodate the additional traffic flow, new exit and entrance ramps are being paved and should be in use soon. We have a four lane road entering Biltmore Park that was designed to handle the traffic. Once on site there are four parking garages with over 2,000 and another 1,000 on street spaces-all free to the public. We are working with the city to secure public transportation from downtown to Biltmore Park Town Square.