ASHEVILLE - Three developers have requested to build separate projects in the Arden area comprising more than 800 housing units, including apartments and townhomes.
Florida-based Ambach Communities LLC wants to build 497 units at 2177 Brevard Road in Arden, according to application documents. Of these, 256 would be apartments, 179 would be townhomes, 60 would be multi-family housing and two would be single-family homes. There would be about 35 structures on more than 42 acres.
The development, called "Creekside Community," would also include a clubhouse and pool.
More development projects on the horizon in Asheville, Buncombe:
Roughly three miles south at 1754 Brevard Road developer Indiana-based Oscar Land Acquisitions LLC wants to build 244 apartments comprising 10 different buildings on roughly 22 acres. That project is called "Brevard Road Apartments," according to application documents.
Another 70 townhomes are planned for 642 Long Shoals Road, where South Carolina-based Deep River South Development plans to build 70 townhomes on about 7 acres. Application documents call this project "Clayton Crossing."
"Buncombe's got a great rental market and housing market in general," said Scott Gillespie, principal and founder of Deep River. "I live in Greeneville and do a lot of work down here, but Asheville has always been in my eye as a great market to try to do this stuff in."
He noted Asheville has "a limited supply of buildable sites."
Applicants for the other projects did not immediately return phone calls, text messages and an email.
The projects will go to the Buncombe County Board of Adjustments July 13 and, if they are approved, head to Buncombe County Planning staff for further review. Each project is seeking a special use permit for a planned unit development.
County staff recommends approval of each project with several standard conditions, according to the applications.
Each project plans to have a dog park and internal sidewalk system. None of them show requirements for affordability. That means they likely will not go toward Buncombe County Board of Commissioners goal to help create about 3,000 units of affordable housing in the county by 2030.
County planning and leadership already are working with developers and landowners on several projects to make this a reality, but they don't really have a way to push developers toward building affordable units.
"I don't have a mechanism to require them to have affordable units," Buncombe County Planning Director Nathan Pennington said. "We do have the community-oriented development program which awards extra density if affordable units are supplied, but (the three developers) did not elect to utilize that provision of the zoning ordinance."
According to the Bowen National Research report, the gap in Buncombe's rental housing based on the number of units needed is one of the worst in the state. Though the county has just more than 15,000 multifamily rental units, it needs more than 4,800 for families below 80% AMI alone, according to one model.
According to a Department of Housing and Urban Development scale for the Asheville Metro area, which encompasses Buncombe, Henderson and Madison counties, the 2021 fiscal year 80% AMI for a family of four is about $60,100 and the 60% AMI for a family of four is about $45,300.
Though the 800 new units developers want to bring to Arden may not be affordable, Pennington said more units in Buncombe has the potential to bring down prices. .
"I will say that more supply eventually helps with overall costs," he said.
Buncombe also is in the middle of its 2043 Comprehensive Plan, an initiative designed to assess the county's growth trajectories and needs and make changes where necessary.
That process has the ability to change local ordinances, Pennington said.
"There will be goals objectives and policies that will further decide what are called 'exactions': what we want to see in projects. And once those are defined... I predict that a lot of our development ordinances will change and will probably speak to some affordable housing requirements in the future. We just don't have those defined at this time."
All of the units planned for Board of Adjustment review July 13 are listed as "units for rent" and none of them for sale.
Documents note management of the properties may be contracted out to another company.
Andrew Jones is Buncombe County government and health care reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter, 828-226-6203 or [email protected]. Please help support this type of journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.