The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners voted to proceed with Phase 2 of the Ferry Road project study. The project, located on 137 acres of county-owned land in south Asheville, could be part of the county’s solution to the perceived affordable housing problem.

“The site will be home to an inclusive and affordable live, work and play community, which is surrounded and inspired by nature; has thoughtful connectivity and equitable access to transportation; has diverse recreational opportunities for health and wellness; and is a contributor to a vibrant economy by supporting industries that pay living wages,” stated a description of the study on the county’s website.

Further, the Board noted that the project is a chance to set an example for how development can look in Buncombe County and be a place that gives people a sense of pride.

To date, consultants have identified five different concepts for the project. Each addresses a mix of land uses, including single-family housing, missing middle housing, multi-family housing, commercial/industrial development, recreation and park space, and conserved space.

“The Ferry Road project will seek to create a mixed-use, mixed-income development that features affordable, workforce and market rate housing,” said Intergovernmental Affairs Director Tim Love. “This could include housing that is considered affordable to many different income levels (for example, ranging from 60% AMI to market-rate housing). The exact mix of incomes has not been defined at this point.

“The number of units is an estimate to give a sense of scale for the development. This is subject to change greatly based on the option selected, the density of the housing, and the types of housing stock (e.g., multi-family vs. missing middle). The current affordable housing estimate in the Phase 1 report is 20%, but this was only meant as a starting point for discussions. Again, based on the option selected, this percentage could greatly change.”

Concept A is for a low-density community scenario with a recreational emphasis. In this scenario, 50 to 70 single-family, small-lot detached homes and granny flats in a cluster-styled development would be built. The missing middle category would include 70 to 80 units of multiplexes and townhomes. Multi-family housing would consists of 170 to 230 units. Some 60 to 80 units of affordable housing are included in this scenario. In addition, 60,000 to 90,000 square feet of recreational-focused retail, commercial and specialized light industrial space is planned.

It is thought that 150 to 225 jobs would be created.

Concept B focuses on maximizing lower- to mid-density housing opportunities, including small-lot single family, accessory dwelling units, multiplexes, townhomes and walk-up apartments. In this scenario, 140 to 200 detached homes and accessory structures would be built in a cluster-style development. Another 140 to 180 multiplexes and townhomes would satisfy the missing middle category. There would be no multi-family homes. Approximately 60 to 80 units would be designated as affordable housing.

Some 8,000 to 10,000 square feet of small, stand-alone retail space would be built to service the neighborhood. It is anticipated that this scenario would create 30 to 40 jobs.

Concept C envisions a small-scale, live-work-play community that would feature a variety of housing types, including low, medium and, to a lesser degree, higher density units along with a moderate amount of storefront and mixed-use retail, boutique office space and a centralized mid-sized town green. In keeping with this concept, only 100 to 130 small-lot detached homes and granny flats would be built. In addition, an equal number of duplexes and townhomes are planned. The balance of the units would be multi-family with 180 to 250 medium density multifamily homes in addition to 25,000 to 40,000 square feet of neighborhood retail space.

Approximately 80 to 100 affordable housing units are included in the above totals. It is anticipated that this scenario would create 100 to 160 jobs.

Concept D is for a large-scale live-work-play community. The primary difference from Concept C is housing density. There would be no single family units in this concept. There would be fewer missing middle units and a significant increase in multi-family units with some 700 to 900 units being envisioned. Approximately 160 to 200 affordable housing units are included in this scenario. In addition, 60,000 to 90,000 square feet of local and destination retail is included.

It is anticipated that this scenario would create 240 to 360 jobs.

Concept E would create the fewest housing units but the most local jobs by focusing on building a small commercial or business park. Housing units would consist of only 80 to 100 multiplex and townhome units, 15 or 20 of which would be designated as affordable housing. The balance of the property would be dedicated to 12,000 to 15,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, 50,000 to 85,000 square feet of specialized flex/light industrial minor space and 100,000 to 160,000 square feet of specialized flex/light industrial major space.

It is thought that this approach would create 350 to 500 jobs.

In some sense, some of the stated goals of the project are in conflict.

For example, building the most industrial space and thereby promising the most jobs, means less housing onsite. Of all of the above concepts, Concept D appears to achieve the most goals. However, it should be noted that these concepts are possible approaches, not planned approaches. The final plans will be developed after receiving significant public input during upcoming meetings.

Much more information, including goal targets, planned land use by category and concept photos can be found on the county website, buncombecounty.org.

In addition, Kassi Day, public information officer for the county, said, “Buncombe County intends to work with neighboring homes, community organizations and the general public to get more input on the desired development option and ways the project can reflect the community’s needs. Buncombe County will post information on its website and work with our media partners to announce public presentation and feedback sessions.”

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