Statewide: Western region, February 2015

 In 2015-02

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Mountain jam

Lots of people want to live in Asheville, helping make it one of the state’s hot spots for housing. But development hasn’t kept pace as the city’s population increased 40% since 1990 to about 87,000 people. “It’s clear to us from a number of statistical and anecdotal sources that we have a very significant housing deficit in the city,” interim Planning Director Alan Glines says. “It’s a deficit that is particularly acute for working households.” While the mountain town doesn’t want to lose the vibe that helps make it so popular, city officials recently approved a plan to allow more residential units in 12 commercial districts. The number of new units allowed varies by district, but the city estimates that if 10% of vacant land gets developed, more than 2,300 new apartments and condos would be added. Increasing density is more important after the N.C. General Assembly passed a law in 2012 limiting the ability of cities to force annexations that can help boost the tax base. To make more housing available for brewmasters, teachers and other creative types, the city is offering incentives for builders who make 20% of units affordable by federal standards. The median value of Asheville homes was $202,700 in November, 38% higher than the state’s median and almost a third pricier than the Charlotte metro area, according to real-estate researcher Zillow. Median rent of $1,125 a month is 13% higher than the state average. Opposition to the plan has been minimal because residents understand more housing is needed, says Jeff Staudinger, assistant community and economic development director. “Our existing businesses are very clear that housing costs in this community provide, at times, an obstacle to the talent they need to have here in Asheville.”


Briefs

ASHEVILLEWhite Labs will create 65 jobs and invest $8.1 million over five years in a 26,000-square-foot fermentation lab here. The San Diego- based biotech company makes yeast and provides lab services for wineries, breweries and distilleries. The jobs will pay an average wage of $35,818, lower than Buncombe County’s $38,494. The company will receive a state grant of up to $40,000 if it meets job-creation and investment goals.

ASHEVILLE — Frank Scorpiniti became CEO of Earth Fare, a natural-foods supermarket chain. He replaces Jack Murphy, who became chief executive of New York-based gourmet-grocery retailer Fairway Group Holdings. Scorpiniti was CEO of Edmonton, Alberta-based drugstore operator Katz Group Pharmacies since 2012. Founded here in 1975, Earth Fare operates 33 stores in 10 states.

MARION — Mission Health named Bob Bednarek interim president of 65-bed McDowell Hospital. He replaces Lynn Boggs, who stepped down at the end of last year. Bednarek is vice president of rural health planning and development for the Asheville-based health system and was CEO of Transylvania Regional Hospital for 18 years.

ASHEVILLEHi-Wire Brewing will invest $1.6 million in a new brewery and will add 15 jobs to its existing seven. Started here in 2013, Hi-Wire was named the state’s best new brewery in 2013 by RateBeer.com. The expansion will allow it to brew 17,000 barrels, up from 4,000.

BLACK MOUNTAINIngles Markets reported its 50th consecutive year of sales growth in fiscal 2014. The grocery-store chain founded here in 1963 reported 2014 sales of $3.84 billion, a 2.6% increase over 2013.

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