Swannanoa Impacted by Mountaintop Developments for Wealthy Transplants

Young Farmer Talks with New Neighbors in the Beacon Mill Village

Carolyn Fryberger chose the Beacon area to start a new organic farm. Her farm lies in the shadow of the looming development atop Flat Top Mountain and the Swannanoa Mountains. In this excerpt she writes of her new neighbors:

  • "On Sunday I was out raking around the compost pile. Louise, my neighbor who is 80 and grew up on a farm near Boone, stopped by to tell me I was working too hard. She gently scolded me, calling me "baby doll," "little child," and "little Carolyn," as she always refers to me. Later when I had come back in the house there was a knock on the door - it was Louise with some potato soup, fresh off the stove. Jack is another neighbor; he and his wife Lulu live on the lot contiguous to mine. Jack was born in the house they live in, and his parents worked at the Beacon Mill just up the road (a blanket factory, now demolished, and the reason that all these houses are here in the first place). Lulu was born and raised just 5 miles up the road in Black Mountain. ....
  • ......My other contiguous neighbor, from the treeline to the ridge, is the Cliffs of Swannanoa. From my window you can see the No Trespassing signs tacked onto trees in a young forest - a forest that has regrown since being clearcut during the Beacon era. A forest that Jack, Jeanie and their children know like the back of their hand. Many of the special spots they remember there are gone, dynamited to make way for roads, tunnels, golf courses and multi-million dollar houses. And now they and their children are trespassers on land that shaped them and their community.....
Read the full blog at:

The Cliffs at High Carolina

In June of 2006 The Cliffs Communities Inc. received approval from the Buncombe County Planning Department to begin construction in their 1,284 acre, 592-lot subdivision called The Cliffs at High Carolina. The project has grown considerably since the initial application. High Carolina, the largest land development in the county, now covers 3,200 acres. Approximately 10% of the tract will remain natural open space, the balance of the land is dedicated to the Tiger Woods golf course, 1,300 home sites, and various recreational facilities.

"Tiger Woods' first foray into golf course design is in the desert terrain of Dubai. His second one will present an entirely different challenge. Yesterday, the world's best golfer confirmed that he will design a mountain layout for the Cliffs Communities at High Carolina, between Asheville, NC, and Greenville, SC. The course, which will be laid out especially for walkers, will sit at an elevation of 4,000 feet amid a community of homes priced well into the millions of dollars. Scheduled opening is sometime in 2010... Membership in one of the Cliffs courses confers membership in all. The current initiation fee is $125,000, with dues nearing $500 a month......... In announcing the Cliffs venture, Tiger said he wants to design a course his "friends" would enjoy playing. Given the company he keeps, High Carolina should be tough. "


America’s Best Private Club Membership
The Cliffs Communities® offers a membership unlike any in America. Membership in one community entitles you to over $150 million in completed amenities at all eight, including what will soon be eight courses of championship golf crafted by the masters - Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Gary Player, Ben Wright, Tom Jackson, and now, Tiger Woods - and a comprehensive wellness program developed in conjunction with renowned health and medical experts.

Source: The Cliffs Communities website (http://www.cliffscommunities.com/)

At The Cliffs, we operate under the mission of providing a lifestyle for our members that goes beyond that of typical private club communities. Celebrating multi-generational families. Celebrating conservation and giving back. Celebrating the uniqueness of our natural settings. Celebrating wellness, camaraderie and fun. Celebrating life. It''s this mission that leads us to envision and create new vacation properties in unique international destinations.
These international properties are truly original experiences, tailored for our members and their families. With quaint lodges and a handful of rooms, you and your family have the opportunity to make these destinations your own private paradise, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure catered to your specifications

Source: The Cliffs Communities website

Webmasters Notes:
Hungry Real Estate Developers are using developments such as the Cliffs to lure commercial development in the valley below. At the same time, land developers are scouring the property records at the court house and contacting property owners with blind offers to purchase without disclosing the fact that they are working on behalf of the mega-developers such as the Cliffs Communities. Gated Communities which shut the new wealthy owners apart from the long-time working class residents of Swannanoa, are popping up like chokeweed.
As the dynamite blasts away at the mountain and bulldozers push the disturbed earth away, real estate agents are feasting on the potential profits from prized property in the village which for generations was one of the least expensive places to live in the county.
  • Prime Commercial site in Swannanoa. 8.73 acres at only $1,750,000. Ideally located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 70 and Warren Wilson College Road, only two miles from the new Cliffs development. All utilities available. Zoned CS and ready for development. Seller will subdivided. Acres: 8.73
  • "Historic renovation, New everything ! Main level is set up as pub/bar on the North side and resturant / catering on the south side, 1,000 sqft patio for outside seating. Other uses possible. Entire first floor has 14 ft ceilings, hardwood floors New store fronts and interior connection if desired. Corner lot with plenty of paved parking & overflow, Dumpster pads, off site signage on HWY 70 & Whitson Rd,
    Available For Sale $900,000 for all or portion of LLC negotiable for end user, pub improvements underway, resturant negotiable subject to upfit and user. Custom bar with recycled wood from the building, large comminuty 10,200 resident in the valley of swannanoa desires and needs
    The Cliffs are coming!
    Tiger Woods signature course just 3 blocks from the entrance. "

  • Gated subdivision with views of Craggy Gardens, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Swannanoa Valley conveniently located between Asheville and Black Mountain and a short drive to shopping, restaurants and I-40. Alpine Mountain also joins new upscale The Cliffs subdivision High Carolina. Large lot ideal for your own private estate in a private setting surrounded by nature and mature hardwoods. Lot can possibly be subdivided.

  • Offered At: $1,500,000 Approx 5.5 +/- acres on front of property zoned commercial and 6.6 +/- zoned R-1. Water & sewer on US 70, 3 phase electrical at site. Great potential in busy area. Two existing houses are useable - sold "as-is." Two separate septic systems, 1 well. Brick house has back up oil heat. 24x30 Outbuilding. Located near new Tiger Woods/Cliffs Golf Course.
  • Offered At: $275,000
    Long range mountain views east & west. Several building sites under 2500 FT elevation means no slope laws affecting property. Unrestricted land! Offers incredible privacy with close access to Asheville, Black Mountain & the new Cliffs Community. Wonderful property for private estate, family compound or sub-development
  • This is an opportunity of a lifetime. Incredible level ridgetop homesite with spectacular long range southern views(the same views many of The Cliffs at High Carolina lots have at $500K+ per acre). Perfect for active or passive solar home. Private, mostly wooded lot which had a circular driveway installed some years ago. Short of the Cliffs new project, nothing else on the market even comes close!
Earlier Coverage of the RidgeTop Development Issues Overshadowing Swannanoa
Builders rush to beat stricter slope rules”
John Boyle, Asheville Citizen-Times,
July 2006

If you had any doubt that developers desire mountainside locations for new homes, consider the recent rush of subdivision applications that recently arrived on Buncombe County planners’ desks.“ Twenty-three subdivision applications came in before the deadline,” said David Young, a Buncombe County Commissioner.
Asheville and Buncombe County have been discovered. Real estate in Florida has tanked, and we’re getting a lot of developers coming in from other places wanting to develop our mountains. It scares me to death.”
The new regulations apply to subdivisions with 11 or more lots, and they control density on slopes greater than 25 % and restrict the amount of cleared area on steep lots. County commissioners passed the regulations in March. They went into effect July 1, a deadline some developers wanted to beat because the new rules likely will increase development costs and prevent them from placing homes on some mountainsides.
Among the applicants that came in at the last minute was one for High Carolina, a 592-lot subdivision proposed for 1,284 acres in Swannanoa. The Cliffs Communities Inc., which is developing the high-end Cliffs at Walnut Cove subdivision in southern Buncombe, is the developer.Cliffs President Jim Anthony acknowledged that his company submitted the application to beat the deadline….
"Some developers rushed to get approval for their mountain properties before Buncombe County, which includes Asheville, passed its regulations in 2006.
In Buncombe, Jim Anthony, the visionary behind The Cliffs Communities, was one of 23 area developers who took advantage of a three-month window between passage of the slope regulations and its enactment. His High Carolina community near Asheville, which signed up Tiger Woods to make his American design debut, has sold tens of millions of dollars of property since last year.

According to a North Carolina blogger who has been reporting faithfully on the landslide issues at WNCSOS, some High Carolina properties are squarely in the landslide danger zone. At 3,200 acres, The Cliffs at High Carolina is the largest development project in the county.
In December 2007, according to the WNCOS web site, The Cliffs won a lawsuit against the county regarding the density of condo and apartment complexes on steep mountain slopes. "
Source: (Golf Community Reviews:
Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Cliffs at High Carolina Property Report:Will Landslide Risks be Disclosed?

The planning for The Cliffs at High Carolina has been in the news since the summer of 2006 when Jim Anthony, President of The Cliffs Communities, Inc. acknowledged that the company had received permission to build homes and a golf course on an expansive 3,200 acre mountain tract in Swannanoa, North Carolina.
The New York Times recently featured The Cliffs at High Carolina in their Great Homes and Destinations Real Estate Section. According to Nick Kaye’s article The Cliffs Communities will open land sales in November 2008 for their eighth master planned subdivision. Prices for The Cliffs at High Carolina homesites will range from $500,000 to more than $2 million.
"Cliffs can dodge building limits"
By Mark Barrett
Asheville Citizen-Times
January 12, 2008
......Anthony said his company hopes to make an announcement related to the golf course, being designed by Tiger Woods, in the coming months. Later in the year it will announce details of the first offering for sale of lots in the development he said.
Plans submitted to Buncombe County last June say The Cliffs had acquired almost 2,500 acres for the project. It is likely to include a total of more than 1,000 homes.The Cliffs said in its lawsuit that it had paid about $45.1 million for property in Fairview by the time the multifamily ordinance was adopted in March and had contracted to so spend another $9.4 million for more land.
That doesn't include an oral agreement with Buncombe County Commissioners Chairman Nathan Ramsey and his brother Franklin for The Cliffs to buy 190 acres from the Ramseys for $3.7 million.The Cliffs said it had also spent more than $3 million on legal, planning and related work on the project by that point.

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