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Ask Matt ... where factories could locate

Ferncliff Industrial Park has 76 acres remaining. [PHOTO BY MATT MATTESON] Ferncliff Industrial Park has 76 acres remaining. [PHOTO BY MATT MATTESON]

Q. Do we have any prime industrial sites left in Henderson County and if so where are they?

Yes, we still have sites, actually a bunch. I sat down with Brittany Brady, president of the Partnership (also known as the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development). Brady said there are 17 industrial sites actively being promoted by the Partnership. For this story I chose five that I consider prime sites because they have some or all utilities in place, good road access and are 15 acres or greater. Let's take a look.
The Hudgens site encompasses 107 acres on McMurray Road near Bloomfield's (dish barn). It is plainly visible from the Interstate. It offers both water and sewer and more than half of the tract is already zoned industrial. Beverly-Hanks has the site listed for $18,360,000 (recently reduced). The property is about as flat as you can find here and can easily be developed.
The Garrison Lane site includes 48 acres located behind Cracker Barrel and Appleland Business Park on Upward Road. It has access to water and sewer. You may know this property as High Hope Dirt and Mulch, a 50-year old business operated by the Garrison family. There is a high hill in the middle of the property with a lot of dirt missing. The sales price is $4.8 million.
Ferncliff Park in Mills River has two prominent tenants — Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and GF Linamar. Ferncliff has 76 acres available that can be split into three or four industrial sites. Once part of the vast land holdings of the Westfeldt family of Rugby Grange, the property contained a summer home the family called Ferncliff. One of the parcels has "back door" access to the Asheville Regional Airport, which is a rare amenity. All sites are "NC Certified" which means they have passed a rigorous prequalification process. You can buy the whole 76 acres for a cool $9 million.
Broadpointe Industrial Park on Fanning Field Road off N.C. 280 has a 15-acre combined industrial site for sale. It's use for a large industry is somewhat hindered because of the power line that bisects the property. The price tag is $1.4 million.
Taproot Dairy Farm on Butler Bridge Road is a mega-site totaling 320 acres although 90 are in the flood plain. It's zoned commercial and would need to be rezoned for industry. The site is easily viewable from I-26. Taproot has utilities either on site or nearby but road access for 18-wheelers may be problematic without a new interchange. That aside, the property can be subdivided and it has long been called "a developers dream." Taproot is currently owned by the Johnston family and the asking price is a cool $20 million. The next closest mega industrial site in the state is in the Greensboro area.
Sites are important but new industry likes workforce skills and convenience too. Brady said that a potential industry frequently asks, "What's your 30-minute drive time?" This is because, while the commuting time for production workers is typically 20 to 30 minutes, higher paying workers will drive 45 to 60 minutes. Brady's staff can easily plot out commuting distances for an interested party. Job training is an issue locally because of the labor shortage. "Employers look for trainable workers who can move up the ladder quickly," said Brady. "The high schools and BRCC are part of the pipeline for filling those jobs."

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Send questions to askmattm@gmail.com.