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THE TOP 10: Grey Hosiery Mill, DuPont Forest

4. Grey Hosiery Mill

Although the mill has been in the news for more than 10 years, 2016 might go down as the year that started the project that worked. The City Council in November authorized an invitation to developers to submit plans to build a 130-room hotel (or something else commercially viable) on the site. The council wants the developer to retain at least the original 100-year-old part of the mill. The RFP was based on a consultant’s report that recommended the city recruit a higher-end hotel with a 7,900-square-foot conference hall, 5,000-square-foot restaurant and a 3,800-square-foot retail space. “The Grey Hosiery Mill redevelopment is a unique opportunity to capitalize on the growing demand for a full-service, unique hotel and event space in downtown Hendersonville,” the RFP says. For its part of the deal, the city offers to sell the 2.1-acre site through favorable terms and invest in streetscape improvements. The City Council could choose a developer by April. Groundbreaking could take place by December 2017.

3. DuPont State Forest

When the year opened, a controversy was about to erupt over a proposal to charge an admission fee of up to $12 per vehicle to fund much-needed improvements and pay for more rangers at DuPont State Forest. The forest drew 683,000 visitors in 2015 thanks to the popularity of The Hunger Games, a big hit movie, and the Blue Ghost, a tiny firefly. “We really need some infrastructure in there to handle all that,” said N.C. Forest Service spokesman Brian Haines. The admission fee was widely panned by area legislators. “I do not want my constituents to be taxed and charged fees at the same time,” state Rep. Chris Whitmire said. Within weeks, Troxler had made a request for $5 million for new personnel and capital improvements in the forest, including $1.5 million for rangers and other personnel and $3.5 million for parking, restrooms and other improvements. Rep. McGrady and Sen. Apodaca guided the funding through the $22 billion state budget and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler got most of what he requested. A successful year for DuPont State Forest got even better as the year ended. Troxler announced this week that the DuPont company had agreed to donate the 476-acre site of its old X-ray plant to the state of North Carolina, making the so-called donut hole public land and boosting the size of the forest to almost 11,000 acres. "I’m ecstatic about the announcement," said McGrady, whose involvement with the DuPont property goes back to efforts in the late 1990s to save the land from development. "It is the culmination of lots of hard work over many years by many people. With this acquisition, management and protecting DuPont State Recreational Forest will be much easier."