The New Belgium Effect: Becoming Little Fort Collins

New Belgium didn't just bring its beer to Asheville, but it also brought its connections and people which is really boosting our community.  In fact, you might say we're becoming little Fort Collins.

When did it start? 2008:

New Belgium's owner, Kim Jordan, recently stated that they began exploring Asheville back in 2008.
"Jordan said New Belgium started exploring an Asheville location in 2008." (Click for Source)
Asheville on Bikes Benefits:
In 2010, New Belgium made its presence known in Asheville when it launched its first annual Clips of Faith Beer and Film Tour, the proceeds of which get donated to a local nonprofit.  Because of New Belgium's support of cycling, they chose Asheville on Bikes who received $2,376 in 2010. No information for how much they've received since then but they now co-sponsor the event with New Belgium who has contributed to them each year since.

Media Benefits
But, we've also benefited from the Fort Collins connection in our media.  In early 2014, we welcomed Josh Awtry, Editor in Chief of our Asheville Citizen-Times.  Prior to this stint, he was the Executive Editor of the Fort Collins paper, The Coloradoan, where he had been since December 2011. So, he was used to writing about New Belgium way before he got here. That was one subject he didn't need to familiarize himself with.
“My family and I have a deep love for Fort Collins, and leaving this community was a tough call that involved a large share of sleepless nights and long conversations,” Awtry said. “As those who live here know, this is a pretty special place, and I’ve enjoyed every minute, every community event, every revolution of my bike tire.” (Click for Source)
Not only that, but Mr. Awtry even dedicated two full-time beer reporters! (Click for Source). See comment below for update from Mr. Awtry who claims this did not end up happening.

Local Businesses and Leaders Benefit
The New Belgium effect has also been positive for our local leaders, actually helping to save Brownie Newman's company, FLS Energy, a solar power company, where he is Vice President of Development.  In 2013 FLS Energy was suffering and having to lay off employees.
"FLS's explosive growth came with debt, and 2013 had a rocky start with slowing revenues, Freudenberger said. After growing to around 65 employees, the company has scaled back with attrition and layoffs." (Click for Source)
However, in early 2014, they received a $30 Million investment from four private investment firms, one of which is Vision Ridge Partners based in Boulder CO (1 hr from Fort Collins).  (Click for Source)

New Belgium and Vision Ridge have shared interests in renewable energies and often donate the same exact amounts to PACs in Colorado, serve on the same committees and participate in the same conferences.  Kim Jordan, the New Belgium CEO and Vision Ridge even participated in the same conference last year.  Perhaps New Belgium's confidence in Asheville and FLS Energy (since they conduct all of their Leadership Roundtable meetings in the FLS Energy Board Room) helped other Colorado investment companies see the future in Asheville.  Now that Brownie Newman is a Buncombe County Commissioner and will be dolling out over $7 million in funding to New Beligum over the next year, we hope they appreciate the use of his board room even more. In addition, Brownie is a member of the Asheville Riverfront Redevelopment Commission which also controls the plans impacting New Belgium.

Heck, even Brownie's Alma Mater, Warren Wilson College, had the privilege of having Kim Jordan be their 2015 commencement speaker.  (Click to read). The love is definitely going around.

In fact, FLS Energy was at many of the preliminary discussion meetings with New Belgium when they were discussing Asheville as their new site according to this Citizen-Times article (however, no mention was made whether or not it was Brownie at these dinners or not):

Alternative energy is important to New Belgium, which already boasts Colorado’s largest photovoltaic array and uses wind energy to power and cool the servers for its data center.
FLS Energy, of course, came into the long conversations city supporters had with the New Belgium search team. The homegrown solar company has been named the 46th fastest-growing firm in the nation.
In fact, most of the innovative business leaders around town had a chance to meet and talk with the Fort Collins crews during their many meals at The Market Place and at the Inn at Biltmore or their evenings sipping local brews at the Thirsty Monk or the Lexington Avenue Brewery
We'll keep reporting as more information comes in! Thank you all for sharing!

Welcome to Little Fort Collins Asheville!
Update: we need to retitle our article, the "Fort Collins East of the Mississippi" -this is how New Belgium viewed us when they were exploring Asheville:

Asheville, NC – 163 Craven StreetStrengths• The “Fort Collins east of the Mississippi” with year around activities and tourist destinations• Culture consistency with site being near the arts district for a walk and bike workforce• Right to work state• Moderate tax with low utility costs• Population growth area Property DescriptionWeaknesses • Approximately 19 acres across 3 separate• No direct flight to Denver parcel owners – French Broad River• Smallest market under consideration Group (6 acres), McLamb (1.5 acres) and• Need to assemble and purchase land Main Auto Parts (10.35 acres) • Urban place zoning to be rezoned to 13 commercial industrial" 

http://www.slideshare.net/.../the-anatomy-of-competition...





$123 MILLION and Counting: The True Cost of the RADTIP (updated)

Numbers are easy to throw around and they change often. When it comes to government projects and construction, those numbers never go down.  We've been keeping track.  At this time, the true cost of the 2.2 Miles in the River Arts District project known as RADTIP is up to $123 MILLION.  Here's the breakdown:

$74 Million for NCDOT Construction Costs
North Carolina taxpayers will be paying almost $74 Million in estimated NC Dot Construction Costs:

Update: We have been told that this $74 million is for the road work from Amboy Road to the Interstate on Riverside Drive. But from the description in this document, it seems to state it's for Riverside Drive, north for 2.2 miles which is the area we are concerned with. In addition, this document references the same DOT project number as the RADTIP - U-5019. We are providing this information as it comes to us and clarifying details. 
$26 Million in Asheville taxpayer funds (from General fund, enterprise fund, stormwater fund, etc.) plus $23.8 million from other funds and grants to go toward: sidewalks, transit shelter, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, renovation of 14 Riverside Drive (the brownfield building beside 12 Bones).   (Click for source)

TOTAL: $123 Million and counting....

New costs not figured in the above: an ADDITIONAL $10 more million!
$3 Million new Craven St BridgeThe City is now also planning a new bridge to connect New Belgium to the River Arts District at an estimated cost of $3,000,000 Million. There is a current bridge but it's not suitable for truck traffic. That one will be converted to a pedestrian bridge once the new bridge is up.
$7 Million for Craven St improvements - was originally estimated at $2 Million but the City had to increase it another $5 Million last year. (Click for Source)


Artists in South End Oppose Form Based Code

The City's form based code $100,000 consultants from Texas will be here July 25 - 29 to begin drafting the new zoning to replace the current River District zoning. While here, they will have "open house" meetings where you can go and participate.  

What they don't say is this: FORM BASED CODE IS A DONE DEAL. 

There was no debate or discussion with the community in a public meeting to even discuss the merits of replacing the current zoning except for Stephanie Dahl's proclamation that they listened to "citizen's complaints" which we would like to see a record of. There was no discussion about whether the current zoning could be amended.  FORM BASED CODE IS A DONE DEAL UNLESS the artists and property owners rally together to fight this change. 

If you want to sit around and think the City is actually going to care about whether your rents go up, think again. They don't. In fact, they need rents to go up because then that means the land values have gone up, other developers have come in and they receive increased property taxes. The City is spending at least $25 million of taxpayer funds (equal to 4 years of capital improvement budget). They must increase the taxbase in order to pay for this extravagant gamble.

Here is a similar story of artists in an industrial area in Burlington Vermont. These artists fought the Form Based Code and here's why:

Sound familiar?
"Darshana Bolt pays $115 a month for the art studio in Burlington's South End where she draws and paints.
The rent buys a small corner of a big room shared by eight artists and a band that practices next to the sagging couch.....
Artists, tech, craft breweries - sounds just like Asheville
As major employers such as Dealer.com grow their presence in the Pine Street corridor and start-ups such as social media site Ello move in, the neighborhood appears to be shifting further from its blue-collar roots. Tech workers and professionals drive in every day, and so do people who want to take a cooking class, buy a smoothie or craft beer, do yoga and browse vintage shops. Now there's speculation that expensive condos will come next."
It's a done deal
The city planning process seems almost to assume that upzoning for housing in the neighborhood will take place, said Amey Radcliffe, an artist and South End business owner who has rented an office at the Howard Space building since 1997.
"They talk about it like it's a done deal."
What's wrong with current zoning?
She and other artists say the current zoning has helped keep studio rents low and fostered creative endeavors that might not be compatible with condos upstairs — bands practicing, wood workers running saws, industrial artists pounding hammers, trucks coming and going to pick up furniture and sheet metal.
Radcliffe wants the South End to be spared a trend that has occurred in other cities. "Can we not be the next SoHo and all these places that used to be cool and now they're just high rent districts?" Radcliffe asked, referring to an arts district in New York City.
Get organized
"If they change the zoning, the first thing developers would do is put in condos," he said.
If the value of the land goes up, artists who work in the area will leave, Norris-Brown said. He's helped to organize artists to stay involved in the planning process and work for strategies that would preserve affordable studio space.
Don't wait on Texas
"We're not waiting for the consultant from Boston to tell us what to do," Norris-Brown said.
Let's use housing as an excuse...
Housing — both affordability and availability, renting and owning — is a real issue for Dealer employees that are already living in Vermont or relocating from elsewhere, according to Von Puschendorf.
Smart growth land-use principles hold that building housing close to employers, schools, recreation and stores is good for the environment because it reduces the need for cars and potentially reduces the demand for housing sprawl that eats up rural land.

Monthly AARRC Meeting: Thursday, July 9, 2015 at 4pm

Get ready to drink more Kool-Aid 

ASHEVILLE AREA RIVERFRONT REDEVELOPMENT COMMISSION
MONTHLY MEETING
JULY 9, 2015
4PM

4 PM CALL TO ORDER

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

4:05 PM RETREAT RECAP

4:20 PM SUBCOMMITTEE UPDATES

  • Planning and Design Review Committee – Carleton Collins
  • Networking Committee – Peter Sprague
  • Nominations Committee

4:35 PM STAFF UPDATES

  • Project Sheet
  • UNC Asheville Update
  • COA Board and Commission Staff Liaison Training and Policy – Caroline
  • NCDOT I-26 Update – Stephanie Monson Dahl
  • Form-Based Code Update – Sasha Vrtunski

5 PM UNFINISHED BUSINESS

  • Grilling for Greenways Update – Lucy Crown

5:10 PM NEW BUSINESS

  • Design Review: Duke Energy Swannanoa Sub Station Project

5:25 PM PUBLIC COMMENT

ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Form-Based Code Charrette
  • RiverMusic

5:30 PM FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS AND ADJOURNMENT

NEXT MEETING: THURSDAY AUGUST 13TH AT 4PM, ASHEVILLE AREA CHAMBER OF

COMMERCE SECOND FLOOR BOARD ROOM

City Hiring Real Estate Acquisition Firm to begin Right of Way Acquisitions in RAD

DATE: June 5, 2015 
CITY OF ASHEVILLE 
REQUEST FOR LETTER OF INTEREST 
THE CITY OF ASHEVILLE DESIRES TO ENGAGE A QUALIFIED REAL ESTATE ACQUISITION FIRM (REAF) TO PROVIDE RIGHT OF WAY NEGOTIATION, APPRAISAL, RELOCATION SERVICES AND LEGAL SERVICES 
Issue Date: June 5, 2015. 

The primary and/or sub-consultant firm(s) shall be pre-qualified by NCDOT to perform ROW Negotiation Services (00194), Right of Way Appraisal Services (00192) and Relocation Assistance (00186). The legal consultant should be licensed in North Carolina and should have real estate law experience. This project is the property acquisition component of a comprehensive plan to revitalize the riverfront area within the City of Asheville known as the River Arts District Transportation Project (RADTIP). The purpose of the overall project is to improve the existing roadway deficiencies along Riverside Drive and Lyman Street in the River Arts District (RAD) and to expand transportation options and system linkages. This will include vehicular, pedestrian, bicycle and transit alternatives. These improvements will enhance safety and provide more diverse modal options for the traveling public and visitors to the River Arts District. These modal services will also improve regional mobility for pedestrians and bicyclists. http://www.ashevillenc.gov/Portals/o/citydocumetns/communityrelations/progress/20140611_RADTIP2.pdf.

SUBMISSION OF LETTER OF INTEREST 

Private real estate acquisition firms are invited to have all six copies of their letters of interest for furnishing negotiation, appraisal, relocation and legal services to the City of Asheville by 5:00 p.m. on July 8, 2015. Letters of interest received after this deadline will not be considered. Firms submitting letters of interest are encouraged to carefully check them for conformance to the requirements stated above. If Letters of Interest (LOIs) do not meet ALL of these requirements, or to any address other than shown below they will be disqualified. No exception will be granted. The mailing address is: Ellen McKinnon Real Estate Coordinator Community & Economic Development Post Office Box 7148 Asheville, NC 28802


What is interesting about this is we were told June 17, 2015 that the City had already hired very qualified contractors.  Guess not.