Deschutes passes on Asheville, what happens now with $7 M land buy?

Deschutes passes on Asheville, what happens now with $7 M land buy? (Photo credit: WLOS)

BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. -- Land near Interstate 26 and the French Broad River, here in Beer City USA, was the prize Buncombe County offered Deschutes Brewery.

The county bought the 137 acres from Henderson County in an emergency closed session--for about $7 million.

Economic Development Commission Director Ben Teague said the land was great. It was the intangibles that caused Asheville to lose out on the new business and jobs.

"At the end of the day, after you kind of satisfy those things, it becomes about fit for the company in their strategy now, and their future expansion for the East Coast. And ultimately, I think they decided Roanoke was a better fit for them," Teague said.

While the wait for an announcement wore on County Commissioner Miranda DeBruhl floated the idea of selling the land, citing emergency budget needs. She now says they need to learn from what happened.

"I am disappointed in this entire process. I'd like to see an after-action review from the top-down, inside-out. Economic development is one thing. Making speculative real estate purchases with taxpayer dollars is entirely different," she said.

Asheville is already home to dozens of breweries and the excitement about Deschutes in Roanoke, seemed, at times, greater from Asheville's rival. People there started a big social media campaign to attract the company.

With no buyer, commissioners will now debate what to do with the land.

"It needs to be sold. We have a hole in the budget. A one-time expense. And we can plug that hole with this now one-time source of revenue," she said.

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