Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:
Question: Why has nothing ever been done with that huge empty space on Charlotte Street where Ingles was until it burned down? That’s what I call prime real estate! Also, why is Fuddruckers still standing after going out of business years ago? That’s also what I call prime real estate.
My answer: The only thing that’s more mystifying than the lack of a hotel on this site is the lack of a brewpub.
Real answer: Ingles Markets does indeed own this property, but it hasn’t always. The Black Mountain-based grocery chain leased the property for years, going back to the past century. The Ingles store that was on the property burned down in 1994, and the 2.2-acre property has been vacant since.
Ingles bought the property in 2018 for $2.3 million from the Sethi family.
Buncombe County tax and property records list Ingles Markets Inc. and Ryan Tax Compliance Services LLC, out of Houston Texas, as owners. The property has a tax appraised value of $2.3 million.
As is usually the case with Ingles, they remain tight-lipped about any plans for the site.
“As a matter of policy, unfortunately we do not discuss possible future plans for individual real estate locations until construction begins,” Ingles Markets Chief Financial Officer Pat Jackson said via email. “There are too many variables with zoning, weather and availability of construction resources.”
Rusty Pulliam, president and chief executive of Asheville-based Pulliam Properties, said he could shed more light on the property.
“When the building burned down, they never did build it back,” Pulliam said, noting that Ingles’ prototype stores have gotten bigger over the years, and the lot on Charlotte Street is relatively small. “They continued to lease it to keep another competitive grocery store from going in on that site.”
Pulliam acknowledged the location is prime for development, as it’s almost a stone’s throw from Interstate 240.
“I’ve had several conversations with (Ingles) about that site,” Pulliam told me. “They think the highest and best use of it is as an apartment or hotel site. But Ingles is waiting for right now.”
Pulliam has worked on numerous development projects, and his company leases a lot of commercial space in and around Asheville.
“I could see that being multi-family with retail on the first floor, similar to what we’re doing with the Fuddruckers site,” Pulliam said, referring to the former burger restaurant just north and across the street from the Ingles site. “It’s right by an interstate exchange, and you can walk to downtown. That, in my mind, are the two highest uses of that property.”
I checked the city’s development portal site, and no current construction permits are listed for the location.
On the Fuddruckers site, Pulliam also had answers, as he’s one of the partners developing that site. He and several partners are going to develop 190 apartments and 6,000 square feet of retail space at the location, 130 Charlotte St.
The project made it through the necessary city approvals in 2021, but the reader is correct — the restaurant building remains.
“The reason it is on hold right now is, the rise of construction costs have just been crazy,” Pulliam said. “Right now we’re trying to get down to a budget we can live with. Until we can do that, it’s going to sit there vacant.”
Interest rates for borrowing have doubled, and construction materials and labor have dramatically increased, Pulliam said. While it will remain vacant for a while, developers don’t like to sit on the sidelines too long.
“The goal is to start sometime in 2023,” Pulliam said.
Got a question? Send it to John Boyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-337-0941.