The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy bought the former Asheville Biscuitry building last week at 372 Merrimon Ave. for $1.15 million dollars. Here’s the plan, according to a press release:
Local land trust to repurpose former restaurant building into forever home for conservation headquarters
After more than five years of planning and preparation, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) has taken the major step of purchasing a building in Asheville, NC for its permanent office.
“Our mission is to protect the most special places in the mountains forever, for future generations to use and enjoy,” said SAHC executive director Carl Silverstein. “Now, we will have a forever home from which to carry out that mission.”
On November 29, SAHC purchased the building at 372 Merrimon Avenue, the former location of Dough restaurant and then Asheville Biscuitry. The organization will renovate the building from its previous use as a restaurant into office space, and move in next year when the renovation is completed.
The new space will offer a more efficient working environment, on-site parking for staff and visitors, and easier public access than the work space the nonprofit land trust has leased in downtown Asheville since 1992.
“SAHC outgrew its current office space some time ago,” said Jackson Hamilton, vice president of SAHC’s Board of Trustees. “In the 2011 organizational strategic plan, we committed to find space that would better serve our conservation mission. We evaluated whether to continue leasing space or buy a building for our office. Ultimately, we determined that purchasing a home for our conservation headquarters would serve the organization’s future needs more efficiently and be a more financially sound option.”
SAHC’s Board of Trustees appointed an ad hoc working group of current and former Trustees, key staff, and community leaders to assist in this process. They worked with Samsel Architects on a Master Plan and Needs Assessment for office space.
“SAHC’s mission is very long-term in nature, with a commitment to serve conservation and land stewardship needs in the community in perpetuity,” said SAHC treasurer Laura McCue. “Owning a home office will help protect against rising rents over the long haul. We are building equity in something that will be a valuable asset to the organization.”
“Given the costs of downtown rent, parking and related expenses, SAHC purchasing this building for its offices is a smart financial move,” said SAHC Trustee Jim Houser, a commercial real estate professional who donated his services and commission to assist SAHC.
To purchase the building, SAHC used donated funds earmarked for this purpose. It financed the remainder through a loan from Asheville Savings Bank, and will work to pay off the loan over the next fifteen years. Membership contributions were not used for the transaction.
SAHC plans to host an open house in Spring 2017, after the renovations and move have been completed.
About Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy: The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is a non-profit land trust headquartered in Asheville, NC. Since 1974, SAHC has protected over 70,000 acres of unique plant and animal habitat, clean water, farmland and places for outdoor recreation of the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina. For more info, visit Appalachian.org.