Nearly 300 new apartments are set for 22 acres on Sardis Road, where developers hope to build work-from-home friendly apartments with a creek-side greenway, according to plans recently filed with the city of Asheville.
Developer VVS Investments, of Mills River, is hoping to gain a conditional rezoning for six three- to four-story buildings with a total 286 one- to three-bedroom apartments, according to plans on file with the city.
Art Bayluk, representing the developer, said it is still finalizing plans that will include affordable units, extra square footage for renters working from home and green space for residents near Hominy Creek, which runs along the northern edge of the 22.14-acre property.
At least 10% -15%, or about 29-43 units, will be deeded affordable at 80% of the area median income per the city’s requirements, he said, which is set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at $48,100 for a two-person household.
A traffic study is also in the works, Bayluk said, as traffic on Sardis Road emerged as the top concern for neighbors during a neighborhood meeting held in May, especially high traffic on the road between 4-6 p.m.
The project is set to go before the city’s Technical Review Committee Aug. 2, and developers are hoping to have the results of the traffic study in hand by then, he said.
Once all city approvals and permits are in place, he said they’ll have a better idea of a construction timeline, though the site shouldn’t take much prep work before construction can start.
Plans also call for a clubhouse that Bayluk says will have a pool, gym, lounge and office space, though plans still haven’t been finalized. The same goes for the bedroom and apartment layouts, where developers are hoping to give residents some extra space for home offices.
“Since after COVID a lot of people are working from home, our goal is to give a little more square footage for people to work from home,” he said.
That translates to between 150-200 square feet larger than initial plans, Bayluk said, which were revisited as the pandemic dragged on and more people were consistently working from home.
Now, one-bedroom apartments are slated to be around 900 square feet, two-bedroom apartments will be between 1,250-1,300 square feet and three-bedroom apartments between 1,450-1,500 square feet.
Those plans could include larger living room space to accommodate a desk so that work-from-home office space doesn’t eat into the regular living room, Bayluk said.
Plans are also in the works for a green space on the property near Hominy Creek, which runs along the north of the property.
Bayluk said the goal is to save as many trees as possible and create a green space with grills, dog walk, outdoor exercise equipment or other amenities.
A looping greenway is shown in plans on file with the city, which say 15% of the existing tree canopy will be preserved.
Plans go before the city’s Urban Forestry Commission only if they fail to meet the recent Tree Canopy Protection Ordinance, said Urban Forestry Commission Chair Amy Smith.
The ordinance, which passed last September, requires developments to either save trees, plant trees or make a payment in lieu of either of those things in order to help protect tree cover in the city.
“The ordinance has different categories depending on the location of the site, and within those requirements, there’s different options,” Smith said, depending too, on how many trees were on the site to begin with.
Preserving that tree canopy is important to combat the heat island effect, she said, and reduce erosion and control stormwater, especially near waterways like the popular Hominy Creek, which has been plagued with issues.
“In general, preserving tree canopy is important because it’s declining in the city,” Smith said, citing a 2019 study that showed Asheville has lost 891 acres of trees over the previous decade.
According to site plans, 28% of the site is currently tree canopy, and it’s located in a suburban district, with no plantings or payments proposed.
The ordinance, then, would require 15% preservation, which plans say is met with 137,290 square feet, or 3.1 acres, of canopy preserved.
Designs for the clubhouse and green space are the next step for developers after completing layout of the residential buildings, Bayluck said.
Currently zoned Commercial Industrial, the size of the project triggered the city’s conditional zoning to the city’s Residential Expansion district, and it will have to go through the city’s planning and zoning commission, and ultimately City Council before work can start at the site.
Derek Lacey covers health care, growth and development for the Asheville Citizen Times. Reach him at [email protected] or 828-417-4842 and find him on Twitter @DerekAVL.