Best Year Ever: NAI Beverly-Hanks 2018 Year End Commercial Market Report

2018 Commercial Activity:

According to CoStar sales data, 2018 was the best year for commercial real estate in Western North Carolina. Our four-county MSA (Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood, and Madison) saw just over $700 million in sales last year. That bested 2016’s previous high-water mark by $100 million! In comparison, the region only saw $92 million in closed transactions in 2009.

Leading the way in 2018 were sales of retail and multi-family properties, each totaling more than $170 million. The Asheville Market (Whole Foods center), located at 4 S. Tunnel Road, sold for $33 million in February. The Asheville Exchange Apartments on Brevard Road sold for a record $56 million.

As for 2019, we predict a slight cooling in our market. This should be particularly notable when it comes to the development of new apartments and hotels, especially in Asheville’s Central Business District. That said, our unemployment is extremely low, the economy continues to impress, and people are flocking to our beautiful area in record numbers, so 2019 should still be a very good year.

  • 23 Industrial Transactions for $22.5 million
  • 75 Office Transactions for $103.7 million
  • 108 Retail Transactions for $188.8 million
  • 32 Multi-family Transactions for $171 million
  • 192 Land Transactions for $92.8 million

2018 Lease Activity:

Total lease transactions were mixed, but vacancy rates remain below 3%.

  • 77 Industrial Lease Transactions, Down 24 from 2017
  • 162 Office Lease Transactions, Up 18 from 2017
  • 137 Retail Lease Transactions, Down 26 from 2017

2018 Residential Activity:

Beverly-Hanks President Neal Hanks, Jr. has delivered his end-of-year Market Report for 2018. Watch the video below or continue reading below for a summation.

Last year, an impressive 9,200 homes sold. However, that pace represents a cooling of the market to a relatively flat sales pace (2% increase for the year). In 2018, there were 10% more homes available for sale across the nine-county region. Across the region, tight supply has reduced the number of homes selling for under $300,000.

While the Asheville MSA’s home affordability has become more challenging, it remains attractive to buyers from many other locales. Buyers are looking for livability in smaller markets, and often, that means moving from a high-cost/high-tax market to lower cost secondary markets like those in the Asheville MSA. This influx of out-of-town buyers should provide plenty of demand to maintain a healthy sales pace for the region.

Read more about 2018 residential real estate activity.

All real estate is local. In order to make confident real estate decisions, we believe it is important for you to have timely and neighborhood-specific information. For more information about our commercial real estate market, ask your NAI Beverly-Hanks associate or click here.

Big Swings: NAI Beverly-Hanks Q3 2018 Market Report

Q3 2018 Commercial Activity:

We witnessed some significant swings in commercial real estate for Q3. The industrial sector was off 80% from the second quarter. But office business was up 34%. Retail transactions were up 71%, but multi-family was down 70%. And land closings were off 35% from what they were in the spring.

Luckily, these large fluctuations are not uncommon with high-priced commercial real estate. Overall, total commercial volume for the third quarter was down $25 million (a more modest -15%) compared to Q3 2017. Our market is healthy, inventory is very tight, and financing is available!

  • 8 Industrial Transactions for $5 million
  • 32 Office Transactions for $20.5 million
  • 50 Retail Transactions for $45.8 million
  • 12 Multi-family Transactions for $21.2 million
  • 48 Land Transactions for $21 million

Q3 2018 Lease Activity:

Total lease transactions were down, but vacancies continue to drop and rents continue to rise. The average rent for industrial/flex space in Asheville’s MSA is just under $7.00/foot. Similar space rented for just under $4.00/foot four years ago. That’s an increase of 75%!

  • 15 Industrial Lease Transactions, Down 5 from Q3 2017
  • 28 Office Lease Transactions, Down 3 from Q3 2017
  • 27 Retail Lease Transactions, Down 13 from Q3 2017

Q3 2018 Residential Activity:

Beverly-Hanks President Neal Hanks, Jr. has delivered the third quarter 2018 Market Report. Watch the video below or continue reading below for a summation.



Our housing markets remain active but appear to be transitioning toward a more modest pace. Steady demand and the shortage of homes will likely cause home values to continue increasing, but at a slower pace.

Those selling their homes still have the edge in 2018. As the sales pace moderates and supply loosens, sellers will start to lose their edge. It is far too soon to call a buyer’s market, but we are heading in that direction. Right now, there are still plenty of opportunities in local real estate markets if buyers and sellers are willing to think creatively.

Read more about Q3 2018 residential real estate activity.


All real estate is local. In order to make confident real estate decisions, we believe it is important for you to have timely and neighborhood-specific information. For more information about our commercial real estate market, ask your NAI Beverly-Hanks associate or click here.


NAI Beverly-Hanks Q2 2018 Market Report: A Consistent Climb

Q2 2018 Commercial Activity:

The second quarter was solid, steady, and consistent—nothing extraordinary or flashy, just solid. Four out of the five sectors (industrial, office, retail, multi-family, land) were not up by much, but they were up. In the Central Business District (CBD), 48 Biltmore Avenue (home to Chestnut restaurant) and 26.5 Battery Park Avenue (home to Kilwin’s) were sold. Ten buildings have sold in the CBD in 2018, with an average sales price of $2.25 million. The median price per square foot is $165.25.


  • 10 Industrial Transactions for $25.4 million
  • 24 Office Transactions for $21.4 million
  • 27 Retail Transactions for $29.8 million
  • 13 Multi-family Transactions for $10.2 million
  • 47 Land Transactions for $22.5 million

Q2 2018 Lease Activity:

Total lease transactions were also slightly up, and vacancies continue to drop while rents continue to rise. The average rent for available office space in Downtown Asheville is just over $25.50/foot and retail space is approximately $29.50/foot.


  • 25 Industrial Lease Transactions, Down 2 from Q2 2017
  • 41 Office Lease Transactions, Up 7 from Q2 2017
  • 35 Retail Lease Transactions, Up 2 from Q2 2017

Welcome to the Seller’s Market: The Beverly-Hanks Q2 2018 Market Report

Q2 2018 Residential Activity:

Beverly-Hanks President Neal Hanks, Jr. has delivered the second quarter 2018 Market Report. Watch the video below for his short report, or continue reading for a summation.



Western North Carolina residential real estate markets are transitioning. Strong demand continues to drive prices higher and limited inventory is leading to more competition among home buyers. There are 4% fewer homes for sale now than this time last year. However, the number of homes under $300,000 has dropped by 12%. This trend is most pronounced in places like Buncombe and Henderson Counties.

Despite tightening supply, the sales pace remains strong in the second quarter. However there were 4% fewer homes sold compared to the same period last year due to fewer buyers being able to find a home that meets their needs. These trends are also affecting home prices, which have risen more than 8% during the last 12 months. We’re expecting this rate of appreciation to continue for at least the remainder of this year.

Read more about Q2 2018 residential real estate activity.


All real estate is local. In order to make confident real estate decisions, we believe it is important for you to have timely and neighborhood-specific information. For more information about your real estate market, ask your NAI Beverly-Hanks associate or click here.


After nearly six decades of decline, three new developments are opening on South Market Street in downtown Asheville—all within six months of each other!

Centered at the intersection of Eagle and Market Streets in downtown Asheville, the Block was once the city’s thriving African-American business district. The economy of the area was so strong that it was known at its height as “Black Wall Street.” Sadly, urban renewal efforts of the 1950s and ‘60s undermined the district, weakening the area’s economy and its presence in the greater Asheville landscape.

The area became so run down and crime ridden that in 1991 the city declared the Block a “blighted area.” Since then, the city has made a series of stopgap measures to improve the area. But after nearly three decades of stop-and-go attempts at funding and community input, revitalization is finally coming to the Block.

The current round of renovations are themselves not new. Efforts trace back nearly six years, to the fall of 2012, when the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) awarded nearly $7 million to Eagle Market Place, a partnership of Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation (EMSDC) and Mountain Housing Opportunities (MHO). Those funds, along with $4 million from the City of Asheville and Buncombe County, were pooled for the renovation of three historic buildings on the Block. In total, the project aimed to create 90,000 square feet of mixed-use development with affordable rental housing, commercial space, and community facilities.

Here’s where the Eagle Market Place project stands now, along with two other current developments in the district:

All about the 3 New Construction Projects Revitalizing the Block

Image Mountain Housing Opportunities

Eagle Market Place

Eagle Market Place is the impetus of the Block’s current revitalization efforts and a project nearly 15 years in the making. After years of funding efforts finally came together, renovation of three historic buildings on the Block began in earnest in 2014. However, a major construction mistake set construction back nearly a year and ended up changing the scope of the project.

Originally, Eagle Market Place was set to include 62 affordable one- to three-bedroom apartments, ranging in price from $200–$780/month. With construction corrections costing $600,000 and nearly a year of lost revenue, both the City and County approved a rent adjustment on 30 of the 62 apartments from affordable to workforce rates: $1,120–$1,400/month.

Now, the Eagle Market Place project is back on track and set to complete later this year. In total, the three renovated historic buildings will include almost 7,000 square feet of commercial, retail, and office space; more than 6,000 square feet of community and neighborhood space, and 62 mixed-income apartments.

Learn more about Eagle Market Place:

Image Hilton

Asheville Foundry Inn

Like the Eagle Market Place project, Hilton is using three historic buildings on the Block as the foundation for the new Asheville Foundry Inn. The contiguous buildings surrounding the YMI Cultural Center historically known as the Foundry Buildings will be joined by two newly constructed buildings on site. In total, the Asheville Foundry Inn will encompass 89 boutique hotel rooms in “five connected buildings, including a 100-seat restaurant, 3,500-square-foot lounge with a library and fireplaces, 3,600-square-foot luxury spa and fitness center, and about 3,000 square feet of functional meeting and event space.”

The Asheville Foundry Inn is the first Curio Collection by Hilton hotel under management by Charlestowne Hotels. Total cost for development is estimated at $30 million. The hotel is slated to open in July 2018.

Learn more about the Asheville Foundry Inn:

55 South Market Condominiums

55 South Market is a new-construction building offering one- and two-bedroom eco-friendly homes that feature smart home technology and hand-crafted design. Located just steps from the renovation happening at the heart of the Block, the condos add additional permanent residences to the neighborhood.

Each home is thoughtfully designed, with spacious floor plans that fit the modern lifestyle. Community outdoor spaces invite residents to spend more time breathing in the fresh mountain air as they prepare meals at the outdoor kitchen and grilling station, as they enjoy supper in the alfresco dining space, and as they socialize with neighbors and friends in the evening around the fire pit and in the gathering area.

The 55 South Market condos are listed from $264,750–$678,500. 15 condos are still available for purchase.

Learn more about the 55 South Market condominiums:


What do you think about the new development happening on the Block? Let us know in the comments.



Beverly-Hanks President Neal Hanks, Jr. has delivered the first quarter 2018 Market Report. Watch the video below for his short report, or continue reading for a summation.


Q1 2018 Commercial Activity:

It was a strong first quarter for commercial real estate in Western North Carolina. 96 properties closed for approximately $192 million, compared to 127 properties for $136.4 million in Q1 2017. Multi-family closings jumped to $52 million, due largely to the sale of two big apartment complexes: Woodberry ($22.7M) and Parkway Crossing ($27.3M). The average sales price for all properties came in at roughly $2 million, compared to $1.07 million in Q1 2017. The average sales price for properties in downtown Asheville was approximately $225 per square foot. There are currently three properties for sale downtown, including the historic Flat Iron Building for $16 million ($380 per foot).

Total lease transactions were slightly down, but vacancies continue to drop and rents continue to rise in all categories. The average rent for available office space in downtown Asheville is just over $25.50 per foot and retail space is $29.50 per foot.


  • 26 Industrial Lease Transactions, Up 2 from Q1 2017
  • 50 Office Lease Transactions, Up 14 from Q1 2017
  • 35 Retail Lease Transactions, Down 20 from Q1 2017

NAI Beverly-Hanks Q1 2018 Market Report: A Strong Start to the Year for Commercial Transactions!

Q1 2018 Residential Activity:

Price appreciation continues to march higher, creating big opportunities for homeowners. Demand is being pushed by low unemployment, increasing desire for home ownership, and people’s enthusiasm to live in Western North Carolina. This demand is creating a very active market, but buyers are being forced to compete for the dwindling supply of homes for sale. Here in WNC, that combination has translated into a 7.69% increase in prices.

Home prices have trended upward for the past five years, leaving many homeowners unaware of the equity they have gained. According to Fannie Mae, only 37% of Americans believe that they have “significant equity” (greater than 20%) in their home, when in actuality 83% do. All together, it is a great time to own real estate in our area.

Buncombe County continues to experience the highest median sales price in the region at $285,000. Rutherford County was the lowest at $170,000.

Read more about Q1 2018 residential real estate activity.


All real estate is local. In order to make confident real estate decisions, we believe it is important for you to have timely and neighborhood-specific information. For more information about your real estate market, ask your NAI Beverly-Hanks associate or click here.


Western North Carolina was built by small farmers and small business owners with big skills and big dreams. Today, the region’s small business community is stronger than ever, and many startup companies are making big names for themselves locally, regionally, and across the country.

Ahead of National Small Business Week (April 29–May 5, 2018), we wanted to highlight one local small business with big luxury offerings. We asked Patricia Smith Lähepelto and Allison Jerele, the owners of J Smith Boutique in Arden, to tell us about their company.

J Smith Boutique Offers Luxury Garb at Guilt-Free Prices

Patricia and Allison, J Smith Boutique (Photo by Camden Carter)

Patricia and Allison, tell us a little about your background in fashion and how you came to start the boutique.

Allison: We both grew up in South Asheville and graduated from T. C. Roberson High School. After high school and college, we both enjoyed stints abroad—myself in South America and Patricia in Japan. In 2008, we met through a mutual friend. We soon started working together when I joined Patricia’s communications team at a European manufacturing company with a base is in Mills River. Together, we traveled the world, building that company’s global brand. In November of 2016, we decided to take the leap and purchase an established high-end consignment boutique where we both shopped.

Patricia: We’re excited to bring a renewed model to designer consignment in the Asheville market. The boutique will set a new standard for service, with an exceptional range of merchandise, transparent and timely communications with all of our clients, and ultimately a customized, personal experience for repeat customers.

Allison: J Smith Boutique customers typically both buy and sell pre-loved garb to build and rotate their wardrobes. We want to be the first place you visit when you want to share your style with others or find something unique and exciting to wear.

What makes for a “communications-focused shopping experience” like you advocate?

Allison: Our goal is to assist each customer with their specific, individualized needs. We also want to be very clear with our consignors about the consignment terms and manage their expectations through a very clear agreement, with specific terms designed to streamline the process for all parties. We all have the same goal.

What labels can shoppers expect to see when they come in?

Patricia: Our 1500-square-foot store offers women’s clothing, handbags, footwear, and accessories. Current, classic, and exceptional items from fashion houses and designers range from Kate Spade and Tory Burch to Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton. J Smith specializes in offering boutique and designer brands. We want our patrons to come here in search of something fun and unique.

What is involved in a “consignor appointment”?

Patricia: Consignor appointments ideally last from 15–30 minutes. We check out each item carefully and choose what we think will sell according to our demographic and current market demands. We accept items on a seasonal basis – Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter.

What makes Arden an ideal location for your boutique?

Allison: Shopping for women’s clothing, handbags, footwear, and accessories is not prevalent in South Asheville. There are many residents in this area who we can adequately serve. We really love Arden and the other local business in the area. We feel that the area is growing at a rapid pace and it will only continue to do so.

What do you see as the value of women-owned businesses in Western North Carolina?

Allison: One of our favorite and, honestly, surprising aspects of buying this store has been collaborating and supporting other female-owned businesses—and recommending other small businesses as local resources so that independent businesses can thrive in this area. Women in Western North Carolina have proven that they love to support other women. It’s fantastic.

Patricia: Another trend we have noticed among our female entrepreneur friends is that we concentrate heavily on the community. Not only do we tend to network together and collaborate, we are very active in supporting local organizations and events. We all grow and thrive better together.

What is your favorite item that has come in or that you’ve sold, and why?

Patricia: This is not an easy question! There are a few: A limited-edition Louis Vuitton Speedy bag is definitely at the top of the list, along with a very unique bag designed by Helmut Lang.

Allison: Currently, we have a pair of Miu Miu strappy sandals with a jeweled heel that will be sure to make any woman feel like Cinderella for an evening.

How can your business benefit people buying or selling luxury homes in WNC?

Allison: Moving is the perfect time to perform the much dreaded but immensely satisfying closet cleanse. J Smith not only offers people a special place to sell their upscale items that have taken over their closets, but also to buy unique items. A consignment concept boutique is an excellent venue to both build and rotate your closet, guilt-free.

Learn more about J Smith Boutique and begin shopping at


Turning the Page: Malaprop’s Bookstore & Café

Tucked away in the vast aisles and shelves of Malaprop’s Bookstore & Café in downtown Asheville is the 35-year history of a business that remains a vital economic and social beacon for a city that’s evolved exponentially over the last few decades.

“We do feel like we’re an important part of the community. And we’re always looking for new ways to keep reaching deeper into the community around us. We don’t take for granted being here for 35 years,” said Melanie McNair, director of marketing for Malaprop’s.

Originally from Asheville, McNair has always known the beloved bookstore. It’s a place as unique and welcoming as those who peruse its selection and who work behind the counter.

“We’re bibliophiles, and we share that real love of books with our customers,” she said. “It’s hard to separate the independent spirit of Asheville from Malaprop’s. The bookstore was such a cornerstone of the development of the city and what we’re seeing here. People love it here so much because of the independent business owners, and that spirit draws people here. And there’s something about having a bookstore filled with creative and independent people that makes people feel safe.”

The future of independent bookstores was uncertain at the turn of the 21st century because of online shopping and big box retailers. But McNair sees the tide changing in the favor of that cozy, locally-owned shop just around the corner.

“It’s actually a good time to be a bookstore,” she said. “Independent bookstores are on the rise again, with more stores being opened than ever before. And physical book sales are back up. People are craving connections with other human beings and connections with physical objects because we’re so plugged in with our digital devices.”


“We’re bibliophiles, and we share that real love of books with our customers. It’s hard to separate the independent spirit of Asheville from Malaprop’s.” —Melanie McNair, director of marketing at Malaprop’s


And McNair noted Malaprop’s has one thing wholesalers don’t.

“What we do is something that they can’t do—customer service,” she said. “And for a lot of us here, the fact that Malaprop’s is such an important part of the community is one of the reasons why it’s so important for us to work here. It’s why we love working here and why we have such a deep appreciation for the place.”

Beyond the city limits, Malaprop’s is nationally recognized for its readings by bestselling authors and stocking its shelves with some of the finest literature from near and far.

“In the national landscape of bookstores, Malaprop’s is known,” she said. “So, when we go to trade shows and conferences, it’s really fun to find out what Malaprop’s means to booksellers, authors, and other store owners who don’t live here.”

Though McNair was born and raised in Asheville, she did leave for a period, only to return to her hometown, truly appreciative of what this city—and the bookstore—has to offer.

“What brought me back was the natural beauty of the area, as well as the funky vibe that we have retained as the city has grown. We’re a beacon across the South,” she said. And as for the bookstore, “I think we’ll hopefully continue to grow as a hub for great literature, nationally and locally. This is a great book town.”


This post is adapted from our annual Welcome to Western North Carolina magazine. Click here to read more online, or click here to order your own free copy.


Celebrate Pi Day at these 7 Irrationally Tasty Pie Spots



Though there are a number of math and science-related holidays in the calendar each year, Pi Day is objectively the best because you can celebrate with pie. The mathematical constant pi (π) represents the relationship between a circle’s diameter and its circumference, a ratio of 22 to 7. Since pi is generally approximated as 3.14, it is celebrated on March 14 each spring. And what better way to celebrate this nerdy occasion than with a circular shaped play on words?

If you have never celebrated Pi Day before, this is your year! For maximum effect, we recommend collecting a few friends and dividing 22 slices from these seven locations. Here is our selection of tasty pie shops in Western North Carolina to celebrate Pi Day.

Baked Pie Company

Made daily with the freshest and highest quality ingredients, the Baked Pie company thinks their customers deserve only the best. From shoofly to Amish apple to sugar crack, they have all your favorites—and then some! Can’t decide which to try? Select a “flight” of three flavors plus a scoop of ice cream.

4 Long Shoals Road, Arden | (828) 333-4366

Reynolds Village, 50 N Merrimon Avenue, Woodfin | (828) 210-9544

The Baker’s Box

Every day, the Baker’s Box offers a delicious assortment of freshly baked breakfast and all-day pastries, including brownies, bars, cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and pies. The one consistent ingredient? They put love into everything they make. For Pi Day, we recommend their black bottom peanut butter pie or the traditional pecan pie.

430 Kanuga Road, Hendersonville | (828) 595-9983

Buxton Hall

People go to Buxton Hall on Asheville’s South Slope for the barbecue. But they stay for the dessert. Just like the restaurant, the Buxton Hall bakery focuses on local and seasonal products to give you the highest quality, most delicious desserts. From house-cultured buttermilk to hog-fat crusts, you can expect a twist on the traditional. We recommend the banana pudding pie.

32 Banks Avenue, Asheville | (828) 232-7216

City Bakery

An Asheville staple since 1999, City Bakery serves some of the best food in town. Start your day with one of their breakfast pastries, enjoy top quality sandwiches, salads, and soups for lunch, and finish with a top-notch dessert. Our favorite is their fall seasonal, the salted caramel apple pie.

60 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville | (828) 252-4426

88 Charlotte Street, Asheville | (828) 254-4289

J&S Cafeteria

Not specifically a bake shop, J&S Cafeteria is the original fast casual restaurant, serving quality food at value prices since 1984. Among the daily dessert options are four made-fresh-daily pies: egg custard, butter coconut, coconut cream, and chocolate cream. If you haven’t been in a while, it’s time to give J&S another try.

800 Fairview Road, Asheville | (828) 298-1209

30 Airport Park Road, Fletcher | (828) 684-3418

Kandi’s Cakes and Bake Shop

The award-winning Kandi’s Cakes & Bake Shop offers simple traditional goodness! They have the pies that you and your family crave, including apple, peanut butter, and more. All of their pies are made fresh and only use the finest ingredients. Skip the grocery store and stop in for your next pie.

200 S Main Street, Waynesville | (828) 246-0180

McFarlan Bake Shop

Operating since 1930, McFarlan is a Hendersonville staple for “made from scratch” baked goods, still using the same recipes the old timers used 60–80 years ago. Their pie choices vary seasonally, but with two dozen options (from key lime to Swiss chocolate), there’s always something tasty on the menu.

309 N Main Street, Hendersonville | (828) 693-4256


Have you discovered the best pie in Western North Carolina? Let us know in the comments:




Walkable Urbanism: Is This what the End of Sprawl Looks Like?

In the 1980s, drivable suburban development saw great gains in market share as people scrambled to escape decaying urban cores and the crime and congestion that went with them. They escaped from concrete jungles to concrete savannas—vast sprawling communities of strip malls and never-full parking lots, or planned neighborhoods miles away from the nearest bus stop or grocery store.

Today, that trend is noticeably reversing. Millennials prefer urban cores, even ones outside of major metropolitan areas, because they want to be able to walk or bike to work and stores. Seniors planning to age in place are also seeking out accessible neighborhoods, where getting groceries or reaching activities aren’t chores for those no longer able to jump behind the wheel. In turn, walkable areas are seeing more home buyers and renters than the drivable suburban areas that were popular at the end of the 20th century.

The demand for mixed-use communities with moderate density that accommodate multiple types of transportation (foot, bikes, public transit, or cars) is changing the face of both residential and commercial real estate. Smart Growth America recently released their “Foot Traffic Ahead” report, ranking the levels and quality of walkable urbanism in America’s largest metros. According to the report, metros with more instances of walkable urban places (WalkUPs) “are also the most educated and wealthy (as measured by GDP per capita)—and, surprisingly, the most socially equitable.”

What does Walkable Urban Development Look Like?

Walkable urbanism is one of the oldest forms of community development there is. After the mass exodus of urbanites to the suburbs in the 1980s, center cities and suburban town centers began a period of redevelopment. By the mid-1990s, the New Urbanism movement revived the demand for walkable urbanism. According to the report, walkable urban development includes:

  • Substantially higher densities (1.0 to 40 floor area ratio, though mostly in the 1.0–4.0 range).
  • Mixed-use real-estate products, or the adjacent spatial mix of products.
  • Emerging “new” product types, such as rental apartments over a ground-floor grocery store.
  • Multiple transportation options, such as bus, rail, bicycle, and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, as well as motor vehicles, that connect to the greater metro area. Within the boundaries of the WalkUP itself, most destinations are within walking distance.

Where are WalkUPs?

While WalkUPs only occupy an average of 1% of all land within the 30 metro areas of the study, they absorb 49% of the metro area’s office and multi-family rental square footage. The majority of WalkUPs are located in central cities, but for several metros (those with the highest levels of walkability), a significant amount of WalkUP space was located in suburban jurisdictions, as well.

Locally, examples of WalkUPs include the Asheville and Hendersonville central business districts (CBDs), as well as planned multi-use communities like Biltmore Park Town Square.

How are WalkUPs Changing Commercial Real Estate?

According to the report, “walkable urbanism has gained market share in the office, retail, and multi-family rental product types over drivable suburban, possibly for the first time in 60–70 years.” Every one of the 30 metros surveyed showed a Fair Share Index (FSI) value of more than 1.0, indicating the degree to which WalkUPs are gaining market share while drivable suburban locations lose share.

A more obvious measure of the shift in demand can be seen in the rent-per-square-foot premium of commercial space in WalkUPs. The top 6 metros in the study “have a 125% WalkUP rental premium, meaning rents in their WalkUPs are, on average, more than double what they are in drivable suburban locations.”

In addition, this change is accelerating in the majority of metro markets. Of the seven metros surveyed that showed a decline in their WalkUP premium from 2010–2015, all but one were ranked as having low walkable urbanism.

In short, the demand for WalkUPs is increasing, driving up the price of the commercial spaces within them.

Why do WalkUPs Matter?

The trends of these 30 large metros signify more than a change in preferences among eco-conscious millennials. Affordable housing, income parity, public transportation, and aging infrastructure are major issues on the national and local fronts. As it turns out, walkable cities can be a sign of social equity, public education, and GDP per capita.

Counter to intuition, the study demonstrated a clear correlation between high walkable urban rankings and high social equity performance, “as measured by moderate-income household spending on housing and transportation and access to employment.” In addition:

There is a significant positive correlation between a metro’s current walkable urbanism and the higher education of its workforce. Even more compelling is the high degree of correlation between walkable urbanism and metropolitan GDP per capita.

Further studies are needed to determine any causal connections between these correlations. However, regardless of the causal direction, cities like Asheville—with a larger percentage of college graduates than all the cities surveyed except Washington, D.C.—can actively consider higher density and walkable development among their strategies for increasing affordability and social equity.

Will WalkUPs Conquer Urban Sprawl?

Commercial real estate within urban metros will continue to strongly trend toward walkable urbanism for the foreseeable future. However, the pace of that change will depend on a number of local factors. The age of individual urban landscapes will largely determine a city’s trend toward WalkUPs, since most buildings have a 40-year life. In addition, dominant infrastructure, zoning, and land-use subsidies continue to favor drivable suburban development in many metros, both large and small. True transformation towards walkable urbanism will require advocacy and the support of place management, policy tools, and transportation infrastructure to encourage the future form of American urban development.


All real estate is local. In order to make confident real estate decisions, we believe it is important for you to have timely and neighborhood-specific information. If you would like more information about commercial real estate investing in Western North Carolina, our experts at Beverly-Hanks are here to help. Contact us today to speak with a Beverly-Hanks real estate agent about buying homes and land in WNC.


Photo Copyright: radnatt / 123RF Stock Photo


Pints in Paper Town: BearWaters Brewing Reopens in Canton

Driving around downtown Canton on a recent weekend, it was weird to have a hard time finding a parking space. In most Western North Carolina communities during the busy summer tourist season, this is the norm. But, for the blue-collar paper mill town of Canton, finding a parking spot has never been an issue.

That is, until now.

In the last couple of years, several businesses have popped up in downtown Canton, once again breathing life into a community many looked at as “dead” and “out of business.” But one business was missing, especially when seemingly every single nearby town had one: a brewery.

“It’s a new chapter in my life, a new beginning,” said BearWaters Brewing co-owner/brewmaster Kevin Sandefur. “It’s pretty much a dream realized, to finally open a full-size brewery with production and distribution, [and] a real destination taproom with a restaurant.”

For the last four years, BearWaters was located in Waynesville. But with an increasing need for space and also finding out their property would soon become a Publix supermarket, the brewery started to look for new digs last year. At that time, the Canton town officials were putting feelers out to finally bring a brewery into their downtown. The brewery and the town worked together to make the long-held dream a reality.

With their official grand opening in June 2017, every parking spot within walking distance of BearWaters on Park Street was filled, every single hand hoisting high a craft beer in celebration of a new day in the long and bountiful industrial history of Canton.

“We kind of said this early on when we made this decision [to relocate to Canton]. The town and our company, I think we both have a tenacious and scrappy nature. We’re both fiercely loyal to what we do,” Sandefur said. “There’s been many times that Canton has been written off—‘done’ or ‘over’—and together this is a new beginning for both of us. The mill workers that come over here every day to check on the progress and the town officials, we all feel this sense of hope that we’re going to create this symbiotic relationship to start a new beginning.”

Overtaking an 11,000-square-foot, two-level building in downtown right on the Pigeon River, the brewery will kick things up a notch with its new 20-barrel system, which includes five 20-barrel fermenters and three brite tanks.

Aiming to harness the property’s potential, BearWaters built a river access point for kayakers and tubers looking to stop by for a beverage. They also added a restaurant, the Pigeon River Grille, which features gourmet dishes and southern-inspired favorites. Haywood County businessman Richard Miller (of The Classic Wineseller and Church Street Depot in Waynesville) opened the gastro-pub within the facility. Sandefur noted the cellar below will contain BearWater’s barrel-aging program.

“The Town of Canton is so pumped about this. I think they really expect this to be a catalyst for more growth in the downtown corridor,” Sandefur said. “It’s being looked at as an anchor business to attract future business to be put around this showcase brewery. We’re seeing a lot of professionals from Asheville [coming here]. It’s definitely an exciting time for the town. We feel very fortunate to have this opportunity—the building is absolutely perfect for what we want to do.”


“It’s definitely an exciting time for [Canton]. We feel very fortunate to have this opportunity — the building is absolutely perfect for what we want to do.” —Kevin Sandefur, BearWaters Brewing co-owner


When Sandefur was looking for new investors, he found a special bond and kinship with Art O’Neil, who saw the promise of BearWaters and became a co-owner.

Wandering around the brewery, it’s surreal to see such a vivacious and jovial energy permeating through downtown Canton. For years, perhaps even decades, those fighting for Canton, those in the town’s corner, have been saying “someday, someday.” You begin to realize that “someday” is actually today—right here and now.

“It’s been a journey that definitely has had its twists and turns, and there were definitely times where we didn’t know if we’d make it or not. But with lots of perseverance and determination, we kept fighting and fighting, and we got our breakthrough,” Sandefur said. “I’ve fallen in love with the building. It’s overwhelming and turned out way beyond my expectations. If you focus on what’s at the end of the road, it can happen—[BearWaters] is living proof of that. I’ve had a lot of false starts, but to cross over the goal line, it’s like, ‘My god, this can be done.’”


This post is adapted from our annual Welcome to Western North Carolina magazine. Click here to read more online, or click here to order your own free copy.