BANNER ELK — A new six unit housing development known as Blueberry Hill is coming Banner Elk. The development, which has been approved by the Avery County Planning Board and Board of Commissioners, signifies progress the county is making in attracting more affordable housing to the area.
The new development being built by developer Daniel Kidd will be constructed on the eastern end of Banner Elk toward Watauga County. The homes, which will each be limited to around 1,600 square feet, will be constructed off of the intersection of Pigeon Roost Road. Construction is expected to break ground in the spring.
Avery County Director of Planning and Inspections Tommy Burleson said the development is planned to function as affordable workforce housing, meaning the housing units will be able to be eventually rented or owned by working people.
“It’s going to max out around $300,000. You could get in there and build a nice home for around $225,000 or $200,000, something like that,” Burleson said. “It’s low entry level. You don’t have all the whistles and bells of a big subdivision, as well as the amenities fees that a subdivision like Eagles Nest has.”
In a previous article in The Avery Journal-Times, realtor Pam Vines mentioned that homes around the $300,000 price range are especially attractive for families looking to move to the area. However, these homes around the county and elsewhere are few and far between, despite the demand.
“We’re also seeing an uptick of families. They want to spend more quality time (with their kids), but they’re still in the $400,000 and under range, and just about anything under $400,000 is going to be gone in a matter of 48 hours. Once those properties hit the market, there are multiple offers,” Vines said in September.
Burleson said he expects the new unit to attract buyers who are looking at becoming, or staying, full-time residents within the area.
“I would think (the development) would be very attractive to permanent residents,” Burleson said. “But the second-home people are an industry. I like it in that they really help our economy because of the commerce and buying and selling of goods and needing services. It’s a good fit for this area.”
While county officials are hoping that the development will be able to attract similar projects that will be affordable to working families, the work to plan and construct a workforce housing development in Newland is still continuing.
“We’re hoping to get a workforce housing development through Northwest Housing. It’s going to be a (situation) where at least one family member is working and we’re hoping it will be around $175,000 to $250,000, entry level. Of course, they’ve been talking about that for a while,” Burleson said.
County Manager Phillip Barrier said the county is still working on a project that he hopes will be more affordable for local full-time residents.
“The struggle is if I’m an investor, and I’m going to put together $20 million for a project, we say ‘Come and build these affordable houses. We need them,’ and they’re like ‘Why would we do that?’ (They say) ‘We could take our millions of dollars and build apartments in Asheville, Raleigh or Charlotte and rent those for $1,400 a month, where you’re wanting me to build apartments that’s going to rent one for $700 a month,’” Barrier said.