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$10 million ‘River Club’ to be developed beside WCU

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Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 1:45 pm | Updated: 1:55 pm, Wed Mar 6, 2013.

A 125-acre development in Cullowhee near Western Carolina University is expected to bring 281 housing units to the area over the next five years.

Landscape architect Tim Newell said the houses in the “Cullowhee River Club on the Tuckaseigee” will range in price from $200,000-$400,000 and consist of single- to multi-family homes. The development’s entrance will be from Old Cullowhee Road near Dix Gap.

Newell said the development will not be a gated community and that it is unlike other subdivisions in Jackson County.

The property that will house the new subdivision is known locally as the Battle farm and developers acquired 125 of its 133 acres from Ben Battle Jr.

Plans on file with the Planning Department indicate the project will have five phases and consist of 61 river-view cottages/single-family homes; 41 ridge cottages farther up the property; 32 river-view townhomes; 92 ridgeline townhomes; 36 lodge condos and 19 river condos.

The single-family homes will have two to three bedrooms and range in size from 1,800 to 2,500 square feet. They will be situated on quarter- or third-acre lots in cluster-development style. The multi-family buildings will feature three to four bedrooms with the units in clusters of four. They will be 1,600 to 1,800 square feet.

Amenities on the property will include a restaurant and lounge, swimming pool, tennis courts, meeting facilities, river pavilion, boat ramp, boat house, and hiking and biking trails. Jackson County planners have to approve the plans before construction can start. The planning board will likely look at the subdivision plans during its Thursday, March 14, meeting, which is scheduled at 5:30 p.m.

Road construction should start in April, Newell said, if plans are approved.

County Planning Director Gerald Green said developers hope to reduce impervious surfaces, since the subdivision is near water, and have asked that they be allowed to reduce some required road widths from 20 feet to 18 feet.

The homes will blend with the mountain landscape, Newell said during a Tuesday telephone interview.

“These will be designed very true to mountain vernacular – earth tones and rustic looks,” he said.

The price tag of the development will likely exceed $10 million, and employ a number of local contractors and individuals, he said.

“My philosophy has always been to use anything you can get locally,” he said, adding that pricing must be competitive.

The planned development differs from other subdivisions in the county because it’s a new model for real estate development, he said.

“Western North Carolina is littered with shut down, foreclosed communities,” he said. “Now we’re in a new reality in the real estate world. Old models don’t work anymore.”

Newell cited three factors that will differentiate his development from others and make it a success – its proximity to WCU; the demand of the second-home market; and the retiree market.

WCU will have a high-end housing community right next door, which it’s never had before, he said. Newell said he also hopes MedWest employees will settle there instead of locating in Haywood County and driving to work in Sylva.

“Our in-depth market study has revealed the appropriate mix of housing types, price points, and amenities for the market sectors that we believe to be viable,” said Newell. “We evaluated the market demand for single-family and multi-family homes as well as a river lodge and restaurant with meeting and event facilities.”

Although the subdivision will offer a range of amenities typical to private club communities there are no plans to make this a gated community, Newell said, adding that the river lodge restaurant and accommodations will be open to the public.

According to Newell, WCU Chancellor David Belcher welcomes the development of additional housing options close to campus.

Additional maps of the proposed development accompany the online version of this story.

Sylva, NC

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