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Biltmore Park

A Brief History of Biltmore Park Neighborhood
The Biltmore Estate and Biltmore Farms
George Washington Vanderbilt II  was the youngest child of William Henry Vanderbilt and Maria Louisa Kissam.   As the youngest of William's children, George was said to be his father's favorite and his constant companion. When William died in 1885 of a stroke, he left a fortune of approximately $200 million, the bulk of which was split between his two elder sons, Cornelius Vanderbilt II and William K. Vanderbilt. George W. Vanderbilt inherited $2 million from his grandfather and received another million dollars on his 21st birthday from his father. Upon his father's death, he inherited $5 million more, as well as the income from a $5 million trust fund.
In 1888 George Vanderbilt began to buy land in the mountains of western North Carolina.  At its peak Vanderbilt owned 125,000 acres of land stretching from the Biltmore Estate to Mount Pisgah.  He honored his Dutch roots by naming his estate Biltmore: from “Bildt”, the town in Holland from which his family originated, and “moor”, an English word meaning rolling countryside.  The Biltmore Estate was built between 1889 and 1895.  Vanderbilt, with his architects Hunt and Olmstead, also built Biltmore Village which was incorporated in 1893.  
George Vanderbilt formed Biltmore Farms (BF) company in 1897 as an agricultural endeavor.  Subsequent successes included the Biltmore School of Forestry and Biltmore Dairy Farms.  
George Vanderbilt died of appendicitis in 1914, and the estate faced economic challenges including a new property tax burden during World-War I.   Edith Vanderbilt completed the sale of 86,700 wooded acres to the US Forest Service, which eventually became Pisgah National Forest.  An historic flood devastated Biltmore Village and the Biltmore Estate in 1916 causing additional economic hardship.  Edith sold Biltmore Estate Industries in 1917 and Biltmore Village in 1921.  In 1920 she approved the sale of 1451 acres that became the incorporated town of Biltmore Forest in 1923.  
The Vanderbilts' only child, Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt, married a British aristocrat, the Hon. John Francis Amherst Cecil (a descendant of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley) in 1924. Their sons, George and William, eventually inherited the Biltmore property. George Cecil, the elder of the two sons, chose to inherit the majority of the estate's land and the Biltmore Farms Company, which was more profitable than the house at the time. The younger son, William Cecil, was thus left with Biltmore House, and he is credited with preserving the chateau which (though still privately owned) is open to the public.
The land that became Biltmore Park and the Ramble remained forested and was used mainly for hunting and horse trails until its residential development. 
Biltmore Dairy Farms continued to be a successful enterprise through most of the 1900s. In 1985 the dairy business was sold to Pet, Inc.  Biltmore Farms transformed itself into a real estate and community development firm. The company’s present day divisions focus on hotels, commercial real estate, home building, and planned communities. Through the establishment of the Western North Carolina Development Association, Biltmore Farms also led efforts to establish the WNC Farmers’ Market, the North Carolina Arboretum, the WNC Agricultural Center and the extension of Interstate 26 into Tennessee.
Jack Cecil was promoted to company president in 1992.   Businesses in 2020 include:
  • Biltmore Farms Communities
  • Biltmore Lake
  • Biltmore Park
  • The Ramble
  • Biltmore Farms Homes - building homes in several communities including Biltmore Lake, Southcliff, and Fox Run Preserve.
  • Biltmore Farms Hotels
  • Biltmore Farms Commercial, which manages Biltmore Park Town Square.
Construction of Braeside and Braeside Homeowners Association (HOA)
Braeside at Biltmore Park, the first phase of our neighborhood, was platted in 1993.  Home construction began immediately, with a second phase beginning in 1995.  Amenities include a 3 acre informal park, and a half-mile paved wooded walking trail.  Braeside has 98 lots, with only 2 remaining undeveloped in 2020.  Braeside streets include Red Fox Circle, Crocus Lane, Conifer Court, Bent Oak Lane, Braeside Circle, North Braeside Lane, South Braeside Court, and 2 homes on Deerhaven Lane.   Braeside operated independently until 2017, when it merged with the Biltmore Park Association (BPA).  Dues were low at $120 per year, and did not include pool membership. 
Construction of Biltmore Park and Biltmore Park Homeowners Association (BPA) 
Biltmore Farms began construction of Biltmore Park in 1995.  The neighborhood was platted and built in several distinct sections or subdivisions, intended to have different residential character and price-points.  489 lots range in size from 0.07 acres  to 8.2 acres.  The neighborhood is unique in Asheville for its sidewalks, greenways, parks, pool, and access to schools and shopping.  Biltmore Park has become very popular, especially for new Asheville residents and families.  This has resulted in property value inflation exceeding the rest of WNC.   
The subdivisions originally associated with the Biltmore Park Association are:
  • “The Holt” includes Holt Lane, Baneberry Ct. and Sorrel Court.  
  • “Glen Oaks” platted in 1995, includes Pinchot, Woodvine, Columbine, Olmstead and Chicory.  Many of the homes in Glen Oaks were built by Saussy Burbank or the Broadlands Company.
  • “Heathbrook”, platted in 1998, includes Heathbrook, Kentmere, and Kenton.
  • “Burnside”, platted in 1998, includes Burnside, Ellicot, Bearberry and Vibernum.
  • “Oakbrook”, platted in 1999, includes White Ash, Rosebay, Dianthus, Red Cedar and Yellowwood Court.
  • “Garden Homes” platted in 2001, includes White Ash East, Leucothoe, and Shortia.
  • “Town Square East”, platted in 2003, includes Dayflower and Dearborn
  • “Ducker West”, platted in 2003, includes Coopers Hawk.
During the early stages of development, it was envisioned that each subdivision would be treated as a sub-association with BPA serving as the Master Association but this never came to fruition.  The stone monuments throughout Biltmore Park reflect these subdivisions. 
In 2015, the boards of Braeside and Biltmore Park began discussions to merge the two associations.   Under the leadership of Biltmore Park president Cathy McCartan, Charlie Hume, and Kevin Mahoney, this merger came to fruition in November 2017, with approval by the memberships of both associations.   This required minor changes to each set of covenants.  Dues became unified and now include pool membership for all residents.  The combined Biltmore Park Association now includes 575 homes and a handful of undeveloped lots.  Amenities include the pool, clubhouse, tennis court, basketball court, over 2 miles of paved walking trails, and numerous parks scattered throughout the neighborhood. 
Annexation by the City of Asheville
In May of 1994, Biltmore Farms (BF) and the City of Asheville (COA) signed an agreement whereby the COA would construct a sewer interceptor line and BF would petition for voluntary annexation as portions of Biltmore Park were completed. Sewer service would be provided by the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) and water service would be provided by the COA.
Following the completion of the subdivisions, the majority of Biltmore Park residential properties were annexed within COA limits based on the 1994 agreement and the majority of roadways, constructed to city standards, were dedicated and accepted by the City for public use. As a result, residential properties would now be required to pay Asheville City property tax in exchange for city services including police, fire, trash collection, and street maintenance.     
In February of 2010, the Biltmore Park Association (BPA) discovered that several roadways had been omitted from the initial dedication and petitioned the City of Asheville to assume ownership of Coopers Hawk Drive, Golden Eagle Drive, Yellowood Drive, Red Cedar Lane, White Ash Drive, Shortia Lane and Leucothoe Lane.
On April 8th 2010, Biltmore Farms deeded ownership and maintenance responsibility for Coopers Hawk Drive and Golden Eagle Drive to BPA. Shortly thereafter BPA worked with elected state officials to exclude Coopers Hawk Drive from proposed legislation that would prevent annexation by the City and petitioned COA to begin the annexation process. On Oct 26, 2010 the Asheville City Council passed an ordinance extending the city corporate limits to include Coopers Hawk Drive. Golden Eagle Drive was excluded because it didn’t meet the necessary minimum criteria (three or more occupied residences owned by separate individuals).
On May 24, 2011 the Asheville City Council adopted a resolution to also accept ownership of Yellowood Drive, Red Cedar Lane, White Ashe Drive and Shortia Lane.
At this point in time, Leucothoe Lane was the only roadway not accepted by the City (despite the fact that residential owners on the street were paying city property tax) due to questions about the structural integrity of the roadway, sidewalk, and large adjoining retaining wall.  With a lack of street maintenance services, Leucothoe Lane residents urged BPA to correct this anomaly for many years. In 2018, BPA negotiated a cost-sharing agreement with Biltmore Farms to remediate portions of the roadway, sidewalk, and strengthen the retaining wall. With an agreement in-hand, BPA and BF worked with the COA defining the conditions for acceptance. On September 9, 2019, the City of Asheville accepted ownership of Leucothoe Lane along with the adjoining sidewalk and retaining wall.
The Biltmore Park Pool 
The Biltmore Park Pool was built by Biltmore Farms in 1998, but was not included as a neighborhood amenity.  The pool was operated by the privately funded Biltmore Park Swim Club (BPSC), for the benefit of the neighborhood. The pool membership fee of $300 was separate from association dues, and less than half of Braeside and BPA residents chose to become members. The BPSC business model was unsustainable for the long term, and both the pool and clubhouse were in danger of reverting back to Biltmore Farms ownership. BPSC President Cathy McCartan petitioned BPA to assume ownership of the facilities. BPA, under the leadership of president Charlie Hume, took ownership of the pool on 4/12/2012 and the BPSC corporation was dissolved. Braeside residents retained optional pool membership from 2012 until Braeside merged with the Biltmore Park Association in 11/2017. Access to the Biltmore Park pool and clubhouse are now included in Biltmore Park Association dues. 
The Biltmore Park Stingrays is a competitive swim team organized at the pool each summer.  The swim team is open to BPA residents ages 5 to 18, and a small number of non-residents. Coaches teach the children how to swim, and the neighborhood comes out to support them at swim meets. The Stingrays compete against other local swim teams in several meets per year. 
Local Public Schools
There are several springs that arise from the south side of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Hendersonville Road, and flow into the French Broad River. These springs gave name to Valley Springs Township, south of Asheville. Also, Valley Springs Road carried car traffic across Biltmore Farms land.  This path still runs from Hendersonville Road into The Ramble, through the Biltmore estate, along the French Broad river, and into Biltmore Park.  
Valley Springs School, a two-story brick building at the corner of Long Shoals and Overlook Road, opened in 1919.  It included grades 1-12 for many decades, and educated a number of prominent Asheville residents.  Ed Warrick was principal from 1935 to 1953.  Guy L Ensley was principal from 1953 to 1962.  William W Estes was the principal from 1962 to 1980. In the surrounding area there were many smaller schools, including Shiloh which served the predominantly black neighborhood of south Asheville. During the 1940s and 1950s, these schools were segregated, leading up to desegregation in 1962. The original Valley Springs School building became Valley Springs Middle School from 1962 to 1991.  The building closed in 1991, and was demolished to make way for ball fields.  Koontz intermediate school was built in 2016 on the site of the old Valley Springs School. 
T.C. Roberson High School, located at 250 Overlook Road, was founded in 1962, when Valley Springs High School and Biltmore High School were combined to form one larger high school. TCR is named for Thomas Crawford Roberson, superintendent of Buncombe County Schools from 1935 to 1969, and the architect of the consolidation of 21 county high schools into the 6 high schools that exist in 2020. TCR has two feeder schools – Valley Springs Middle School and half of the students from Cane Creek Middle School. (The other half of Cane Creek Middle students matriculate to Reynolds High School).  TCR occupies 261,000 sf, and serves over 1500 students.  
T.C. Roberson is located adjacent to W.W. Estes Elementary School, Valley Springs Middle School, and Charles T. Koontz Intermediate School, making it convenient for both parents and students. Roberson and Estes are also home to the Progressive Education Program (PEP) which is dedicated to students with mental and physical disabilities.  Buncombe County Schools include 6 traditional high schools, 11 middle and intermediate schools, and 24 elementary schools. 
William W. Estes Elementary School, named for its first principal and beloved principal of TCR, was opened as a K-5 elementary school in 1980. It was a consolidation of two K-8 schools in this area, Biltmore School and Valley Springs. Valley Springs became the middle school for the Roberson district. Estes Elementary has been a recognizable and active part of the South Buncombe community for decades.  

Valley Springs Middle School opened its current building in 1991, replacing the brick building which had served as Valley Springs High School and Valley Springs Middle School for many years.  Principal Ben Alexander (2019-present) attended the school himself several years ago.

Charles T. Koontz Intermediate School opened in 2016, consolidating 5th grade from Estes Elementary and Cane Creek Elementary, and 6th grade from Valley Springs Middle. Koontz is named for the 1969-1982 principal of TC Roberson high school.  The building is LEED certified, with skylights in each classroom and many other energy efficient features.   Koontz is the only BCS school to require student uniforms.
The original Biltmore School, just south of Biltmore Village on Hendersonville Road,  is an historic building that has been preserved and repurposed.  After it’s life as a school, it served as the Buncombe County Schools office and Buncombe County Sheriff’s office.  As of 2020, it is a professional building, with medical and dental tenants.
Construction of Biltmore Park Town Square
Biltmore Park Town Square is the urban center of Biltmore Park.  Town Square sits on 42 acres and is managed by Biltmore Farms.  A mixed use residential and commercial development, it is the first of its kind in WNC.  The Reuter YMCA was one of the first buildings to open in 2003.  The Hilton - Biltmore Park Hotel, REI, and Regal Theater opened in 2008.   Barnes and Noble bookstore and OP Taylor’s toy store followed in 2009.  
Due to the recession of 2008-2009, Town Square got a very slow start.  Many condos and storefronts remained vacant for years.  A second blow to these businesses came in 2020, when the global COVID pandemic forced restrictions on businesses nationwide.  Regal theater closed for a year.  Restaurants and bars were required by NC law to limit patronage to 25% capacity.  Retail businesses also limited customer access and shifted to on-line sales.  
Future content:
  Construction of The Ramble
  Variety of social events
  Covenants and Articles of incorporation, changes
Collected from many internet sources by Gary Curran in 2020.  
Thanks to Charlie Hume and Cathy McCartan for their contributions.