Monday, May 31, 2010

Balsam's New Owner Takes a Long-Term View

Check out this article from the Smoky Mountain News, a local paper here in Waynesville. The writer interviewed Mark Antoncic, Balsam's new owner, about the state of the local master-planned real estate market as well as the overall global market dynamics. An interesting read with insights from an industry expert. Click here for the whole story.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Balsam Mountain Club Re-opens

Amid all the gloom and doom reports about the golf course/real estate development business locally and worldwide emerges the rise from the ashes of Balsam Mountain Preserve, which went from foreclosure to re-opening in just more than six months.

A 4,440-acre private community between Sylva and Waynesville that includes an 18-hole
Arnold Palmer designed golf course, BMP opened to rave reviews in 2008. The course, which offers spectacular views and demands golfers not stray far from fairways that provide punishing, steep resting places for balls that don't go straight, was named the state's Best New Course by the N.C. Golf Panel.

But the course, along with the entire development, shut down in Oct. 2009 and faced foreclosure proceedings when $19.8 million in loans came due, despite having sold 230 of its planned 354 homesites at an average price of $530,000. BMP laid off nearly half of its 80 employees and was in danger of joining the long list of casualties of a severely depressed financial market.

“It's rare for a development like this to be turned around and saved,” said Ken Costanzo, the new president of BMP. “It's remarkably rare to do it in six months, to go from foreclosure to being open again. “We had an investment bank and some property owners who had a huge desire to turn things around here, and they made it happen.”

The golf course is scheduled to re-open for play in mid-May and marketing and sales of the remaining 120 home sites will resume. Other amenities — including a sports camp with fitness center,
tennis courts and swimming pool, horseback riding, camping sites, nature center, restaurant and lounge — will also be available.

Nestled within the Blue Ridge Mountains, BMP also has 3,000 acres of protected land, 34 miles of trails and 38 miles of streams. “This is a positive story that could have been a horror story for the property owners,” said Mark Antoncic, managing partner of the Vestlyn BMP LLC, which now owns and operates the development. “We don't have a financial partnership with the property owners, but the community support we received made it possible for us to make this work.”

Antoncic said BMP retained 120 of 150 golf memberships despite the upheaval.

“This community came together and decided there was no way we were going to fail,” home owner and property owner Harry Avant said. “This is a special place with special people. Our golf membership dues increased a little bit, but everybody stepped forward to help. “This is the prettiest mountain course I've ever played, and now our biggest worry is looking up too soon on my golf swing to enjoy the beauty of this place.”

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ken Costanzo Named Balsam's New President

An international resort industry veteran will oversee the next phase of development and operations at Balsam Mountain Preserve, the luxury residential community in the heart of the Great Smokey Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina.

Ken Costanzo, the former president of Gary Player Real Estate, has been named President of Balsam, which features an Arnold Palmer golf course and 4,400 acres of nature preserve surrounding 354 home sites, seventy percent of which have already been sold. Costanzo will be accountable for all club operations, managing the community's extensive facilities, and the sale of its 123 remaining available homesites.

Announcement of Costanzo’s appointment was made here today by Mark Antoncic, the managing partner of TriLyn LLC, the institutional real estate investment company representing the residential community's owner, Vestlyn BMP LLC. “We’re extremely excited about Ken leading this project to its completion and realizing its promise as one of the country’s most desirable resort communities,” Antoncic said.

Costanzo said: “It’s a privilege to be involved in the Balsam community, which offers such exceptional resort amenities in one of America’s most beautiful and peaceful settings. I look forward to working with all our homeowners and our entire team as we bring this wonderful project to fruition. ”

Costanzo has 25 years of real estate and business operations experience, including the development and management of high-end residential properties around the world. He has successfully led and advised development teams, for major real estate projects in the U.S, Canada, the Caribbean, and South America. Costanzo has also served as the Chief Operations Officer of The Cliffs Communities where he managed all facets of operations spanning seven master-planned resorts in the U.S. and Canada.

In prior years, Mr. Costanzo held several general management positions with W. R. Grace & Co., a $7 billion corporation whose worldwide businesses included real estate construction, restaurants, retail, and manufacturing operations. He holds both a BA and Masters degree and resides in Greenville, South Carolina.

About Balsam Mountain Preserve:

A 4,400-acre private community nestled in the Western North Carolina Mountains near Asheville, Balsam Mountain Preserve features an Arnold Palmer Signature golf course, dining and resort lodging facilities, 32 miles of hiking trails, fishing streams and other amenities, all of which have been completed. Homes constructed at Balsam represent some of the finest examples of high-end mountain architecture in the country. Seventy percent of the property has been placed in a permanent conservation easement to protect its present park-like state. For more information visit:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Links Magazine Names Balsam One Of America's Premier Properties For 2010

Balsam Mountain Preserve was recognized by Links Magazine in its "America's Premier Properties" edition. Balsam was given special recognition as one of the Best Communities For Outdoor Pursuits, along with communities in Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Montana, just to name a few. Links noted, "Sure, golf is an outdoor sport, but it can't match the exhilaration that comes with activities like mountain biking, whitewater rafting, or hunting. Many of Links' Premier Properties provide access to lakes, rivers, trails, and mountains, and if you're just as apt to pack your rod and reel as your golf clubs, check out one of the following 14 properties".

The magazine went on to say specifically about Balsam, "At Balsam Mountain Preserve, residents can explore the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains on their own, whether hiking the 34 miles of trails or fishing the 38 miles of streams, or they can benefit from the expertise of the on-site naturalists".

Thanks to Links Magazine for this exciting and prestigious recognition!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The New Balsam Mountain Trust Website

The brand-new Balsam Mountain Trust website is on-line and waiting for your discovery at No other community in the mountains of North Carolina offers its owners and the surrounding community such a life enriching resource. Check it out to see what we mean!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Custom Home Listing

At 2,660 heated and cooled square feet, this home feels larger than it is because of its open floor plan. Building features include care from the owner with regards to the environment and energy savings. Low electric bills are reflective of Icynene insulated exterior walls and ceilings. Stained concrete radiant floors provide even warmth during winter months. At 3,448 feet in elevation, this homeowner has not found the need to use air conditioning during the summer months. Each room enjoys large windows which view the Plott Balsam range and a surrounding ridge of Balsam Mountain Preserve. Being able to view mountains while walking on the brick patio and lawn increases the livability of this home. The main floor master has an oversized closet which should satisfy most folks' needs. The master bath features a large glass enclosed tumbled marble shower, heated towel racks, a double sink area, and a Bain Ultra Air tub with a window above, allowing the bather to enjoy a view of the mountains. White wood shutters add a finishing touch to this area.

Hemlocks were gathered on property and sent to a local saw mill for exterior reverse board and batten walls, and example of sustainability practices. An old bridge was reinvented and used for the staircase, bar top, and guest bathroom cabinet tops. The powder room barn door was built to continue the rustic elements of this well planned home. Poplar bark is used at the entrance and rear patio to offer texture to an already beautiful exterior. The kitchen is open but separate. Here you will find a Thermador oven and range, a warming drawer, and a microwave drawer which makes this a very efficient and easy to manage area in which to entertain. The entire home lends itself to entertaining all the new friends you will surely meet at Balsam Mountain Preserve.

The home offers a very harmonious feeling by the choice of colors and elements. Careful planning and shifting of an existing Al Platt Architectural plan makes this home truly enjoyable. A mix of wood and drywall make the home very welcoming but not too rustic. Additional separate zone radiant heating can be found in the garage, where the floor has also been acid stained.

List Price: $1,665,000
Architect: Al Platt
Builder: John Thompson

Main Level: 1,880 sq. ft. per homeowner/Upper Level: 780 sq. ft. per homeowner/3 bedroom/3.5 baths

To view an on-line brochure of this home, click here. To speak with a community consultant about this home or any of the available homes at Balsam, click here.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Judaculla Rock in Cullowhee

September 18th the book club discussed the book One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus. The book is about white American women being traded to the Cheyenne in 1875 in order to teach the Cheyenne the white peoples way of living. Some of the sections, especially the ending, were gruesome. I shared with the ladies that after I read the book I was very upset by the ending and felt a need to feel grounded. I thought a hike might help me feel better, even though it was raining. While I was at the library researching hiking trails in the area I remembered there was a rock in the area with petroglyphs carved in it. I suddenly had a mission to find the rock. A quick phone call to Mara at the front desk in the Boarding House gave me the information I needed to get there. Judaculla Rock is a large (probably 10 X 14 feet) soapstone rock carved with images. A turtle, octupus and squid are visible as well as stick people drawings. As I sat there I couldn't help but think of all the people over the ages who have called these mountains home. They estimate the etchings were done between 3000 BC and 1000 BC. If you would like to study the rock and maybe even unlock its message here's how to get there. Go south on SR 23 to Sylva exit 85. At the intersection where you have to go left or right, turn left onto SR 107 toward Western Carolina University. Follow SR 107 for 9 miles and turn left onto Caney Fork Road. There's a BP gas station on the right. Continue for 3 miles and bear left. It's well marked. The rock is located in the field at the end of the farm road. I hope you enjoy the rock as much as I did.