By Jesse Wood
The Waterfront Group, which purchased The Lodges at Eagles Nest in foreclosure about several years ago, is currently giving the former Sunrise Shopping Center an estimated million-dollar facelift.
Renamed the Eagles Nest Marketplace and located at the edge of Banner Elk, the shopping center used to house establishments like Zuzda restaurant before closing last year. Renovations of the 20,000-square-foot facility began in the fall and are valued in the vicinity of a million dollars, according to Steve Cuff, a contractor overseeing the project and other construction at Eagles Nest.
Workers are knocking down walls in the space that housed Zuzda to expand the seating for another restaurant. The new restaurant will have a chop-salad bar, brick-oven-style pizzas and gourmet burgers. One end of the new restaurant will feature a sports bar with big-screen TVs, according to Derek Buchanan of Eagles Nest Realty.
Another restaurant – in the coffee-house style with a breakfast menu and healthy wraps – is planned in the shopping center, too. In addition to the two restaurants, Buchanan said that the Waterfront Group has a letter of intent for a Land of Oz museum, which will feature a space for birthday parties and more, and a Eagles Nest Realty office.
The realty office’s grand opening is planed for around the first of April, while the other establishments in the shopping center won’t open until later in the summer.
Buchanan said the renovated shopping center will serve two purposes. It will give Eagles Nest a presence in the Town of Banner Elk and will clean up a dated property that was close to the point of being an eyesore.
“We also have plans for across the street,” Buchanan said. “We are working with some ideas there, but nothing is set in stone.”
The Bradshaw family built the shopping center years ago, and they currently own the property across the street, where some excavation equipment sits and dirt has been moved.
Rumors of a hotel for the property have spread around town, but Banner Elk’s Zoning Administrator Cheryl Buchanan said no plans for the property have shown up in her office. Members of the Bradshaw family, Phillip and Gene, didn’t return messages seeking comment.
The Lodges at Eagles Nest
Developed by The Turchin Companies in the early 2000s, the Lodges at Eagles Nest development was purchased in foreclosure by the Waterfront Group nearly five years ago. More than 60 lots were sold, ranging from $200,000 to $1-million plus, before the Great Recession reared its head and construction halted. As the Waterfront Group’s website implies, the company hopes to turn Eagles Nest’s “Aspen of the East” vision into a reality.
Derek Buchanan of Eagles Nest Realty said that the Waterfront Group and its partners have taken the ideas from the original developer and “just kind of run with that same theme and multiplied it by 10 times.”
Buchanan noted the many amenities offered at The Lodges at Eagles Nest areas such as North Pavilion, Great Camp, River Club and Double Eagle Lodge. Amenities include a paintball course, pavilion areas, a sportsmen lodge, archery ranges, hiking trails, equestrian trails and center, upgraded ATV trails stables and pastures, multi-use field, sports court, band stage, dog park, walking trails, snow tubing/sledding hills, playground, archery/air rifle range, equestrian center, amphitheater for live music and entertainment, cigar and wine bar, barbecue pavilion, teepee villages, fishing along the Elk River, wildlife rehabilitation area, rental properties open to property owners, guests and potential clients and much more.
Empty lots ranging from 2/10ths of an acre to 12 acres; maintenance free lots and homes; spec homes ranging from 1,600 to 2,500 square feet; river cabins sized at 1,200 square feet; and tiny homes without POA dues area all available.
Buchanan said all of this helps to create a “very high end development that’s not a golf course community, but more of an outdoor and active lifestyle community – and we’ve had a ton of success with it and still have new amenities coming on.”
The success is evident by talking to staff at the Avery County Tax Office, too.
Avery County Tax Administrator Phillip Barrier said that the volume of sales from 2014 to the end of 2016 was 209, mostly vacant lot sales. During 2016, The Lodges at Eagles Nest had 78 sales, totaling $12.8 million.
Barrier said this past year The Lodges at Eagles Nest represented at least half of all development growth in Avery County.
“So Eagles Nest has had a very big financial impact on the county,” Barrier said.
For more information about the The Lodges at Eagles Nest, click here.