The 42-acre site of the former Beacon Blanket Manufacturing Co. in Swannanoa has been vacant ever since an arsonist started a fire that burned the mill buildings to the ground in 2003. But the silence that has engulfed the property since that fateful day will soon be broken by the sounds of new construction.
Last June, Symmetry Financial Group, a Swannanoa-based insurance marketing company, announced that it had purchased the property. Symmetry plans to build an approx. 30,000 square foot 3-story corporate headquarters on the site, with groundbreaking expected some time in late summer.
In an effort to honor the historic character of the old red brick Beacon Mill buildings, Symmetry’s new headquarters will feature a brick-and-glass design, giving the building a rustic factory feel with a modern twist. The new headquarters will include an attached conference facility with a 300-400 person capacity. In addition to serving as conference space for Symmetry, this facility may also be available to rent for outside meetings, weddings and other special events.
Other plans for the site include a proposed 118,000 square foot indoor sports complex, which would occupy about 15 acres and be managed by a separate nonprofit corporation that is in the process of being formed. Symmetry’s owners are committed to working with the nonprofit on a land use agreement and option to purchase.
The sports complex would feature multiple courts for basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, pickleball and other sports. The venue is expected to attract large, regional tournaments on the weekends, but would be open to the public at other times. If the necessary financing and approvals can be secured, construction could begin as early as 2021.
Symmetry co-owners Casey Watkins and Brandon Ellison (who also own Native Kitchen), have strong ties to Swannanoa, and see the former Beacon mill site as an important part of the future of this area. They’re hopeful that the proposed sports complex and other future development on the property will attract jobs and spur revitalization in Swannanoa. “The goal is to be thoughtful about what the property is used for,” Ellison said. “Anything that goes in there needs to be of benefit to the community.”