Beacon Manufacturing – once the largest blanket manufacturer in the world – closed its doors in 2002, leaving behind a vast complex of buildings and a community devastated by the loss of jobs and opportunities. When the empty structures were destroyed by an arsonist’s fire in 2003, the community mourned once again.
This September, it will have been 10 years since the plant burned. During all those years, Swannanoans have waited, with a mixture of curiosity and hope, to see what might become of the Beacon site. Although the rubble of the ruined buildings has been cleared, there has been no hint of new life on the 42-acre site, which occupies a prime location in the heart of the Swannanoa community.
The site is owned by Gordon Myers, a former Ingles executive, and the estate of Bob Ingle, former chief of the Ingles supermarket chain. Myers and Ingle, through their investment company, Swannanoa Valley Properties, LLC, purchased the property in 2005 for $1 million.
The site has been on the market off and on for a number of years. Myers told the Asheville Citizen-Times in January that “the market has been soft as far as retail expansion goes, and we’re just waiting for the market to come back right now. We’re looking at different alternate uses of that property, which could go from distribution to manufacturing to a comprehensive mixed-use development plan.”