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Personnel file - May 2008: real estate

John F.A.V. Cecil, President
Biltmore Farms Inc., Asheville

Jack Cecil says Biltmore Park, about 1.1 million square feet of condos, town houses, apartments, offices and stores a rock skip from the French Broad River, is his company’s first venture in New Urbanism “unless you want to go back in family history.” A century ago, great-granddad George Vanderbilt built a village near the entrance to Biltmore Estate. “It had a church, train depot, retail and housing, offices, a hospital. It was a mixed-used community,” Cecil says.

Biltmore Dairy Farm was started on the estate in 1897. He joined his father in the business in 1984, the year before they sold the dairy operation to focus on real estate. Cecil, 52, has been president since 1992. His cousin runs The Biltmore Co. (cover story, October 2007); that side got the house when their fathers split the property in 1979.

Biltmore Farms has two other major developments under way: Biltmore Lake, which will have about 800 homes when built out, and The Ramble, which will have about 600. Prices range from about $500,000 to $2.1 million.

Who’s buying? “Obviously, we’re dependent on the Florida market for retirees, but Asheville is also being fed by Atlanta, Charlotte, South Carolina.” And it’s not just retirees who are attracted. “People will move here with their job or bring their own business. We’ve got an increase in the small-business and financial sectors. As the population retires and moves to Asheville, they need money advice and that sort of thing.”