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JEFFERSON, NC-A 477-acre tract of land here that could be the region’s next mountain resort went unsold at auction earlier this month after the bids came in well under the seller’s private reserve price of $11.4 million. The auctioneer now says it expects to sell the Phoenix Mountain property on the open market for just under $8 million.

The seller, a family LLC that owns additional acre around what was offered for sale, opted to accept none of the bids after a meeting last week with the officials from Sheldon Good & Co., the real estate auction company. Bids were due Nov. 15.

“Based on interest from non-conforming bidders, the seller has directed us to open the process to the market,” says Sheldon Good president Alan Kravitz. “We anticipate a selling range at or above $7.96 million.”

Known as Phoenix Mountain, the property sits at 4,600 feet, has a mile of highway frontage, 150,000 gallons per day of sewer capacity and no zoning restrictions. The property’s open zoning and sewer capacity is enough for 1,800 residential units at a minimum, plus a hotel, condominium and a ski operation, says Kravitz.

Due to the property’s elevation, Kravitz says it would provide longer seasons and longer ski runs than most of the competition. Additionally, Kravitz says a buyer could donate certain portions of the property that would not affect its development to gain some significant immediate tax benefits.

For those looking for a larger tract, Kravitz says the owner may be willing to offer the buyer a right of first offer on additional surrounding land. “We did a financial modeling of the economic scenarios for the property with the University of North Carolina business and accounting departments that are part of the bidders’ package,” Kravitz says. “The returns are significant.”

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