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A meditation hall, formerly part of Heavenly Mountain, was part of the property that was auctioned earlier this summer. Photo submitted

Originally published: 2011-10-27 09:39:37
Last modified: 2011-10-27 09:40:00

Developers share details on plans for Forest Summit

Developers of a 381-acre tract outside Boone known as Forest Summit are aiming for a July 2012 opening for a new center focused on holistic health and stress-free living.

The land, part of the original Heavenly Mountain community created in the 1990s, was purchased Oct. 14 at a cost of $6.35 million.

The buyer, Blue Ridge Preservation Inc., issued a statement indicating that the International Center for Peace and Well-Being would soon occupy the grounds.

The center plans to work with the Art of Living Foundation, the International Association for Human Values and the Ved Vignan Maha Vidya Peeth, sister groups that emphasize stress management and humanitarian work.

Nilendu Srivastava, director of VVMVP, provided more information about the organization's plans Tuesday.

Srivastava said the center would allow short-term or long-term programs of meditation, yoga, spa treatments, detoxification and other activities to rejuvenate participants' bodies and minds.

He said the programs are appropriate for children through adults, and other programs focus on veterans.

Srivastava said they plan to keep the existing buildings and refurbish them, using some for those residential programs.

"With this facility, they can come here and live here for 30 days, 60 days depending on the need, and they are living in a different kind of environment," he said.

The current tenants of apartments on the property - many of whom are Appalachian State University students - may have an opportunity to continue living there in the future.

"Our focus is to work with the university students, because they are the future for our country, so we want to work with them and we are going to keep them," he said.

The number of apartments that will be offered to renters and to guests of the center is not yet final, he said.

Planning has already started at the property, and local contractors may be hired to restore the facilities during the next eight months, Srivastava said.

While the land includes about 26 buildings, a large portion of the steep plot is undeveloped forest.

"Most of it will remain that way - that's what we think," Srivastava said. "Down the road, we may have some of that acreage, we may take and develop into organic farming and those kind of things."

Despite some similarities, the organization has no ties to Transcendental Meditation, he said, which was the original focus of Heavenly Mountain.

Srivastava said the buyers were obviously pleased to get the land at a cost only about 15 percent of the $40 million spent by brothers Earl and David Kaplan to develop the land.

"We are really happy to be there, and we want to work with the community and eventually offer them programs for happy living," he said.