The former Watauga High School property, located off Highway 105 about a mile from the main campus, offers new opportunities for Appalachian. Click on the image for a full view. Photo by Marie Freeman
Appalachian 105 is one of several major construction projects underway or being planned over the next three to five years at Appalachian State University to enhance the Appalachian Experience.
The phased project supports the strategic plan of Appalachian and the university’s goals and metrics associated with the University of North Carolina System’s strategic plan. The entire campus community will benefit, beginning with students and athletics.
Watauga County transferred ownership of the former Watauga High School property, located off Highway 105 in Boone, to Appalachian on Sept. 29, 2017. The acquisition of this property, now called Appalachian 105, allows the university to make deliberate choices about growth and build an intentional community.
The property consists of 75 acres and was appraised at $16.7 million.
A portion of the property — the 34 acres that comprised the former high school's track, softball and outdoor tennis courts — has been subdivided with efforts focused on redesigning and upgrading this area to university-level, competition-grade venues for track, softball and tennis.
Appalachian had been exploring other options for development, including student residence halls, a day care facility and student recreation fields. Three interactive listening sessions were held in January 2018, allowing campus and community members to share ideas for the property’s use.
Appalachian's vice chancellor for business affairs, Paul Forte, said other ideas under consideration for future development of the remaining portion of the property include "facilities to meet the university’s needs for collaborative academic spaces, event space, parking, residence halls and additional recreation accommodations for students."
A 180-degree view of the property. Video by Marie Freeman
In October 2018, the UNC Board of Governors approved Appalachian’s requests to designate the Appalachian 105 property as having millennial campus status and to move forward with the conceptual design process. In March 2019, the UNC Board of Governors approved the authority to spend money for the competition and training facilities for the university’s track and field, tennis and softball programs.
The university requested April 29, 2019, that the Boone Town Council and Town of Boone Planning Commission rezone part of the Appalachian 105 property, from B3 to E1 — which means educational without residential. The project is currently in the design phase with CHA Consulting Inc., of Raleigh.
A phased completion of the projects will begin spring 2021. Until new tennis courts are complete, Appalachian’s varsity tennis teams will use the Rivers Street courts. Those courts were resurfaced in fall 2019 and also serve academic tennis classes and University Recreation.
How is it funded?
Competition and training facilities for the university’s track and field and a team support building with locker rooms and public restrooms are expected to cost $11.8 million. These will be funded by donations to Appalachian Athletics’ “A Mountaineer Impact: A Drive for Excellence” fundraising initiative. Funding for other development would need to be determined as plans for those possibilities progress.
Who will benefit?
The entire campus community eventually will benefit from this project. Since the property is being developed in phases, the first groups to benefit will be students and athletics.
How does it support UNC System Goals and Metrics?
An enhanced campus designed with students, faculty, staff and the public in mind supports recruitment and retention of all members of the university and local communities.
Major current projects:
- Conservatory for Biodiversity Education and Research
- Appalachian 105
- Residence halls
- Kidd Brewer Stadium — North End Zone
- Child Development Center Expansion
- Sanford Hall
- Arts Corridor
- Wey Hall
- Boone Creek Daylighting
Capital projects at Appalachian continue, as Gov. Roy Cooper’s March 27, 2020, stay-at-home order considers construction, specifically for housing and on government property, as an essential business activity. For employee safety, contractors are taking protective measures against the coronavirus.
Construction at App State continues because:
• Discontinuing projects would severely impact project costs to the state, requiring more money to re-start an abandoned project and increasing the risk of material delays and some subcontractors going out of business.
• The new residence halls being built under a public-private partnership constitute a ground lease, whereby a private developer has created a timeline and is managing the construction privately. The financial feasibility of the project is based on a specific timeline tied to the academic year.
• In other construction on campus, bond money was approved by Appalachian’s Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian has a fiduciary responsibility to execute construction in the shortest time possible. And, much like a homeowner building a new home with a construction loan, the university is already making payments on the project.
An aerial view of areas receiving millennial campus designation at Appalachian State University. Video by Marie Freeman