Progress on Laurel Creek Hall (Building 300) Oct. 21, as two cranes install prefabricated framing panels. Click on the image for a full view. Photo by Chase Reynolds
New residence halls are among 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 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. It will benefit students, academics and the community.
This major housing project will replace seven residence halls: Bowie, Coltrane, Eggers, Gardner, Winkler, Justice and East. All but East Hall are located on the west side of campus.
Winkler Hall was demolished in 2014, and six others have been recommended for removal due to extensive deferred maintenance needs. The plan calls for replacing nearly 1,800 beds — and adding 300-400 more — while also adding better, more efficient parking.
This $191 million project is part of the Recreational Village (page 93) described in the Master Plan 2025. Current plans are to provide between 2,100 and 2,200 beds of student housing in three phases, with completion dates of fall 2020, fall 2021 and fall 2022.
Architectural renderings of the finished residence halls and parking deck. Images courtesy of Niles Bolton Associates.
A Google Earth image of the area as it looked prior to the start of construction, with buildings and parking areas labeled.
In mid-February 2019, Appalachian and RISE: A Real Estate Company (RISE) signed final paperwork required to develop the multiphase, $191 million housing project in a public-private partnership (P3).
The university selected RISE through a competitive procurement process in 2018. The development of the entire project is planned in three phases, with completion dates of fall 2020, fall 2021 and fall 2022. The residence halls will add approximately 2,100 beds.
In phase one, RISE constructed two residence halls —Thunder Hill Hall (Building 100) and Raven Rocks Hall (Building 200) — on what had been Stadium Parking Lot, totaling 912 beds. Both opened for residents in August 2020. Also part of the project, a parking deck with 477 spaces opened August 2019 at the site of the former Winkler Hall, adding 250 more spaces to that area of campus. This phrase also included replacement of a steam line in the area.
As part of phase two, Laurel Creek Hall’s (Building 300) construction began Feb. 14. The building will have approximately 640 beds. As part of phase three, design is underway for New River Hall (Building 400), which will replace Justice Hall. Demolition of Justice Hall began in June and is expected to be completed in October. Conventional demolition methods with construction equipment are being used.
An official ribbon-cutting ceremony for Thunder Hill and Raven Rocks halls was held Sept. 3 as part of Appalachian’s Founders Day events.
Each of the new residence halls under construction at Appalachian will include a mix of suite- and apartment-style units. On this webpage, click in the upper left corner to toggle between renderings of the two styles. Renderings courtesy of RISE: A Real Estate Company
How is it funded?
Through a public-private partnership, known as a P3, which was given considerable and careful review by Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Paul Forte.
Approximately 330 beds will be constructed by RISE: A Real Estate Company (RISE) and purchased and owned by Appalachian using proceeds from its General Revenue Bonds, Series 2016C to replace the former Winkler Hall. Approximately 1,770 beds and the parking deck will be financed and owned by Beyond Owners Group (Beyond) through tax-exempt debt.
Appalachian sought and received authorization from the Board of Governors in October 2018 to enter into a ground lease agreement with Beyond, which will serve as the foundation for related agreements on the development and management of the 1,770-bed and parking deck portion of the project.
A ground lease is an agreement in which a tenant is permitted to develop a piece of property during the lease period, after which the land and all improvements are turned over to the property owner. The agreement between the university and Beyond will allow Beyond to obtain project financing. Beyond will have a leasehold interest in the project site, and will be obligated to develop the project and own the privately financed improvements for the duration of the ground lease. Appalachian will have the right to approve plans and specifications for the project.
Through the P3, Appalachian will save more than $73 million over the cost of developing the property on its own. The P3 is made possible by millennial campus designation.
Who will benefit?
First-year and upper-division students who wish to stay on campus in an environment that promotes their academic and personal success will benefit. Community members attending campus events benefit from the additional parking available in the new parking deck, as well as those participating in summer youth camps and professional conferences hosted by Appalachian, which rely on university housing for accommodations.
How does it support UNC System Goals and Metrics?
The first-year experience for both first-year and transfer residential students plays a significant role in student success at Appalachian. Research conducted nationally, as well as on campus by Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning, has shown that students who participate in on-campus housing activities tend to become more involved in campus events, make more friends, create more robust connections with peers and faculty/staff, earn higher grades and are retained at a higher level.
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.
A 360-degree view shot in October 2018 of the site for new residence halls, parking deck and end zone project. Video by Marie Freeman
An aerial view of areas receiving millennial campus designation at Appalachian State University. Video by Marie Freeman