BOONE — After “a few hiccups” the Appalachian 105 project is being repackaged, with plans now to first build track and tennis facilities at the site instead of the softball field, Appalachian State’s trustees were told last month.
Appalachian State purchased the 75-acre old Watauga High School property from Watauga County in 2017, and “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,” according to ASU.
Some of the facilities require relocation because of the Kidd Brewer Stadium north end zone project; others will be enhanced to improve facilities for student-athletes.
The project was estimated at $11.8 million, but ASU Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Paul Forte told a board of trustees committee on June 21 that an architect selected for the project had not signed off on a state contract for construction. Forte said that university leaders have decided to move to a design-build process to save money, and that the track and tennis courts would be constructed before the softball field, which did not have to be relocated as soon as leaders originally thought.
A phased completion of the track and tennis projects is expected for spring 2021, followed by softball, ASU said.
The site is currently home to approximately 1,100 freshman vehicles, displaced from the State Farm Lot due to the parking need for the Leon Levine Hall of Health Sciences that opened in 2018.
Appalachian State has not yet announced finalized plans for development of the rest of the 75-acre property.
Other options for development include 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.
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.”
At the June 21 meeting, Appalachian State Trustee Carole Wilson asked about the potential for a hotel and conference center at the site.
Forte said that the proposal was being discussed by university leaders, and that it can be difficult to identify the highest and best uses for sites as part of public-private partnerships.
“We have to be careful about everything we do that the numbers work,” Forte said.