Article by Elisabeth Wall/ Appalachian State News Bureau
BOONE, N.C.—The official transfer of the old Watauga High School property to Appalachian State University from Watauga County took place Friday, Sept. 29. The property is located at 400 High School Drive in Boone.
Last April, the university agreed to pay $15.5 million over 20 years for the property and, in exchange, agreed to turn over ownership of its Business Affairs Annex building, located at 1039 State Farm Road in Boone, to the county.
“A trusting and symbiotic relationship between the university and surrounding community has advanced, enriched and enhanced quality of life in the High Country for more than a century,” Chancellor Sheri N. Everts said. “This transition is a true win-win in sustaining smart and sound development opportunities for the university and the county, from which our entire community will benefit.”
When the exchange was announced, County Commissioner Vice Chairman Billy Kennedy said, “The university is the county’s largest economic engine. It makes sense to find ways to partner together, allowing the university to grow in a sustainable manner and allowing the county to enrich the lives of our citizens. This transaction meets a goal of realizing a community health and wellness center the county has had for more than three decades. It will also have significant economic impact, attracting new business and new residents while also serving our current local population.”
The university is exploring options for development of the new acquisition, including student residence halls, a daycare facility and student recreation fields. Additionally, the property’s current parking configuration accommodates 500 spaces, which could offer a short-term alleviation for limited parking available on the university’s main campus.
In April, Kennedy said, “Acquiring this property will make it easier to develop a community area that will offer close proximity to existing recreational facilities including ball fields, tennis courts and the greenway, as well as the medical center.”
The State Farm exchange provides contiguous recreation area for the county and the ability to build a new swimming complex that would serve Watauga High School’s swim team, Kennedy said.
The old Watauga High School property’s appraised value was $16,794,000 as of Feb. 25, 2016. The Business Affairs Annex property on State Farm Road is approximately 3.5 acres, and its appraised value was $2,819,000 as of Jan. 12, 2016.