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Watauga Commissioners Receives $15M Offer on Old Watauga High School Property, More Student Housing?

By Jesse Wood

Sept. 28, 2012. According to the agenda packet for Watauga County Board of Commissioners’ Tuesday meeting, Campus Crest Development has submitted an offer to purchase the old Watauga High School property for $15 million. 

Rick Miller is the buyer’s agent and is requesting a 10 percent commission. Campus Crest Development has requested 180 days to inspect the property. 

According to the packet, “The board may accept the offer, counter the offer, or reject the offer. Should the board wish to accept the offer, Campus Crest Development would be required to deposit 5 percent ($750,000) of the purchase amount with the county.

“The county would be required to publish a notice of the offer, in which the notice would state that within 10 days any person may raise the bid by not less than ten percent of the first $1,000 and five percent of the remainder. The process would continue until there are no longer any upset bids.”

This would be the highest offer the board of commissioners has received on the property in several years. Although, the $15 million offer doesn’t come close to the $33 million that was offered in 2006, and the two other offers in the same year that were comparable to that $33 million offer. 

This current offer is more than the 2011 appraisal of the property for $9.07 million but doesn’t come close to the $20 million the board sought last year. 

In 2011, the commissioners received two offers at $7 million and $10 million, respectively, for the 75-acre property. In July 2011, the commissioners passed a motion to counter the two previous offers with an offer of $20 million and to direct the county attorney to write the new contracts.

That motion passed 3-1 with Commissioner Jim Deal voting no. Deal said $25 million—not $20 million—is a reasonable counteroffer. Deal also said with depressed property values, now (July 2011) was not the time to sell this unique property. (Commissioner Tim Futrelle was absent because of a family death.)

This offer could twist a kink in the plans that the Economic Development Commission had for the property. One month ago, members of the Economic Development Commission (EDC) requested that the board officially designate the county-owned land as “Western North Carolina’s premiere business park” at a meeting on Aug. 21., and a meeting between the two entities is scheduled for Oct. 8. 

Back to the most recent offer that will be addressed next Tuesday, the sale and purchase agreement that the Watauga County Board of Commissioners will review is signed by Ted Rollins, CEO of Campus Crest Development.  

A call to Campus Crest Development was not returned as of press time, so it is not known what the plans for the property are if the bid is accepted.

However, on the Campus Crest Development website, the “About Us” page reads: “Mike Hartnett and Ted Rollins were classmates at Duke business school and have worked together on and off over the last 24 years. In 2004, Mike and Ted founded Campus Crest Communities. They had a vision to develop the best “Fully Loaded” student housing properties in the industry. Today, there are 33 operating properties and 6 under development for delivery in fall 2012.”