By Jesse Wood
May 3, 2013. Notorious for potholes, Pride Drive doesn’t live up to its name.
A couple weeks ago a first-time visitor from Charlotte stopped by High Country Host, which is located across the street from KFC. As she turned off of Blowing Rock Road and onto Pride Drive to enter the High Country Host parking lot, she punctured her oil pan inside a massive pothole. Filled with water, the depth of the pothole wasn’t noticeable.
While Pride Drive was a frustrating initial encounter with the area for the Charlottean, it’s made a lasting impression over the years with residents of the High Country frequenting Kmart, Ride With Pride car wash, KFC and cutting into the two shopping centers adjacent to Walmart.
“That’s a good one,” joked Greg Miller, streets superintendent with the Boone Public Works Department, referring to Pride Drive. “It’s not our street. We get a lot of calls about it. It’s in bad need of repair.”
Miller added that folks call his department all the time, assuming it is the town’s responsibility to maintain the road. However, he said Pride Drive is a private road and is not maintained by the town.
“It’s privately owned by [four] different people. We aren’t allowed to work on it,” Miller said. “We pass over it like everyone else but don’t do any maintenance on it at all.”
So who owns Pride Drive?
On Wednesday, Joe Pitts, retired director of land records with Watauga County who currently works part-time in the Watauga County Tax Administration office, took the time to peruse the Pride Drive-related deeds earlier this week with High Country Press.
Regarding the section of Pride Drive where KFC and High Country Host have road frontage, Morganton-based Fulenwider Enterprises, which operates the KFC, and the N.C. Department of Transportation, which owns the property of High Country Host, own to the centerline of the first portion of Pride Drive, the section closest to Blowing Rock Road/U.S. 321.
On the KFC deed filed in 2008, Pride Drive is listed as Bank Street for some reason that Pitts couldn’t explain – but the location and coordinates are correct. The 1984 deed for the High Country Host property, owned by the NCDOT, listed Pride Drive as the “proposed 30 foot street.” This section has humungous potholes that look more like craters.
A local spokesman with NCDOT said the department doesn’t own any portion of Pride Drive, and Clay Brown, district manager with Fulenwider Enterprises, said the same thing.
“We’ve been through this before,” Brown said. “If we have any responsibility for it, I don’t know it.”
The middle stretch of Pride Drive is in the vicinity of Ride With Pride car wash and Kmart. This section, which is owned entirely by those associated with Ride With Pride car wash, is nicely paved up until the bridge over a creek near the back portion of Kmart.
The last portion of Pride Drive, the section squeezed in between the rear of Hunan Chinese Restaurant and the Leola Street Community Garden, is owned by Mark Hagle of Siler Crossing Limited Partnership. This final section of Pride Drive is also in treacherous shape.
Interestingly, though, Siler Crossing Limited Partnership doesn’t own any portion of the Leola Street Community Garden nor properties associated with the shopping center featuring Hunan; Siler Crossing Limited Partnership pretty much only owns pavement of Pride Drive.
But Hagle is also president and CEO of Tricor International Corporation, which leases properties in the Watauga Village Shopping Center, which includes the Food Lion in Boone, and has dozens of developments for lease and sale sprawled across the United States.
“Tricor has owned and developed more than nine million square feet of commercial buildings and thousands of residential units,” according to the companies website.
Hagle didn’t return a message left at his office in Florida.
A Liability of a Road
Pride Drive is essentially a liability in the condition it is in, and for Hagle, at least, offers no benefits to repair.
Miller said the Town of Boone wouldn’t “take it over” in the current condition.
“The owners could petition us to take it over, but they would have to meet our requirements first. It would probably have to be repaired first. I know they have storm drainage issues [which is] the root of a lot the problems cause water stands in it all the time. Pavement would have to be repaired, and then they would have to give us right of way,” Miller said.
“We wouldn’t take it in the condition it is in,” Miller said, mentioning the costs of such repair, which is why the road is currently in bad shape.
Pitts said he has seen this issue come up before regarding different roads in the area. He said developers will come in and the road looks nice in the beginning. Then the developers sell the property and leave.
“15 to 20 years later,” Pitts said, “the property owners don’t want to pay $25,000 to repair the road.”