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Evicted: Appalachian State evicts 13 students from Howard Street housing

Appalachian State University recently purchased a plot of land on Howard Street that contains two houses and two duplexes, where 13 students live.

Promptly after buying the property, Appalachian sent eviction notices to the students Oct. 24 that notified them they would have

The house at 721 Howard St. is one of two on a property purchased by the university, which also includes two duplexes. The university is requiring the 13 students who live on the property to relocate by Dec. 31, but will refund their security deposits. Photo by Paul Heckert | The Appalachian
The house at 721 Howard St. is one of two on a property purchased by the university, which also includes two duplexes. The university is requiring the 13 students who live on the property to relocate by Dec. 31, but will refund their security deposits. Photo by Paul Heckert | The Appalachian

to leave by Dec. 31.

Upon inspecting the houses following the purchase, Appalachian found the health and safety standards of the houses were subpar according to their standards, said Michelle Novacek, the process analyst for Appalachian’s Physical Plant.

Despite the lack of immediate plans to build on the property, the safety concerns prompted Appalachian to evict the residents.

“It’s not that we’re in a really big hurry to put anything else there,” Novacek said. “It’s the fact that the places are probably not up to student housing standards.”

Novacek cited exposed plumbing, asbestos and decaying walls as some of the health concerns found within the houses.

“If you were to go in [the houses], there are places where you can see daylight through the walls,” Novacek said.

Gunnar Schattler, a senior physics major and a resident of one of the duplexes, said he could understand Appalachian’s concern over the safety of the two houses, but he thought the duplexes were in normal conditions.

“They said that they had to evict us because those houses didn’t meet [university standards], which is understandable,” Schettler said. “But the duplexes were fine.”

The short notice given by Appalachian was also a cause for anger from students.

“My first thought was, ‘This can’t be legal,’” said Olivia Dannemiller, a senior sustainable development major and resident of the Howard Street duplexes. “But there is a clause in our lease that says if the ownership changes, they only have to give us a 30-day notice. It’s really stressful to have to find a place to live in the middle of the semester. Especially since I’m a senior, so I have a lot on my plate right now, and I can walk to work from my house, and walk to all my classes.”

Schettler said although they were nice enough to give more than 60-day notice, it still causes problems.“They dropped that bomb on us right before finals, in the heart of the semester when so many other things are going on,” Schettler said.

Appalachian is giving the students $500 as compensation, which Novacek said she thinks is a generous amount.

However, the gift only served to further aggravate the displaced residents.

“It doesn’t even come close to the damage that they put us through,” Schettler said. “I felt dirty accepting it. And I said that when I went [to the administration building].”

Novacek said although the university doesn’t have immediate plans for the property, it’s a part of Appalachian’s Master Plan 2020, the multi-year initiative to completely renovate the campus.

“We have to have enough land to build a decent sized building when the opportunity arises,” Novacek said.

Nevertheless, the students said they wished Appalachian could have been more transparent.

Dannemiller said it would have been nice if the university had kept them informed before the eviction notices were distributed.

“We’re part of the Appalachian family, and so they’re pretty much kicking their own family out,” Schettler said. “I felt betrayed.”

Story: Thomas Culkin, News Reporter
Photo: Paul Heckert, Business Manager/ Photographer

View Comments (10)
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Comments (10)

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  • D

    David LezetteNov 12, 2014 at 6:52 am

    Here is a video from one of those homes on Howard Street in 2007-2008.

    Good times were had there, but I kind of agree they were not safe 🙂

    https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=557495642398&set=vb.29702358&type=3&theater

    Reply
  • B

    brightNov 11, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Didn’t Bobby Cremins live here?

    Reply
  • A

    AngieNov 11, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    At Least have the decency to put the students in a dorm until the end of the year, ASU!

    Reply
  • M

    Michael BehrentNov 11, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Furthermore, this should be put in perspective, as The Appalachian’s writers have been doing:
    https://theappalachianonline.com/2014/11/05/higher-education-dominated-market/?fb_action_ids=10205220384809392&fb_action_types=og.likes

    Reply
  • E

    erikNov 11, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    App online, please make you banner ads the same size so the content below doesn’t jump up and down to accommodate the changing image heights on my phone.

    Reply
    • J

      Justin PerryNov 13, 2014 at 11:16 am

      Good catch and thanks for the feedback! Our web team is working on getting that fixed as soon as possible, thanks for your patience.

      Reply
  • S

    SW ManagerNov 11, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Reply
  • M

    Michael BehrentNov 11, 2014 at 10:07 am

    This sounded odd, so I looked for more information on the Physical Plant website. The clue is to be found on p. 21 of a document called “Campus Master Plan 2020.” It mentions that one of the university’s goals is to “Construct a new connecting road to extend Brown Street from East Howard Street to King Street.” It can’t be a coincidence that 721 Howard Street lies exactly in the area where such a connecting road might be built. In short, the acquisition of this building and subsequent eviction is basically tied to ASU property development. Whatever the worth of this project, the decision to evict students who previously had housing—and well-situated housing, it should be pointed out—that had not come under any prior scrutiny seems to impose a significant hardship on these students, particularly given the challenge of finding affordable housing in Boone (especially at mid-semester) and the fact that these students will almost certainly have to travel further to campus as a result. ASU, in acquiring this property, is achieving one of the goals of its Campus Master Plan. Shouldn’t the university offer more compensation?
    The report is available here: http://physicalplant.appstate.edu/sites/physicalplant.appstate.edu/files/Campus%20Master%20Plan%20AppFinalMasterPlanReport03_18_10C3.pdf
    I suggest The Appalachian follow up this story by interviewing the Director of Physical Plant Mike O’Connor (oconnormj@appstate.edu) and the Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs (who is responsible for Physical Plant) Greg Lovins (lovinsgm@appstate.edu).

    Reply
    • B

      BooneMasterace2020Nov 13, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      I was at the Boone 2020 meetings back in 2008. What a shitshow. They didn’t know then how to perceive Boone’s progress because the AppState Board of Trustees couldn’t pull their heads out of their asses. Looks like they still can’t see the light of day. The development of the Howard Street area wasn’t even brought up in conversation at the meetings. It was about mixed use development along King St. and creating a proper bypass around the town. One multiple of the Board of Trustees’ members is getting paid for this graciously. As the contracts come out, enough of a paper trail will point to the culprits.

      Reply
  • R

    reckggNov 11, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Standard procedure for the university. Remember what they did to the elderly retired ASU faculty member and her seriously ill husband when they rammed through the construction of the education building? ASU is a community bully leading by example.

    Reply