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Life on Campus at NC State — September edition

With football season underway and the arrival of that old, familiar feeling of sadness and anger on Saturdays, I wanted to post again regarding some of the new changes to campus and the surrounding area with people heading back into Raleigh throughout the season. The campus at NCSU and the surrounding areas on Hillsborough and Western are a few of my favorite places in the world, and I’d very much recommend taking a stop by campus before tailgate if you’re planning on making a trip to Carter-Finley this fall with all of the changes the entire area has seen.

Hillsborough Lofts

There’s been a lot going on with this space in the last couple of years as the spot was bulldozed to make way for Hillsborough Lofts (7 story apartment building) in 2014. Since that time, the building frame went up, and then the space basically sat in limbo for the better part of the last 2 years due to issues between the construction contractor and the property developer. Last month an arbitrator ruled that the blame fell with the property developer for the delay in construction, the property was foreclosed on, and a public auction is now set for September 22nd where the property will be sold to the highest bidder. If I had to make a guess, I’d say a 4-5 level student apartment building with ground level retail will find its way to this spot even with all of the issues this current location has seen.

La Stella Wood Fired

In my previous post about the changes on Hillsborough Street, I detailed one of my favorite new spots on the street, H-Street Kitchen. H-Street had closed for the summer to make operational changes, but in the time since my previous post, it was announced that “La Stella Wood Fired” would take over the spot. La Stella opened a location on Fayetteville Street recently as well, and this location on Hillsborough is set to open in October. H-Street underwent a very extensive, and very expensive, renovation before opening last year, and it sounds as though most of the interior will remain in-tact. However, there will be some changes in that the menu will be altered to have some standard entrees / pizza and salads, more TV’s will be added, and some additional NCSU decorations will be added as well (which H-Street already had a good deal of to begin with).

I’m very interested to see how this new concept ends up doing. I love Hillsborough, but the staples are the staples (PR, EV, Mitch’s). The street needs new blood to make all the renovations and construction worthwhile. Plus with the seemingly thousands of apartments that have made their way to the street in the last few years, students are flat out going to need more places where they can go eat and grab some drinks (that is unless Fountain or Clark starts serving alcohol).

I always really liked H-Street, but I never felt it really was positioned to do as well as it could have done with it being located directly next to a college campus. Being a place where students can go drink on week nights after the dinner business hours conclude would’ve been one big change to bring in additional patrons (putting drink specials up on the movie marquee seems like a no-brainer), and having a cheaper, more college student-friendly menu should allow the location to be a go to spot for students looking to go out and watch a State game (and to then douse the ensuing pain with cheap light beer soon thereafter).

NC Equipment Co. Tractor Sign

Have I mentioned before that there are lots of new apartments either located on - or in the process of being located on - Hillsborough? The old NC Equipment Co. building is in the beginning stages of being turned into a student apartment complex as well. However, it was recently announced that the tractor sign that has been positioned atop the building for years will be saved when the new student-living property begins development.

Pullen Road Extension

If you’ve driven down Western Blvd (or anywhere in a 100 mile radius), you’ve likely seen the top of the new Catholic Church that has been built essentially between the edge of Main Campus and the back-side of Centennial Campus. The church is absolutely massive and the cathedral can be spotted pretty much anywhere relatively close to the area. However, one big change that has been fueled by the construction of this new church, is that there will be an extension from Pullen Road, past the church, and through to Centennial.

People have been talking about this type of project for years, and it seems as though the plans are finally in motion to push this effort through. The cost of the project will be split between NCSU, the City of Raleigh, and the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh.

Greek Village

Greek Village has also seen a lot of new development in the previous few years with various organizations building new houses on plots of land within the area. The master plan is currently set to run through to 2024, which at that point half of the organizations currently in Greek Village will likely have been kicked off campus, and State will be playing basketball in a renovated Reynolds Coliseum located on the moon.

Lime Bike

Bike share is something that has popped up in most major cities in the past few years (with Raleigh soon getting their own as well), however NCSU now also has their own bike share on campus. I was back on campus about 2 weeks ago and saw a lot of the bikes in various spots so the program has definitely gotten some use so far. Instead of strict bike rental kiosks, these bikes can be left at various drop-off locations throughout campus. Users of the program simply just need to download the app to locate the closest available bike to them.

You Mean We’re Here to Get an Education?

Lastly I just wanted to touch on some of the good publicity that State has gotten of late as a university. State has been a school that has received accolades for good value in recent years (due to the *relatively* low cost of tuition and the quality of State’s education) and has found its way to favorable rankings on lists for starting salaries for its graduates as well.

However, since Randy Woodson and Co. have taken over at State, the university has seen huge leaps in some of the more noteworthy college rankings. Now, to preface this, these types of rankings are highly subjective, and factor in numerous totally garbage and irrelevant elements that help to comprise a university’s overall composite ranking. If you’re going to pick a university everyone knows that you should do so based upon the individual college / major within the university that you are interested in, the cost of tuition, the starting salary of graduates, the university’s location, the university with the most bars within 2-3 miles, whether the school has been embroiled in a decades long academic fraud scandal, etc.

I look at these rankings a lot like pre-season sports polls. They hold some value in what might come in the future, but overall they’re largely hollow and meaningless if you dig deep enough into the metrics behind them. However, it is undeniable that these rankings help to influence prospective students and their parents. From that perspective, a university needs to do what it can in order to rise in these rankings and/or to maintain a lofty spot in the rankings. In the most recent US News & World Report ranking, State was ranked 81st overall nationally, and 33rd among public institutions. What Woodson has been able to do at State has been remarkable with the ~30 spot jump on this listing during his 7 year tenure, and through the fundraising efforts that have helped to drive this jump.

That’s all I’ve got this month. Go State, go beer, beat Furman.