New USC law school, Farmers Market purchase win key go-aheads

ashain@thestate.comOctober 16, 2013 

USC Law School

Artist's rendering of new USC Law School

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA

— The University of South Carolina’s new $80 million law school won a key approval Wednesday.

The legislative Joint Bond Review Committee gave the go-ahead to the new law school in the block bounded by Gervais, Pickens, Senate and Bull streets that will open in two years.

The bond committee also agreed to buy nearly 10 acres and several buildings at the new State Farmers Market in Lexington County for $7 million in state money.

The law school and Farmers Market land purchase need approval from the Budget and Control Board to become final.

USC will look to secure up to $48 million in bonds backed by law school tuition to pay for the new building. USC has raised more than $10 million.

Other funding will come from a $10 million state bond approved in 1999, including $5 million used for land acquisition, and $10 million in a state appropriation from last year.

USC plans to open the new law school by 2016 – a year before its 150th anniversary. Construction is scheduled to begin in September.

The school said it will not raise tuition and has the ability to absorb an estimated $1.5 million in additional annual operating expenses compared with the current 40-year-old home along Main Street.

The new school will not add many students to its enrollment of 630, university leaders said.

Meanwhile, the bond review committee approved the state buying more of the three-year-old State Farmers Market in Lexington County.

The state plans to spend $7 million on 9.83 acres that includes a wholesalers building, two open-air vendors shed and the kiosk at the market entrance.

Bill Stern, a Columbia developer who chairs the State Ports Authority, owns the property.

The $60 million State Farmers Market moved from Bluff Road in Richland County to West Columbia in Lexington County in 2010 with a mixture of public and private owners.

The appraisal of $7 million was reviewed and approved by the State Budget Control Board.

The bond committee had no discussion before voting on the purchase.

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