Old school in Batesburg-Leesville could become hotel

08/21/2013 7:39 PM

08/21/2013 7:41 PM

A former school in Batesburg-Leesville could become a hotel.

Sejwad Hotels is seeking to transform the 90-year-old facility, at 101 W. Columbia Ave., into a hotel of up to 75 rooms and to renovate its auditorium into a meeting center.

Company president Rick Patel sent Lexington 3 school officials a letter expressing “our interest in initiating discussions with the school board to make this possible.”

No cost estimate for the project is included in the proposal sent to school officials and town leaders.

The facility in the center of the Lexington County community of 5,400 residents is used as an adult learning center after serving as a high school and middle school until 1999.

Some historic preservationists like the proposal.

Michael Bedenbaugh, executive director of the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, said the plan is a way to modernize the facility without compromising its historic features.

Turning the school into a hotel offers a “solution to buildings like this that will add to the quality of life for the community,” he said in a letter to school officials.

The project would fulfill a long-time goal of town leaders.

A hotel would attract those who come to nearby Lake Murray for recreation as well as become a site for social gatherings, Mayor James Wiszowaty said.

“Anything we can put there (at the old school) is win-win,” he said.

The proposal has been received and is being reviewed, superintendent Chester Floyd said.

Patel’s company operates nine hotels in the Midlands, including the Sheraton in downtown Columbia that is in a rehabilitated historic structure.

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