After more than a year of debate with neighbors, the University of South Carolina has blessings to move forward with plans for a student housing village on the south side of campus – but on several conditions.
If traffic and student intrusion into the Wheeler Hill, Wales Garden and Hollywood-Rose Hill neighborhoods are not successfully discouraged throughout the first two phases of the Campus Village project, the university will not be able to move forward with the third and final phase of the project. That condition is written into a January agreement between USC and the three neighborhoods.
Otherwise, USC’s plan to almost triple the number students living off Pickens and Sumter streets has turned into a “win-win” for both the university and its neighbors, said Kit Smith, a Wales Garden neighborhood leader.
“At this point, there’s trust ... that has resulted from this year-and-a-half-long dialogue,” said USC architect Derek Gruner, speaking at Tuesday’s Columbia Board of Zoning Appeals meeting where USC received unanimous approval for a special exception to build eight new student dormitories and a parking garage.
To appease the neighborhoods, USC has agreed to provide “safety guides” on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights to escort and steer students away from the neighborhoods, which sit in the path between Five Points and the south campus.
Plus, the university promises to discourage students’ vehicle traffic by building only one parking garage for residents. It also will prohibit commuter parking in the village and boost shuttle service to the area.
The Campus Village will be built out over the next six or seven years, starting with the garage and some dorms in 2019.
The plans, first introduced in October 2015 but since altered to the pleasure of the neighbors, call for:
▪ Demolition of Bates House, Bates West, Cliff Apartments and Carolina Gardens, which currently house about 1,400 students.
▪ Construction of eight new residence halls, up to six stories in height, with about 3,750 beds.
▪ A 945-space parking garage on the westernmost side of the Campus Village, as far as possible from the three neighborhoods.
▪ A narrow public park on Pickens Street to act as a buffer between the Campus Village and the neighborhoods.
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