University of South Carolina trustees Friday signed off on a $460 million plan to transform the dilapidated south side of USC’s downtown Columbia campus into a 3,750-bed “Campus Village” student housing complex.
The public-private partnership with Memphis-based developer EdR ensures USC will not pay a dime to build or operate the village’s eight quad-styled residence halls, the school said Friday. The university also will not be liable for any debt.
Plans call for EdR to tear down four 1970s-era dorms with 1,211 beds – including Bates House and Bates West – and replace them with cast-stone or brick buildings of up to six stories.
The 18-acre site – bordered by Pickens, Heyward and Sumter streets – also would have a 945-space parking garage, several courtyards, retail shops, a cafeteria and restaurants.
The village will exude an “urban park” vibe, the school says. Its buildings will be similar to USC’s Honors College dorm, at Main, Blossom and Sumter streets.
Plans call for the new residence halls to open in three phases between 2020 and 2024.
EdR, which owns and manages housing complexes outside 57 colleges, has a history with USC. In 2015, USC fought off a 15-story tower EdR wanted to build at College and Main streets in downtown Columbia.
USC said that proposed tower would create a shadow at times over the school’s iconic Horseshoe – about a block away – that could damage its trees and lawns. The university’s alumni association also launched a website with an online petition opposing the project.
Future USC students at Campus Village would pay rent to the school’s housing office, as with any other dorm. EdR would make money through development fees, paid by a nonprofit that will own the ground lease for the site.
The Campus Village proposal initially suffered pushback from downtown Columbia residents, worried about increased traffic and thousands more potentially rowdy students living nearby.
Among a number of concessions to neighbors, USC agreed to:
▪ Cut the number of proposed parking spaces to 945 from about 3,000 and bar commuter students from parking in the area, in an effort to curb traffic
▪ Design the buildings with reddish brick and pitched roofs to look compatible with homes in nearby neighborhoods
▪ House students mostly on the western side of the development, separated from neighborhoods by buffer zones and green space
▪ Hire “safety guides” to escort students home from the nearby Five Points entertainment district and keep them from misbehaving in neighborhoods
▪ Pay the city of Columbia so it can hire more employees to enforce building codes in off-campus neighborhoods where USC students typically rent houses
▪ Take part in a committee of neighborhood, city and university leaders to plan future development in downtown Columbia
▪ Hold off building the third and final phase of the Campus Village project until neighbors agree USC has held up its end of the deal
USC’s new ‘Campus Village’
Coming down: Four 1970s-era dorms with 1,211 beds – including Bates House and Bates West – will be demolished.
Going up: Eight quad-styled residence halls – with 3,750 beds – made of cast-stone or brick, and up to six stories tall.
When? Plans call for the new residence halls to open in three phases between 2020 and 2024.
Where? It’s an 8-acre site bordered by Pickens, Heyward and Sumter streets; the site also would have a 945-space parking garage, several courtyards, retails shops, a cafeteria and restaurants.