University of South Carolina trustees gave the go-ahead Friday to plans to start renovating the school’s Close-Hipp Building to house its College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management starting in 2019.
USC plans to spend $14.7 million to renovate the 8-story-tall building that formerly housed the Darla Moore School of Business.
The roughly 350,000-square-foot building has room for about 400 offices and 35 to 40 classrooms.
The hospitality school will take up about a third of the building’s space. However, the new site will allow the school to significantly increase its enrollment.
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The U.S. Department of Justice was to lease the Close-Hipp Building from USC. But those plans – a $106 million, 20-year lease – fell through. Instead, the federal government paid USC $31.5 million to end the deal.
The hospitality school previously had planned to move in 2019 into the soon-to-be-vacated law school building on Main Street.
Now, that building will be used for classroom and instructional laboratory space. Board members approved spending some of $3.5 million in state money, designated to renovate the building, for initial renovation designs.
The hospitality school received a $2 million grant earlier this year from the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation for a culinary laboratory. In the Close-Hipp Building, that lab will feature a 10-station, 20-student culinary teaching facility and a culinary demonstration classroom with auditorium seating.
USC president Pastides responds to protest
USC trustees on Friday did not discuss publicly protests that occurred on campus Monday, when about 150 students called for more diversity at the school.
But USC President Harris Pastides said the school is taking the students’ concerns seriously. He said he has met with community advisory, student advisory and diversity committees. The diversity committee will take the lead in addressing the students’ requests and turning them into actions, Pastides said, adding students will be included in making changes.
“I respect the students for their right to speak up,” Pastides said. “We’re going to work to channel that voice into constructive and positive change.”