The Buzz

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BUZZ: Fortune 100 company eyes new USC office building

03/04/2014 9:39 AM

04/19/2014 5:23 PM

The University of South Carolina will ask the state Budget and Control Board on Wednesday to bypass state procurement rules to land "a significant Fortune 100 company" for a planned office building in the school's Innovista research campus.

The unidentified company carries "economic development package that would bring significant business to, and create new jobs in, South Carolina," the university said in its request.

USC told the Budget and Control Board that it needs to negotiate an exclusive contract with the company to provide services to the school. The contract would help the S.C. Department of Commerce with "Project Sunset," according to the budget board request.

The company would move into a $25 million office building at Assembly and Blossom streets that will be constructed and owned by Atlanta-based Holder Properties in a unique public-private partnership.

USC will receive $72,600 a year in rent as well as 15 percent of the profit from the planned five-story, 120,000-square-foot building. The school also will have the right to rent one-third of the office space.

The building must open by summer 2017.

The school also wants wants asking the budget board to approve a lease request for the Holder project needed to land the company on Wednesday. The board delayed voting on the lease last week when House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White, R-Anderson, raised question about how the state's responsibilities after the Holder lease ends.

Holder Properties chief executive John Holder said Tuesday that he could not discuss the economic-development deal but added that a name tenant could help attract others to the building. He declined to say if the company would take the space dedicated to USC or space being offered by his company.

Efforts to reach USC officials on Tuesday were unsuccessful. Commerce officials do not discuss projects publicly.

The building is part USC’s $144 million research campus, meant to marry university faculty work with businesses, that has fell short of expectations. USC and businesses leaders hope Innovista’s fortunes are changing with the improving economy.

The school said the contract-negotiation exemption "contains safeguards to ensure that the negotiated price for the contractual services is fair, reasonable, and tied to the economic development efforts associated with this building."

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A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to Follow The Buzz @buzzatthestate. Follow Cassie @cassielcope. Follow Jamie @jamiemself. Follow Andy @andyshain.

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