City OK’s Columbia private school expansion

Hammond School will soon get a new look after planned renovations received approval from Columbia’s zoning board on Tuesday.

The Columbia private school, which has 840 students, wants to add 26,000-square-feet of space to its campus off Veterans Road, including an expanded gym and a new, two-story innovation center.

The cost of the new construction and how long it will take are unclear. The school headmaster’s office said Hammond administrators are on retreat this week.

The board unanimously approved a special exception that will allow the school to move forward with the plans without discussion at a Tuesday morning meeting. Approval was needed because the school sits in a residential area.

Hammond’s main campus is located near the Hampton Ridge neighborhood between Garners Ferry Road and Interstate 77, which border housing subdivisions.

The city zoning board’s decision likely removes the last hurdle to the plan. Columbia’s Planning Commission gave Hammond the green light last week.

Hammond’s plans have moved forward without the roadblocks facing Dreher High School. The public Richland One school hopes to add sports facilities at its campus in the Melrose Heights/Heathwood area of Columbia.

Amid opposition from neighbors, Dreher has been denied the zoning changes it needs to expand. Columbia City Council postponed a vote on the issue after a lengthy public hearing at a meeting in May.

The expansion of Hammond’s gym will require the demolition of the school’s existing locker rooms, adding almost 9,000 square feet of space to the school.

A one-story, 13,097-square-foot classroom wing also will be torn down to make way for a 30,736 square-foot, two-story replacement.

Annual tuition for the 2017-18 school year at Hammond ranges from $9,409 for pre-kindergarten to $17,934 for high school, according to the school’s website.