Education

USC could expand Greek Village parking by 800 spots and eliminate frat/sorority fee

The University of South Carolina could more than double the amount of parking near the overcrowded Greek Village by added up to 800 parking spots by 2022.

The first phase, expected to be ready by fall 2020, would add up to 500 spaces by converting an existing intramural recreational field at Blossom and Lincoln streets into a gravel parking lot for commuters and giving fraternity and sorority members access to the paved, AD3 parking lot across from the Greek Village, USC Architect Derek Gruner said at a Friday board of trustees meeting.

The second phase of the project would involve demolishing two buildings and creating a paved lot between Devine Street and Thirsty Fellow that would add 300 parking spaces. That would be complete by January 2022, Gruner said.

“I think this moves us in the right direction,” USC President Bob Caslen said at the meeting.

The $7.5 million project is being funded by the $750 annual fee fraternity and sorority students pay. Should the project receive final approval from the school’s board of trustees, students in fraternities and sororities would no longer pay the annual fee starting next semester, according to a release from the school. However, the university will still charge students a fee to use parking spaces.

That fee “won’t be anywhere near what it is now,” Gruner said. Rather, the fee would be comparable to those charged for parking at other lots on campus.

The revised parking plan is a win for USC’s Greek Life community, which had been paying increasing annual fees to fund a proposed $30 million, 1,100-space parking garage. At the board of trustees’ last meeting, the parking garage plan was scrapped in favor of building the 300-space parking lot and later building a 500-space parking lot.

“The parking garage is not a realistic expectation,” USC Student Body President Luke Rankin said. “So what is going to happen is we’re going to get surface lots and... at a much more expedited process.”

Currently, there are 612 parking spaces in the Greek Village, Gruner said.

“More parking is great parking,” Rankin said.

If USC were to build a parking garage, the school would have needed to borrow money, which it would be paying back for 20-30 years, Gruner said.

“Realistically, 800 (parking spaces) is the best we can do now,” Gruner said.

“We only have so much land,” Gruner said.

So far, it appears the Greek Life community is pleased with the idea of a surface parking lot. Before the meeting, Christen Piccioni, the president of USC’s College Panhellenic Association — the student-run organization that oversees sororities — sent a survey to members of Greek Life and found that 78 percent of the 1,220 respondents favored opening the surface lot and eliminating the $750 Greek Life fee, she said.

In the long run, USC will not end up with fewer intramural fields. The school has plans to move its intramural fields to a 300-acre location near Williams-Brice Stadium, according to a previous article from The State.

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