South Carolina plans to sell at least eight state-owned buildings, including the Columbia headquarters for the state’s Education and Parole departments, after an initial review to identify excess and costly property.
Selling the buildings, including five in the state capital, will save South Carolina $30.4 million in expenses over five years, according to a report compiled by CBRE, the commercial real estate firm hired by the state to survey state-owned property.
The report released Wednesday also touts centralizing management of state real estate in the Department of Administration, which was created in July. Taking control of state-owned buildings and land from individual state agencies could save $35.3 million a year, the report said.
Gov. Nikki Haley issued an executive order in 2013 requiring agencies to compile an inventory of state-owned property. That inventory identified 7,800 buildings and 2,500 parcels of land. The state owns enough square footage in buildings to fill 30 Empire State Buildings and enough land to cover Richland County, according to analysis of the property data.
“We have got a lot of money pits in South Carolina,” Haley said Wednesday. “And money pits our taxpayers don't need to be spending (money) on. And instead of owning these money pits, we need to get rid of them and let someone else do something better with them.”
Three Columbia buildings — the Education Department’s Rutledge Building at 1429 Senate St., 1800 Gervais St. and 2221 Devine St. — are expendable because of high maintenance costs, the CBRE report said. The three buildings could fetch a combined $4.75 million to $7.1 million.
Proceeds from the sales would go into a fund to repair or buy other state buildings, Haley said.
Two other Columbia buildings — at 8500 Farrow Road and 3150 Harden St. — landed on the market because the state agencies that use them can go elsewhere into smaller spaces, CBRE found. No sales price estimates were provided.
The five Columbia buildings on or heading to the sales block house offices for the University of South Carolina and state agencies: Education; Probation, Parole and Pardon Services; Health and Environmental Control; Social Services; Consumer Affairs; Minority Affairs; and Election Commission.
Those offices would move into unspecified renovated state-owned buildings in 2018, according to the report.
Selling the buildings would add thousands of square feet of commercial and office space in Columbia. Ben Brantley, vice president of CBRE’s Columbia office, said the effect of the sell-off on the real estate market “will remain to be seen.”
Brantley said his firm is focusing on completing work on its $1.4 million state contract to survey the state-owned property inventory, visiting sites, analyzing costs and developing plans that the state can use.
Consultants also suggested the state sell three Upstate Department of Employment and Workforce offices — in Greenville, Greenwood and Spartanburg — because of high maintenance costs and inefficient use of space.
Currently, the state has 47 buildings and parcels listed for sale, including some that have been on the market for at least 12 years. However, with the help of CBRE, the state hopes to use more private-sector methods to sell state-owned property faster, Department of Administration director Marcia Adams said.
Consultants also suggested moving some state offices into smaller spaces. For example, the Education Department and the agencies housed in the 1800 Gervais and 2221 Devine buildings need nearly 40 percent less space than what they occupy now in Columbia, the report said.
The report is a first step. Work will to continue to find state buildings to sell and offices to consolidate so other offices can be modernized, such as the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Columbia headquarters, Haley said.
“It looks old. It smells old. Everything about it is just not good,” Haley said. “Everybody should love their job. How do you love your job when it looks like it is decades old? ... That’s not how government should run.”
On the block
A consultant recommended eight state-owned buildings that South Carolina can sell to save money. The buildings and the main state agencies that use them are:
▪ Rutledge Building, Columbia — Department of Education
▪ 1800 Gervais St., Columbia — University of South Carolina
▪ 2221 Devine St., Columbia — Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, Consumer Affairs, Minority Affairs, and Election Commission
▪ 8500 Farrow Road, Columbia — Health and Environmental Control
▪ 3150 Harden St., Columbia — Social Services
▪ 706 Pendleton St., Greenville — Employment and Workforce
▪ 519 Monument St., Greenwood — Employment and Workforce
▪ 364 S. Church St., Spartanburg — Employment and Workforce