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USC moves ahead with $240 million construction of new dorm, parking deck

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USC Campus Village from Whaley Street (artist's rendering)

An artist's rendering of what USC's Campus Village project will look like shows the suite-style student housing project from Whaley Street in Columbia. (provided by University of South Carolina)

COLUMBIA — The University of South Carolina is about to start another big building project.

Trustees at the state's largest college approved a new student housing complex called Campus Village on Friday that will transform the school's south side.

The 18-acre, seven-building project will include four residence halls, about 3,700 beds, a 945-space parking garage, restaurants and stores.

The entire project is forecast to cost $460 million, but university architect Derek Gruner said the total cost will change over time because the project is being approved in phases.

Only the first phase with one residence and the parking deck costing $240 million was approved Friday.

"The university really wants to bite this off incrementally," Gruner said.  

The suite-style, five- to six-story buildings will replace four older residence halls that date back 50 years. The Cliff Apartments, Bates West and Bates House have a little more than 1,000 beds.

The first phase — tearing down and replacing Cliff Apartments — starts in late 2020 and the first dorm opens in fall of 2022. There was no date given for when the entire village will be completed.

The additional beds from the village, as well as the parking deck, will help accommodate USC's growing enrollment that has risen by more the 7,000 students over the past decade to reach 35,000.

USC has been on a building boom under the administration of President Harris Pastides with more than $1 billion in new construction and renovations completed and another $1 billion in the works. Pastides is retiring at the end of July after 11 years.  

The school will pay for the project built by Charleston-based real estate developer Greystar with revenue from room fees.

This is a change from an earlier decision to build the village as a public-private partnership where a developer would build and run dorms on school property, similar to student housing dorms that opened four years ago behind the Carolina Coliseum.

"There's been an ongoing discussion over the last couple years," USC spokesman Jeff Stensland said, "and the financial picture for the country looked a lot different when 650 Lincoln was built than it does now."

The Campus Village is part of USC's work to update older buildings so the school can attract students, who expect more modern amenities.

USC had to overcome concerns by neighbors about increased traffic and unruly student behavior.

Commuter students will not be able to park in the complex, and the buildings will be brick and cast-stone so they can reflect the more historic parts of campus blend in with the surrounding neighborhood.

Gruner said the Campus Village can actually help solve the issues since the complex will have stores selling groceries that students usually leave campus to get.

"If they can get everything they need right here, that decreases the amount of vehicular traffic going through the neighborhood," he said.

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