Flora Street Properties

The University of South Carolina is considering purchasing 15 acres — more than 14 of which belong to SCANA — on or near South Assembly and Flora streets in Columbia.

The University of South Carolina is considering buying about 15 acres of property on or near South Assembly Street, the vast majority of which is currently owned by SCANA.

According to state Fiscal Accountability Authority documents, the university recently requested $75,000 for “investigative studies required to adequately evaluate property prior to purchase.”

The land in question is along South Assembly, Flora and Poe streets, across Assembly from the old Capital City Stadium and just west of USC’s athletics village. More than 14 of the acres USC is exploring are split up into 12 parcels owned by SCANA. Paperwork indicates the school is also seeking less than an acre in the area owned by a private company.

Records note the fact that the 15 acres are “nearly contiguous” with the athletics village and “lay close” to USC academic and housing facilities. 

“If the properties were to be acquired, they would accommodate the university support functions, student recreation space, and potentially future research, academic and manufacturing incubator space,” reads the funding request to the Fiscal Accountability Authority.

The total land acquisition cost is estimated at $10.3 million.

Free Times requested comment from USC spokesman Wes Hickman, but did not hear back before press time.

Meanwhile, SCANA spokeswoman Katrina Goggins confirmed that the utility’s properties in question are for sale, but was mum beyond that.

“We don’t typically comment on real estate matters until after property sales have been completed,” Goggins says.

According to Public Service Commission records, the SCANA properties along Flora Street were once used for utility operations in Columbia. They included a customer call center, a data center, a storage yard and workspace for various departments and personnel. SCANA has since moved its operations to Cayce.

One existing building on the property is a 65,000-square-foot mill that would reportedly be preserved. Environmental assessments will likely be necessary on the property.

The possible acquisition of the acreage along Assembly and Flora is just the latest example of USC’s ever-morphing and growing footprint in Columbia in the past decade.  The school has made a decided push west, with the construction of the Darla Moore School of Business on the west side of Assembly Street, the reimagining of the area outside Colonial Life Arena via public-private student housing and the construction of Founders Park on the banks of the Congaree River, among other moves.

The school’s foundation also recently purchased the South Carolina Bookstore and the Sandy’s Famous Hot Dogs on Main Street south of the State House, and has plans for a large student housing village on the south side of its campus, bordered by Pickens, Heyward and Sumter streets.

Chris Trainor contributed to this report.

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