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How Coastal Carolina University plans to address temporary need for more student housing

Coastal Carolina campus.JPG (copy)

Coastal Carolina University plans to contract with The Pier Conway apartment complex and the Four Points by Sheraton hotel to address a need for more housing due to an increased rate of student enrollment over the last two years. File/Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

CONWAY — Coastal Carolina University plans to contract with a Conway apartment complex and a Myrtle Beach hotel to address a need for more housing due to an increased rate of student enrollment over the past two years.

The Conway campus said it anticipates a record 7.5 percent increase of first-year students this fall over 2021, which was then the largest freshman class to date in the university’s 68 years of existence. With an on-campus housing requirement policy for both freshman and sophomore students and the record enrollment, officials said there is currently a “housing deficit.”

A proposal for a temporary housing solution by way of an emergency procurement was on the agenda at the General Assembly’s Joint Bond Review Committee meeting on Aug. 23, later passing with no discussion from the six members who oversee state agency financial commitments before they can be finalized.

One measure that CCU officials plan to use to address the housing shortage is a nine-month agreement with The Pier Conway located off of S.C. Highway 544 that will house 80 students. Additionally, the university plans to temporarily house 98 students nearly 8 miles away at the Four Points by Sheraton located by the Intracoastal Waterway in Myrtle Beach until more space on campus opens up.

The contracts between CCU and The Pier and Four Points by Sheraton are $714,880 and $996,000, respectively, according to online documents.

Both venues will be contracted to communicate with CCU “consistently and at all hours, seven days a week,” and will provide wireless internet as well as standard amenities including furniture, power, plumbing, access control and maintenance response.

Resident advisers will be on-site at both locations and CCU’s Department of Public Safety will provide security, according to the agreement.

“Without on-campus housing or University-controlled off-campus housing, freshmen and sophomore students would be forced to seek their own housing arrangements and would lose the University oversight that comes through having resident advisors readily available, access to dining facilities and the residential area monitoring by the University’s Department of Public Safety,” CCU Chief Financial Officer David Frost said in an Aug. 11 letter addressed to the committee’s staff.

With potentially no oversight over students living in off-campus apartments due to lack of housing, university officials said there would be a “threat to public health, welfare or safety,” which is one of the requirements in a state law detailing the requirements for emergency procurement.

“Horry County is among the top 30 fastest-growing counties in the nation and the fastest in South Carolina,” Frost said. “Therefore, it comes as no surprise that students are drawn to our area and our beautiful campus.

“Demand for area housing has driven prices in the rental market high and availability low.”

CCU Director of Communication Jerry Rashid said the university continually evaluates its student housing capacity and bases decisions on projected future enrollment when asked if new dorms are on the horizon.

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Follow Richard Caines on Twitter at @rickcaines

Richard Caines is a business reporter for The Post & Courier - Myrtle Beach/Georgetown Times. He is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

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