University of South Carolina Scales Back Building Projects

Mon February 12, 2007 - Southeast Edition
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) The University of South Carolina plans to scale back or delay some of its planned expansion because of rising costs.

The university has a total of $315 million in new facilities in the design phase or under construction.

The cutbacks and delays will primarily affect new dormitories and student services, not the university’s planned research campus.

“We have a very volatile construction market and materials costs are unpredictable,” Rick Kelly, vice president of finance, told the university’s Building and Grounds Committee.

Among the projects affected are the South Carolina Honors College complex, which will open a year later than planned in fall 2009, and expansion of the Thomas Cooper Library, which has been scaled back to one wing from two and delayed at least eight months.

Kelly said a major problem with the Honors College construction has been with demolition of the 1960s-era Towers dormitories that are on the site of the new complex. Asbestos was discovered in areas of the building where it had not been known to exist.

Security also has been a problem at the site because of people looking for souvenirs.

“Getting this building down has been a challenge,” Kelly said. “People will not stay off the site after hours.”

The library’s expansion was stymied by higher than expected bids for construction on two new wings to house political papers and rare books collections. Each wing was to have its own heating and air conditioning systems. Kelly said the project was combined into one wing to save money.

Now, however, with just one wing extending behind the library, there is concern whether there will be room for a larger student health center planned for the same area.

“We have just about exhausted building sites in the central campus,” Kelly said.

The university’s new research campus, Innovista, will not be delayed.

The Building and Grounds Committee approved additional spending on two projects Feb. 2. Cost for the Horizon Center — home to alternative fuels research — will increase $4.3 million, to $35.9 million. The university’s biomedical research building saw its budget increase by $4 million to $33.9 million.

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