Work could start up again in a month or so on a student-focused housing project in Conway that has been sitting unfinished for months after plans to open in August in time for the college school year did not materialize. City officials say they hope work will resume soon and that the project is completed.
Construction started in January on Coastal Estates, a gated 686-room development on U.S.501, but stopped months later because there was a hold up on funding, developer Al Shuman said Friday. The institution that was to provide the funding did not, said Shuman, who declined to name the company or say why they didn’t fund the project.
Shuman said they have interest from other groups to fund the project, and hope to begin construction again within the next 30 days, and be finished by the 2013 school year.
“This is needed for the college,” said Shuman, who said the housing development will include a swimming pool, workout room, steam room and full-size basketball court. He said he believes Coastal Carolina University is still short of housing for its growing student population.
In the meantime, the city is monitoring the development to make sure it is still safe and does not become a hazard that would require the city to step in, said Conway Planning Director Michael Leinwand, who has said the department noticed earlier this year that construction had stopped.
.The city’s last official inspection of the project was in April, though building department employees continue to go out there and check on the buildings.
“I keep going out there, look at it and check on it,” said Billy Joe Sawyer, Conway’s building official/building plan reviewer. “It hasn’t been abandoned. They’re out there. They’re just not physically working on the project. I thought they would have started back by now. We’re trying to work with them and let them get their affairs together.”
The buildings are not a safety issue, but if they deteriorate, become dangerous or collapse, the city would work with the owners to get it rectified or the buildings would have to come down, Sawyer said.
“I hope they can get this problem solved,” Conway City Councilman Irby Koon said. “I don’t want them to lose their investment, but the city can’t get involved in the project. I know the family well and have great trust in them that they can handle it.”
Councilman Tom Anderson also looks forward to construction starting up again on the project.
“You don’t come that far and not finish it,” Anderson said. “Something big happened. I don’t know the story, but I hate it for them. I think it will be a first class facility when it’s done based on the plans brought to us.”
A building permit for the project is no longer active; permits expire six months from the last inspection, which was in April, Sawyer said. The permit would have to be brought up to date before work resumes, he said.
“We’re anxious for the project to be completed,” Conway Mayor Alys Lawson said.
While construction stalled on Coastal Estates, two other student housing complexes opened in August in the Conway area to help meet the demand as Coastal Carolina University continues to grow.
Monarch 544 and The Cove at Coastal Carolina, both off S.C.544, added more than 250 apartment units for students wanting to live near campus. Officials have said the additional units are needed to keep up with the university’s long-term growth.
Between fall 2001 and fall 2011, Coastal Carolina University’s enrollment grew 83 percent, according to CCU research officials.
Contact JANELLE FROST at 443-2404.