CONWAY — The Singleton building, the oldest structure on Coastal Carolina University’s campus, is facing a renovation, but the extent of the work has yet to be determined and could cost up to $10 million.
The potential cost is $6 million more than the $4 million already approved by the board of trustees for cosmetic improvements to the building, such as new paint and carpeting. The university asked the board at its last meeting for the additional funds, which would cover a more extensive renovation, including gutting and restructuring the building’s interior.
A committee will meet Nov. 1 to review the scope and cost of any renovation, and the group will include trustees, as well as some members of the Horry County Higher Education Committee, said Stacie Bowie, CCU vice president and chief financial officer.
Singleton is 50 years old and was originally built for classrooms but now houses university administration, including the office of President David DeCenzo. The building has load-bearing, cement block walls and is in need of electrical, plumbing and HVAC upgrades, Bowie said, while mold and asbestos issues are addressed on a continuing basis.
“We’ve put several Band-Aids on it,” Bowie told the board. “It’s old, and it’s sick.”
Bowie said as plans for renovation developed, officials decided that with the number of shootings that have happened on college campuses, the president’s office should be relocated to the second floor. The move would require major restructuring inside to provide a secure suite for the president, a new center staircase and the installation of two elevators, as well as the shifting of most of the building’s other offices.
Trustee Natasha Hanna, who is on the new committee, said she needs more information about the renovation plan before she can form an opinion on what should be done, but she wants to monitor costs so the university can continue to keep tuition down.
“It concerns me that we have an increase of $4 [million] to $10 million,” Hanna said. “It may be a good idea, but I want to make sure every dollar we spend is necessary and not a luxury, especially since we’re still rebounding from the economic downfall.”
Board Chairman Wyatt Henderson said the president’s offices at some other universities are more difficult to reach, and the added security measure seemed like a good idea. Some trustees suggested alternatives, such as moving the office to a newer building, although others said it would not be right to move the president from the heart of campus.
There also were concerns about keeping the historic aspects of Singleton intact, as well as talk of placing the building on the National Register of Historic Places, which registers buildings that have reached 50 years old.
Bowie said none of the original $4 million has been spent except for the work the architect has done to date, and the $10 million estimate is the high-end cost if the building ultimately is gutted. The difference between the $4 million and the final cost will more than likely come from the penny sales tax, she said, but none of the plans have been finalized. Horry County’s penny tax was passed in 2008 and will be collected for 15 years to benefit Horry County Schools, CCU and Horry-Georgetown Technical College.
“Right now, all of that is up in the air until that committee meets,” Bowie said.
Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.