Coastal Carolina University is moving its Litchfield outreach center up the road less than a mile, and the former college facility will become offices for hospital billing.
In October, the owners of the Waccamaw Higher Education Center at 160 Willbrook Boulevard asked the college if it would consider giving up its lease early. Coastal had occupied the building eight years, but the lease was to expire in June.
Coastal’s board agreed at its Oct. 26 meeting to vacate early conditioned on the owners assisting in costs of the move. The board also authorized the school’s administrators to negotiate a lease at Litchfield Exchange, locally known as the mall, for 7,000 square feet of space.
The move is good for the building’s owners, the hospital, the mall and CCU, said architect Steve Goggans, one of the building’s owners.
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CCU did not use all of the building and the owners wanted to maximize their investment by either selling it or leasing all of the space, he said in October.
There was another interested tenant, but Georgetown Hospital System took the space, Goggans said.
``We are happy,’’ he said. ``It looks like a good use for them. They are a good steward in the community and I think it’s a positive use for the space.’’
Hospital spokeswoman Ronda Wilson said Wednesday the entire space will be used to consolidate billing activities for both Georgetown Memorial Hospital and Waccamaw Community Hospital.
Those activities are currently scattered at the two hospitals and other locations, she said. It will be more efficient to have them in one place, and where they are somewhat central to patients of both hospitals who may need to pay a bill or have billing questions.
About 50 billing and credit workers will be moved to the new space, but billing staff will continue to be posted at both hospitals to assist patients, Wilson added.
The change also will help the hospital as it starts expanding the existing facility in Georgetown. A building currently used by some billing workers also will be freed up to house people temporarily as the expansion proceeds, she said.
Coastal officials said in October that if they move the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and other programs from the existing Litchfield facility, they intend to be ready for the classes to be on their regular schedule in January.
CCU spokesman Doug Bell said he had no other details about the move.
Litchfield Exchange, which began life as a small shopping mall, has not been full in recent years and underwent foreclosure two years ago.
Keith Errico, secretary-treasurer of the owners association, said the lease with CCU had not been finalized as of Wednesday and he could not comment on it.
But he said having CCU in the mall will be good for the building and the community.
``We’re just trying to make it work, to put a little bit of life back in that mall,’’ Errico said.
Contact Zane Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.