HGTC buying land for additional parking, storage

HGTC officials say they need to spend nearly $700,000 on property for storage space and student parking.
HGTC officials say they need to spend nearly $700,000 on property for storage space and student parking. cslate@thesunnews.com

Horry Georgetown Technical College officials plan to purchase two properties that will allow the school to add storage space and parking on the Conway campus.

The college’s board on Tuesday agreed to pay for an environmental study of 2.27 acres of vacant land owned by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. That research is the first step toward the college purchasing the land, which was recently appraised at $320,000. College officials say the site could add 150 parking spaces for students or another building. More storage areas are also needed, officials said.

The second property is on Victory Lane and holds Horry County Fire Station No. 23, home of the Horry County Fire Rescue hazmat team.

On Tuesday, Horry County Council approved the sale of the 2.62-acre property to the college for $350,000. However, the deal won’t close for another three years because the county needs time to find a new location and build another fire station.

Both properties are close to the campus. College officials say additional land is needed if HGTC is to expand.

“From a property standpoint, we’re pretty much landlocked,” HGTC President Neyle Wilson said. “I think we’ve got a little less than 12 acres left to develop. If you figure out your retention and your parking spaces, that’s very little footprint for us left.”

Although they support the expansion, several board members had questions about the state-owned property Tuesday.

“It says here that you want a recommendation to obtain an environmental study,” Vice Chairwoman Orrie West said. “How long does that take?”

Wilson said the study could take 90 days. He also said the money for the land purchases would come from the college’s reserve funds.

State officials have agreed to take the 2.27 acres off the market while HGTC leaders conduct their due diligence.

In other action, college leaders approved a tentative operating budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The $41.5 million spending plan will allow HGTC to continue operating while state lawmakers decide how much money they will allocate for colleges and universities.

HGTC hopes to see about $250,000 more in state funding. A $2 million contingency is built into the college’s budget in case of any shortfalls, enrollment declines or other unexpected expenses.

Contact CHARLES D. PERRY at 626-0218 or on Twitter @TSN_CharlesPerr.