CCU moves ahead with Singleton Building renovation, other building projects

Coastal Carolina University has a number of building projects in the works over the next two years, including the renovation of the Singleton Building – the oldest on campus – and new spaces where students can work and live.

The university is still working with architects on the renovation of the Singleton Building, which is considered the heart of campus by many officials and alumni. The 50-year-old structure was originally built for classrooms but now houses university administration, including the office of President David DeCenzo.

The building has been patched over the years but is in need of a major overhaul. The $9 million renovation will include electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems; upgrades that meet the Americans with Disabilities Act; a new elevator; and asbestos removal.

“Surprisingly enough, everyone’s in agreement with what needs to happen,” said Stacie Bowie, CCU’s vice president and chief financial officer. “Our only holdup was deciding the size of the original library.”

The space that originally was a two-story library eventually was turned into office space, but Bowie said the renovation will remove the office infrastructure and restore the space to its original size. The university will have flexibility with the space, which will be appropriate for displays or events, she said.

Trustees had discussed the possibility of increasing security for the president’s office and relocating it to the second floor, which would have increased the renovation cost. Bowie said the president’s office will remain where it is on the first floor, but some changes will be made.

“It’s not that we’re fearful, but we will be rearranging that suite and making sure it has all the security measures needed so someone can’t just walk directly into the president’s office,” Bowie said.

Plans for the renovation have to go through the state approval process, which is expected to be finished by February, with construction beginning in March, Bowie said. The project should be completed by summer 2016.

The completion of the first of two annexes for the Lib Jackson Student Center is expected to occur in November. The project will cost about $12 million, and the first addition will have 39,000 square feet to house a movie theater, retail services and event space.

“I’m definitely really excited about the movie theater,” said Eliana Padron, CCU’s new student body president, “and there will be more space where people can just gather. We have a lot of space outside and the library, but I think as the school’s growing, we need more spaces inside.”

An added bonus of the movie theater is that it can fill the need for a smaller auditorium for certain programs, said Greg Thornburg, vice president of enrollment services. He said the theater could host gatherings for about 250 people that are too large for many campus spaces but would get lost in the 800-seat Wheelwright Auditorium.

Thornburg said it will be exciting to add the student center as a new stop on tours for prospective students, who usually visit campus in March and April during their spring break weeks. The university’s new student housing complex also will be another draw once enough of the structures are visible, he said.

“Students care about where they sleep, where they eat and where they’re going to work out, which is why the HTC Center became such a popular part of the tour,” Thornburg said. “Once the new residence halls are taking shape, the students will be able to visualize living there.”

The $85 million project will add 1,270 beds for freshmen on the main campus. Two buildings are to be finished in June 2015, with two more buildings completed in April 2016. Bowie said the goal is to have all freshmen living on the main campus and to open more space in University Place, off S.C. 544, for juniors and seniors.

Other projects to be completed this year include improvements to the baseball complex, which will be ready this summer, Bowie said, and berms and a boardwalk will be added by February. A catering kitchen also will open in October next to the Williams Brice Gym, which also will include more dining seats and open more dining space in the Hicks Dining Hall, she said.