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USC seeks developer for 900 acres near football stadium, Congaree River • SC Daily Gazette

USC seeks developer for 900 acres near football stadium, Congaree River • SC Daily Gazette
USC seeks developer for 900 acres near football stadium, Congaree River • SC Daily Gazette

 


COLUMBIA The University of South Carolina is officially seeking a developer for nearly 900 acres it owns along the Congaree River, behind the facilities of its Gamecocks football team, to fund improvements to Williams-Brice Stadium.

USC officials on Wednesday issued a call for a developer to build a mix of resorts, apartments or condos and recreational facilities on the parcels near the Congaree River. It's also looking for hotels, apartments or condos and retail on 12 acres around Williams-Brice Stadium.

The state's largest university first surveyed developers across the country in February 2023 come up with ideas for how the land could be used; 21 companies responded. It is likely that one or more of these groups will submit a final development plan this time around and be asked to build it.

Almost all of the land in question, except about 40 acres, is in a flood plain that remains underdeveloped after a decade-long lawsuit reached the South Carolina Supreme Court.

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In the early 2000s, a partnership called Carolina Venture sought to develop a “city within a city” in the area.

The Green Diamond development was supposed to include housing estates, golf courses, a shopping center, restaurants, hotels, offices, a research and development park, a theme park and a wildlife exhibit. Developers never built this massive project due to federal and Richland County floodplain construction restrictions.

According to USC, a developer could use this flood-prone land for different types of outdoor recreation, such as a golf course. Development could be done vertically on higher ground nearby.

USC athletic officials said the development is expected to be behind Gamecock Park, home of the school's football team's facility and a major tailgating field. They also want to ensure fans continue to come to the 77,559-seat stadium, rather than watching games on television at home.

To do that, the athletic department is looking for ways to raise money to upgrade its 89-year-old stadium's bathrooms and concessions and add more luxury suites that will appeal to its wealthiest alumni and fans. The stadium has just 18 luxury suites, the second fewest in the Southeastern Conference, with a waiting list of more than 100 people.

As the country emerges from the global COVID-19 pandemic, the college sports market has made a permanent shift that has increased the value of high-end spaces, USC wrote in its latest request to potential developers. With a growing desire among fans for access to air-conditioned hospitality spaces, increased food and beverage options, improved pedestrian access and other entertainment amenities, the University recognizes the need to effectively adapt to changing consumer expectations.

Leasing the land to developers is one way USC hopes to raise those funds, although it hasn't said how much money it hopes to make from those deals.

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In its pitch, USC said the development could boost year-round tourism in Colombia.

Bidding documents asked potential developers to “think big to increase the national stature of the Gamecocks.” Some sources of inspiration include the entertainment districts surrounding the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium and the Atlanta Braves' Truist Park with its adjacent Battery District.

The college expects it will take six months “to identify the developer with the vision, financial means and expertise to try to achieve what we have in mind for this district,” the college said Wednesday. university architect Derek Gruner to the USC Board of Trustees. .

USC spent $3 million to purchase 547 acres of property. The school will not pay anything for development or maintenance costs. But developers will likely benefit from the university's tax-exempt status. Because USC would retain ownership of the land and lease it to developers who build on it, it would not generate any property taxes.

The arrangement is similar to a pair of apartments on Lincoln Street developed privately to house USC students, none of whom paid property taxes, according to the latest Richland County tax filings for the properties .

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