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USC to build business school, lease old one to U.S.

By James T. Hammond
Published July 20, 2009

The University of South Carolina will build a new, $90 million home for the Moore School of Business in Columbia’s Innovista, officials said today.

The university will pay for the new building in part with revenue generated by a new agreement to lease the Close-Hipp Building to the U.S. Department of Justice for 20 years. The Close-Hipp Building is the current home of the Moore School.

The new business school site is tentatively at the Southeast corner of Greene and Lincoln streets, on what the university refers to as Foundation Square. The Colonial Life Arena occupies the Northwest corner of the square, and the new Discovery biotechnology building is on the Northeast corner. The Southwest corner is currently a parking facility.

Graham1 Moving the business school out of the University Hill neighborhood and into the evolving Innovista campus would dramatically change the focus of the University in the city. The University already controls considerable land in the zone between Assembly Street and the Congaree River, providing space for continued growth.

Former President Andrew Sorensen launched the university’s tectonic shift of direction toward the river. The idea was to involve the city and private property owners in the transformation toward a new urban environment where people could live, work and play. President Harris Pastides was present at the creation of the concept, assisted Sorensen in the plan’s development and continues to advance the vision.

Officials gave a few details today of the plans for the new business school. The estimated $90 million cost of the new business school will comprise $65 million in bonds to be repaid by lease revenue; $15 million pledged to the Moore School as a match to Darla Moore’s gifts; and $10 million in other private gifts already held by the university. An additional $25 million in university funds will be used to renovate the Close-Hipp Building for the Justice Department, said USC Chief Financial Officer Ted Moore.

Construction on the new business school is expected to begin early next year, with completion scheduled for May 2013.

Design work has not begun, but previous concept drawings of a new business school have shown two buildings — one for the undergraduate program and a second for the graduate school, which includes the No. 1-ranked international business graduate program.

The business school is named for USC trustee and financier Darla Moore, who has donated $70 million to the school. Of that total, the school was required to raise $45 million in matching funds.

John Parks, who heads Innovista development for USC, said it has become clear that the engineering and scientific research in Innovista needs to be linked with the new emphasis in the Moore School on entrepreneurship. Pastides made clear that companies considering locations in Innovista want that proximity to the business school’s resources.

The Department of Justice will take over the Close-Hipp Building in about four years, officials said, after the new business school is constructed and the Close-Hipp Building is renovated. The federal agency plans to move government and contractor jobs from Washington, D.C., to Columbia. Additional employment at the facility is expected to be about 250 within a few years. The new Justice Department offices will expand the National Advocacy Center, which is located next door and trains federal prosecutors.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said the relocation of 250 employees from Washington, D.C., is part of the ongoing decentralization of the federal government since 9/11, an effort to make federal agencies less vulnerable to attack in the nation’s capital.

“It not only made sense from a national security point of view, it’s going to save taxpayers $42 million,” Graham said.

NAC20Marshall Jarrett, director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, said moving some operations to Columbia will save the agency money because costs are lower in Columbia. Some staff members will move to Columbia while the construction and renovations are under way. The Justice Department also will lease about 365 parking spaces from the university. Staff members currently housed at 1600 Hampton St. will eventually move to the Close-Hipp Building.

The National Advocacy Center has been operating adjacent to the Close-Hipp Building for 11 years. It is named for former U.S. Sen. Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings, who was instrumental in having the center located here.

In May 1999, the National College of District Attorneys moved its headquarters to the center. When the Close-Hipp Building renovation is completed, Jarrett said, it will become home to the new Justice Leadership Institute.

“This agreement is the winning combination for both the Department of Justice and the University of South Carolina,” Graham said. “It is a wise collaboration that will save the taxpayers money and benefit the university in the years to come. I wish we saw more visionary collaborations like this one between the federal government and outside institutions.”

University officials were especially excited about the prospect of having a new home for the highly rated Moore School of Business, for its undergraduate and graduate programs alike.

“Having the internationally recognized Darla Moore School in Innovista will be transformative,” Pastides said. “We are thrilled to announce our intent to construct a new building. But, ultimately, Innovista is about the people and what goes on inside the buildings. The teaching, learning and research, along with the Darla Moore School’s vast array of seminars and conferences, will help attract knowledge-based enterprises to Innovista and potentially to our state and build the intellectual foundation of Innovista.”

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Added: 20 Jul 2009

Big news for my old school