The University of South Carolina Beaufort's historic North campus likely will expand next week when a group that supports the college purchases the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce's offices at the highly visible Bellamy Curve.
The Beaufort Jasper Higher Education Commission announced Thursday it will buy the 5,028-square-footbuilding at 1106 Carteret St. for USCB to use as classroom space, offices and community meetings, among other things.
Officials expect the sale to close next week and will keep the selling price confidential until the deal is done, said Lynn McGee, USCB vice chancellor for advancement.
The property is listed on real estate company Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners' website at $695,000.
The purchase fits with USCB's goal of maintaining its presence in Beaufort and expanding its position downtown, Dr. Tim Pearce, the commission's chairman, said Thursday.
"(USCB) came to us and felt that this was a property they could use," Pearce said. "It's in close proximity to the downtown campus. ... It was a right fit for their needs."
The classroom space will house university courses and non-credit programs, such as those offered by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, according to a news release.
USCB will add art studio space for students as it concentrates its art programs at the Beaufort campus, McGee said.
No major renovations are planned, and USCB expects to start using the building by the end of the year.
The chamber recently signed a lease to rent the city-owned Carnegie Building on Craven Street, which is next door to its visitors center in The Arsenal, also a city-owned building.
The move opened an opportunity for the university, McGee said.
This isn't the first time USCB has looked at the building. About seven years ago, the commission considered the property but couldn't afford the $1 million price tag, McGee said.
A year later, the commission bought what is known as the Barnwell House on Prince Street for USCB's use, she said.
While nice, the building is not as close to the main campus as the Chamber's building at Bellamy Curve, McGee said. The Barnwell House is for sale, she said.
Having buildings in a central location helps create "more of a sense of community and of a campus," McGee said.
"Seven years later, we're a different university, and it's time to move on up," McGee said. "It's nice to have contiguous property rather than buildings that are scattered around. ... This is a great thing for us, and it's a great thing for the community."
In a news release, Jane Upshaw, USCB chancellor, thanked the commission for "pursuing the purchase of a highly visible property (that) will enhance the entire Historic Beaufort campus."
"Their strategic vision for how the university can develop in conjunction with the local community is exceptional," Upshaw said.
Carlotta Ungaro, Beaufort chamber president, said in the release she was "very pleased that one of the chamber's best partners will occupy this very visible property that welcomes visitors as they enter the downtown."