By Heather Ruppe
A lack of housing for college students in Walterboro has been a large area of concern, especially with the college’s recruitment efforts to bring more students to the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie campus. To solve this, a private property owner is working with Walterboro officials and leaders at USC Salk to help turn a once private antebellum residence into a new all-female dorm.
A house located at 227 S. Jefferies Boulevard near downtown Walterboro has been rezoned for student housing. This will be used for the college’s girls volleyball team.
On April 25th, the City of Walterboro’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) approved a request for a Special Exception to allow for the use of the property for student housing for USC Salkehatchie. According to city Manager Jeff Molinari, this was not a re-zoning application, but was a special exception request heard by the zoning appeals board.
“The city is not contributing anything financially to the project,” he said.
With zoning complete, refurbishments to the property can begin.
“We were squeezing four girls into a one-bedroom apartment. So, we were looking for more dorm-like options and more space for our players,” said Alexis Ivey, head coach for the USC Salk Women’s Volleyball Team. Ivey was hired as the new head coach in May.
The goal is to have the new dorm ready for students ready by July 30th, depending on permits, said Ivey.
The volleyball season at Salk starts August 1st.
According to Ivey, the team has seven returning volleyball players from the 2021 season with four more committed. She is still recruiting more players. “Our goal is to have 14-16 girls,” she said.
The Salkehatchie Girls Volleyball Team ended last season ended 1 and 17.
“We won our very last game of the season,” said Ivey. ““We didn’t have the most successful season, but it was a rebuilding year. That comes with new dorms, and we are updating the gym and getting a new weight room. Just getting updates to the overall campus helps me to recruit.”
Ivey says that a new weight room for the team will be created during this summer. Additionally, the school is doing cosmetic updates to the gym/locker area.
“The hope is to have a complete gym redo in the next two to three years. We have to actually expand the floor, because it’s a little short right now. We have to blow out the back wall of the gym and expand it,” she said, adding that the school’s leaders hope to also add more seating.
“We are making it more professional, more collegiate,” she said. “It has to look and feel like a college.”
According to USC Salk Interim Assistant Dean of Student Success Dr. Brandon Wright, there are between 50 and 75 students in Walterboro who reside in private student housing. Students on the school’s Allendale campus also live in privately-owned housing.
He said USC Salk is not involved with the development of this student housing project in any way, but adds that he is very excited about what is occurring.
“We are excited about this project and how it can help our campus grow. Student housing allows students to meet new people and develop lasting friendships. It also allows for many social, educational and recreational opportunities,” he said.
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