ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Orangeburg County Council approved the first reading of a request to renovate the Kress building in downtown Orangeburg into a Claflin University complex.
“This is what we feel is, will be another big cornerstone piece after we just completed a library, is to come up with a partnership that could revitalize the Kress building," said county administrator Harold Young.
The county received the building through a family trust donation several years ago and are now working with Claflin University to find a new purpose for it.
According to a request made from Congressman Clyburn last year, the plan is to use the building to house the Claflin University Center for Social Justice, Pathway from Prison program, studio housing for young professionals, and a business incubator site.
The school's Pathway from Prison program helps formerly incarcerated individuals in the state transition back into society.
The business incubator would help start-up businesses by offering services like management training and office space.
Johnny Murdaugh owns neighboring business The Music Doctor and graduated Claflin University in 1969.
“Things that come out of Claflin are almost always a good idea," Murdaugh said. "But I am still leery as to what it is. I’m not sure. I’d like to find out exactly what and basically see how it’s going to affect, or even enhance my business."
The university has received $3 million in federal funding for the project. The county has already invested several hundred thousand dollars into asbestos removal at the building.
There will be three readings by council before the project is officially approved. The next council meeting is on April 4.
If approved, the revitalization process would begin later this summer.