FLORENCE, S.C. — Francis Marion University soon will begin a series of major construction projects.
At its quarterly meeting on June 20, the university’s board of trustees unanimously approved two separate resolutions to facilitate the planned work. FMU President Fred Carter outlined the strategic vision behind the plans during his remarks at the meeting.
“These projects are an integral part of FMU’s future,” Carter said. “They’ll enhance existing programs, provide the capacity for new ones and accelerate the university’s momentum. It’s an exciting time to be at FMU.”
The resolutions involved a property transfer relating to the university’s planned freshwater ecology laboratory and conference center, and a bond refinancing.
The projects in the pipeline include the refurbishing of the old post office in downtown Florence, the construction of an Honors Center on FMU’s main campus, construction of the freshwater ecology laboratory and conference center just north the main campus, a final-phase addition to the Griffin Athletic Complex field house, a remodeling of the Smith University Center’s athletic facilities, residence hall renovations and the nearly completed new Dargan Street facility in the L.S. Rainwater Building.
That facility, the former L.S. Rainwater Building at 143 N. Dargan St., will soon be home to Francis Marion’s Kelley Center for Economic Development and its business incubator, some university offices, office space for the North Eastern Strategic Alliance regional economic development organization and a new, first-floor art gallery, curated by FMU’s fine arts faculty.
Perhaps the most complex project is the $8 million renovation of the old post office and federal building on West Evans Street in downtown Florence. The 38,000-square foot building, across the street from FMU’s Carter Center for Health Sciences, will host classroom, lab and office space for FMU’s growing collection of Health Science programs. Work there is in the planning stage.
The Honors Center, a $4.1 million facility located in the heart of FMU’s main campus, will serve the university’s burgeoning Honors Program, the McNair Center for Research and Service and FMU’s International Studies Program. Initial work on the 15,000-square-foot building is scheduled to begin late this year.
A 146-acre tract donated to FMU by the Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation this spring, will be the site of the new freshwater ecology laboratory and conference center. The land, which includes 20-acre lake, is north of the intersection of I-95 and S.C. 327. The laboratory will serve as a learning site for FMU’s natural sciences and will allow for expansion of programs in that area. The planned conference center will be available for both university and community events.
FMU has been renovating its Village Apartments, the oldest university residential housing units, since the end of the spring semester. That project is nearing completion and will be ready for occupancy this fall.
A major makeover of the Griffin Athletic Complex and the Smith University Center is also in the works. These improvements will add or enhance facilities for FMU’s student athletes and introduce new capacities in the area of athletic training and student-athlete health.