Claflin has plans for Way Building; former site of the Kress to house the city center | Local

Orangeburg County is preparing to hand over a historic downtown building to Claflin University.

The university received $3 million in federal funds to upgrade the Way Building on Memorial Plaza to turn it into the Claflin University downtown community center.

It will house the Claflin University Center for Social Justice, the Pathway from Prison program, studios for young professionals and a business incubation site.

The building, which is located on the corner of Russell Street and Church Street, could also house retail businesses, Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young said.

Orangeburg County Council on Monday gave unanimous first-reading approval to the sale of the property to the university.

Although specific details of the contract were not immediately disclosed, Young said the property would most likely be turned over to the university with an agreement between the county and the university on the future use of the property.

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The Way Building on Memorial Plaza once housed S.H. Kress & Company.

In February 1960, black students at the old South Carolina State College and the old Claflin College — both now universities — heard about efforts to incorporate lunch counters in Greensboro, North Carolina. They were inspired to do the same in Orangeburg.

When local students were turned away from the Kress lunch counter in Orangeburg, they began a series of sit-ins. Kress then closed his lunch counter. Other downtown store owners reacted similarly.

The Way Property Company Inc. eventually purchased the 31,000 square foot building.

Way Property Company LLC offered the property – as is – to Orangeburg County for $10 in 2012.

Orangeburg County then entered into an agreement with the Shuler Group Inc. for the property in July 2017.

“We were approached by Claflin to take over this deal that we originally had with the Shuler Group,” Young told the county council on Monday.

He said all due diligence was done to end the county’s deal with the Shuler Group.

“We want to extend this opportunity to Claflin University to continue the development of the Kress facility to help us in our mission to help the city revitalize downtown Orangeburg,” he said. .


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Young said there is still sales tax money for capital projects set aside to improve the Way Building. The money was used to remove asbestos from the building.

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