Orangeburg County officials broke ground Monday on an $8.5 million library and conference center designed to be a focal point for the community.
“This building will be iconic, stand the test of time, but most importantly, put the heart back into the community and be a building that the people of Orangeburg could be and would be proud of,” project developer Andrew Silver of M&P Land, LLC said.
The library and conference center will be built on the site of the former Piggly Wiggly at 1645 Russell St. The work is expected to take 18 months to two years.
The new library will be roughly 50,000 square feet, which is double the size of the current library, and will feature 80 computer stations, art space and multipurpose rooms, County Community Development Division Director Richard Hall said.
The site will also house an amphitheater and a 10,000 square-foot, 450-seat conference center, Hall said.
The funding for the project will come from the capital project sales tax and the capital improvement fund.
“I think what we’ve designed here is a building that’s going to take us into the next century technology-wise. It’s a gorgeous building. … I don’t think we’ve wasted any money on this building, we’ve put it all in the infrastructure and making sure this is a building that could serve our community for a long time to come,” Hall said.
The construction of the library will be overseen by O’Cain Construction of Orangeburg.
“All of the buildings here will be demolished, and we’ll be putting back about a little less than 50,000 square feet. Very contemporary, outdoor amphitheater, a very, very nice project for Orangeburg County,” Michael O’Cain said.
O’Cain, who is the president of the company, said, “We’re handling the entire project from demolition to finish. At any given time, there will be 30 to 40 craftsmen out here.”
Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler said, “This is an exciting time in the history of Orangeburg to build a library such as this that will move us into the digital age.”
Library Director Anna Zacherl praised the efforts of the county to improve the lives of its citizens.
“Orangeburg County has been on a steady upswing with a renewed vigor to answer the call of its citizens, to excel at every measurable indicator of a community’s wellbeing,” Zacherl said.
Orangeburg County Administrator Harold Young gave a large amount of credit for the library project, and the overall advancement of the county, to the county council members.
“You have to talk about the vision of this county council. Their legacy is something that is unheard of. A lot of the major projects that are moving this county forward are due to the legacy of the county council we have,” Young said. “It’s a group that you have to proud of.”
“For the future of Orangeburg, this is one of the biggest things that we’ve seen,” Young said.
He said the project will be significant because, “it’s for the children. This is not for us, but it’s for the future and our children. And that’s where it all starts.”
Young also noted the library’s proximity to both Claflin and South Carolina State universities.
“This facility is also close enough so that the students of these universities can come here and take part in this library experience,” Young said.
Young noted that the North branch of the library will be moving into an expanded space and Bowman will getting a branch library.
“We’re going to keep bringing projects to you. This is going to be a wonderful 2020,” Young said.
Orangeburg County Council Chairman Johnnie Wright thanked those involved with the project.
“We just want to thank everyone. Teamwork gets it done, no matter how small a part you played,” he said.
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