Horry County leaders plan to make an offer on the former Santee Cooper office in downtown Conway.
The 11,000-square-foot building sits at the corner of Second Avenue and Elm Street and is listed for $640,000, according to the state-run utility’s website. Sealed bids will be accepted until Oct. 1.
“We’re so short on so many spaces,” said Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner, who added that the county would like to use the property for government offices. “We’re going to make a bid on it.”
The building is close to many other county offices, including those inside the Government & Justice Center on Second Avenue. However, Gardner suspects the county will be competing with other organizations — and possibly other local governments — for the property.
Santee Cooper closed the office last year along with its branches in North Myrtle Beach and Garden City.
Citing a decline in visits to retail offices and increased online payments, Santee Cooper determined those locations weren’t needed. Utility officials said the closures would save Santee Cooper about $1 million each year.
The Conway office was built in 1969 and renovated in 2003, according to Santee Cooper’s records. It sits on just over an acre of land and holds 49 parking spaces.
County officials discussed the building during county council’s infrastructure and regulation committee meeting Tuesday.
“We have a need for space today,” administrator Steve Gosnell said. “We’re going to need additional property. We’re going to need additional facilities in the near future. … I would think we would need to maintain our concept of having this as our main campus.”
Apart from the Santee Cooper deal, councilman Bill Howard questioned where the county could purchase land.
“I’m just wondering where we’re going to expand,” he said. “Because we do need to expand.”
Registering the old courthouse?
During the same meeting Tuesday, council members discussed placing the old Third Avenue courthouse on the National Register of Historic Places.
If county leaders follow through with this plan, the effort would mark the first time county government has added a property to the registry.
County officials said doing this would make the building eligible for state and federal grants. The facility already has about $3 million in renovation needs.
A key requirement for a registered building, however, is that any construction done to it match federal standards for preserved property.
The full council expects to vote on adding the building to the registry next month.
“That’s a no-brainer,” Howard said. “It’s got to go on there.”