Claflin University faculty and staff will now have more opportunities for living near campus.

The university celebrated the grand opening of The Villas at Claflin on Friday. The Villas are a nine-unit townhouse complex located at 2005 Magnolia Street, across the street from the campus.

The two-floor, two-bedroom and 1-1/2 bath townhouses are reserved specifically for Claflin faculty and staff.

“Here we grow again,” Claflin University President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack said. “This is part of the elevation and transformation agenda and we are looking forward to continuing to be an anchor in this community.”

The townhouses contain a living room area and a kitchen complete all-new stainless steel appliances. The units are not furnished.

Minority-owned RHI did the contract work to upgrade and renovate the apartments.

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The monthly cost for a townhouse is $850 a month.

“They are going fast,” Warmack said, noting the apartments are at about 90% occupancy. “They are a sight unseen: for the price, for the location directly across from campus, people are getting them very fast.”

Warmack said the apartments are a positive recruitment tool for the university.

“It is phenomenal,” he said. “To find quality housing in Orangeburg at a below market rate makes a world of a difference.”

Warmack said three of the faculty that have applied for the apartments are new to the university.

“This was a selling point for three of them,” he said. “They were not going to come unless this was available.”

The university is in early conversations about other affordable housing opportunities, he said.

Warmack said the townhouses are a part of his vision for economic and workforce development.

“As a pillar of this community that has been around 153 years, we have a civic and moral responsibility to continue to build up the community and to have an economic impact,” Warmack said. “This is just a start of that piece.”

Warmack said he’s excited about the opportunities for faculty and staff.

“We continue to invest in the students. You can see the student center that is being built, residence halls, but we also have to think about faculty and staff and their commitment,” Warmack said.

“This is a special place,” he said.

According to Orangeburg County property records, Claflin purchased the property in August 2021 for $550,000 from Magnolia Apartments LLC.

“This is debt-free,” Warmack said. “We owe no debt on this. That is why we can offer it at a below market rate to ensure that we did not put the cost back on our faculty and staff.”

The townhouses are not the only developments the university has recently announced.

The university has received $3 million in federal funds to improve 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, Pathway from Prison program, young professionals’ studio housing and a business incubator site.

The building, which is located at the corner of Russell Street and Church Street, could also house some retail.

Earlier this year, the university also broke ground on a $30 million, three-story student center.

Plans call for the center to include a theatre, performing arts center, 800-seat ballroom, eSports center, meeting/conference rooms and a food court with national, name-brand eateries.

The university hopes to have the 85,000-square-foot center open by June 2023. It’ll be located at the corner of Magnolia Street and Goff Avenue.

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