Larger office space, high-efficiency lighting and system upgrades are part of a series of renovations set to take place at a Richland County-maintained facility.
Richland County Council approved $3 million in funding for several improvement projects at the Department of Social Services (DSS) office on Two Notch Road. An increase in employees and expanded services means the agency needs more office space, and several outdated systems – such as lighting, heating and cooling – are due for modern replacements.
Although Richland County DSS is managed by the state, it is the responsibility of each South Carolina county’s governing body to accommodate its local DSS department with office space and facility services. DSS provides a variety of essential programs to residents, including child support services, elderly care, food assistance, domestic violence victim protection, disaster response and more.
“We are very grateful that Richland County is investing in renovations to address a number of critical needs for our office and staff,” said Reese Palmer, Director of Richland County DSS. “While the overall scope of the project will not address every need, it makes significant and much-needed improvements that will have an immediate, positive impact.”
The DSS office is an 82,000-square-foot structure built in 1960 and its undeveloped basement area formerly housed a movie theater. While major construction is necessary to transform the building’s large open areas into office space, other parts of the building are slated to get subtler updates such as new paint, tile and carpeting.
Initial site work and surveys will begin in September 2016, and actual construction is anticipated to start in September 2017 and conclude in June 2018. Richland County Capital Projects Manager Chad Fosnight notes that the construction schedule is contingent upon several factors, however, such as the timeliness of contracting design and construction firms and finalizing plans.
“This renovation project will follow a very aggressive schedule and will be phased in such a way as to ensure the normal everyday activities of the DSS staff and the services they provide are not negatively affected,” Fosnight said.
County Council approved funding for the facility’s upgrades during the recent budget process for fiscal year 2016-2017. The upgrades also include replacing 13 heating, ventilation and air conditioning units and installing a new roof.
“We are working very hard to enhance the public perception of Richland County DSS and I believe this aesthetic ‘facelift’ will greatly help in that effort and allow us to continue to improve our services to the community,” Palmer said.
More than 250 employees work at the Two Notch Road facility. DSS also operates a Richland County branch office in Eastover with six employees, though no updates are planned for that location.