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Conyers says Orangeburg’s Railroad Corner development aligns perfectly with SC State’s vision

Author: Sam. Watson, Director of University Relations|Published: June 20, 2024|All News

Belcher view

Before and after: The view of Railroad Corner from the fourth floor of SC State University's Belcher Hall (above) and artist's renderings of how the corner will look after revitalization (below).


ORANGEBURG, S.C. – From the upper floors of South Carolina State University’s Belcher Hall, President Alexander Conyers often has looked toward Orangeburg’s Railroad Corner with thoughts of what it once was and what it might become.

On Wednesday, June 19, Conyers joined the City of Orangeburg, U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn and developers in a groundbreaking ceremony for the $23 million investment that will revitalize site.

Conyers RR corner
SC State President Alexander Conyers speaks about the effects of Railroad Corner's revitalization on the university.
Quoting legendary singer Sam Cooke’s civil rights anthem, “A Change is Gonna Come” – appropriately on Juneteenth -- Conyers said the redevelopment project has been a long time coming.

“We know the history that’s. been made here for generations,” Conyers said in his remarks at the ceremony. “While we cannot repeat that, what we will do starting today is make a new history for new generations of students who will come here for their education.

“Our students deserve exactly what the city and the county are providing for them here today,” Conyers said.

Railroad Corner sits at the convergence of Russell, Boulevard and Magnolia Streets along the Norfolk Southern Railway and includes two parcels across Treadwell Street.
SC State President Alexander Conyers speaks about the effects of Railroad Corner's revitalization on the university.
Eight buildings are on the site, many of which are vacant or distressed. Once home to Boyd’s Diner and other businesses frequented by SC State students, the area has been largely dormant for several decades.

Funded in part through President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law, the redevelopment plan targets 11 parcels covering about 1.25 acres. The plan includes a multimodal transit hub with a new public transit stop, charging stations for electric vehicles and bicycles and a parking garage.

The completed project will become the new home for the Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum, an ice cream parlor and other businesses, and housing for about 200 SC State – via the SC State Real Estate Foundation -- and Claflin University students. The plan also includes a pedestrian bridge over the highway and the railroad tracks giving SC State and Claflin students and employees easier access to and from downtown Orangeburg.

“This vision today aligns perfectly with our vision. As we seek to grow enrollment, students and parents hope to see this type of development,” the SC State president said. “This aligns perfectly with our current $100 million of construction that’s happening on the campus.”

Like Railroad Corner, the SC State campus is amid a revitalization under Conyers’ leadership, as several capital projects are underway to attract and better serve students. The work includes renovating and expanding the Kirkland W. Green Student Center, remodeling Sojourner Truth Hall and erecting a new 90,000-square-foot academic building. It also includes a project near and dear to Congressman Clyburn’s heart.

“This aligns perfectly with South Carolina State University’s plan to redevelop Russell Street, beginning with the long-overdue and long-awaited James E. Clyburn Transportation Center,” Conyers said.

Conyers also noted that private developers will soon break ground for two new student housing complexes on Russell Street. Coupled with the residential space at Railroad Corner, the Russell Street complexes will free up residence hall rooms on the SC State campus, allowing the university to admit and house more students.

“So, for South Carolina State to grow, we need the city, the county, the state and private investors helping us to do so,” he said. “I want to thank everyone for ensuring that our students also receive the best that we can offer them.

“On behalf of the students who will frequent this area – shop, live, work and play – thank you very much.

As for that view of Railroad Corner from Belcher Hall, Conyers also announced a plan to ensure that SC State is more visible from Railroad Corner. He tasked the administration with moving the university’s name to the top of Belcher in larger letters.

“So, when folks drive through Orangeburg, they will know also it’s the home of South Carolina State University,” Conyers said.

Railroad Corner's redevelopment is part of Orangeburg's effort to revitalize the Russell Street Corridor, which has included building a new county library and conference center and a new commercial kitchen at the Orangeburg market pavilion.