NEWBERRY — With a 5-2 vote, Newberry County Council gave approval Wednesday night to proceed with the engineering of a new speculative building to be constructed at the Mid-Carolina Commerce Park.
The vote came with a warning for council members not to vote to proceed with the design work if they would not vote to fund the project.
The project would consist of a 50,000-square-foot shell building.
The cost to grade the land will be between $300,000 and $350,000 and construction will cost around $2.4 million. Currently the design work is 80 percent complete but was halted due to discussions over financing the project.
Santee Cooper, which provides power to Newberry Electric Cooperative, voted to fund 60 percent of the cost at 2 percent interest for five years with the county only paying the interest on the loan.
But council members are concerned that the building cannot be bought by then and they would have to pay principal and interest on the building.
Economic Development Director Teresa Powers said the building is needed to bring economic development to the county as 77 percent of the prospects are looking for an existing building.
Councilman Bill Waldrop said the county had already spend $6 million for the project and he cannot see putting a bigger burden on the taxpayers. He added he would be for the project if a developer funded it.
Councilman Kirksey Koon added he was also against the taxpayers funding the construction.
Both Koon and Waldrop voted against continuing with the project and the rest of council voted for continuing it.
The design on the project should be completed in March and construction is set to start the end of May. The building will be complete in November.
County Council members will vote on alternatives to finance the project at their Feb. 20 and March 6 meetings. The council meets at 7 p.m. in the Courthouse Annex on College Street.