CLOVER — Officials with the town of Clover want to acquire the defunct National Guard Armory on Memorial Drive and transform it into a place for indoor recreation, special events, meetings and community functions.
At the request of town officials, State Rep. Tommy Pope recently introduced a legislative resolution to the S.C. General Assembly, asking that the property be transferred to the town. It is the first step in an administrative process that officials say could take several months.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to recycle a building — to go from a dormant building to something that could be of tremendous use to our community — and hopefully at a minimal cost,” said Pope.
Town Manager Allison Harvey said the town doesn’t have any indoor recreation space, and must borrow Clover school district gyms for its basketball and volleyball games.
But the site also could serve a broad range of other purposes, she said, such as hosting community meetings, banquets and special events. There’s also a garage space at the rear that could provide storage for some of the town’s equipment, she said.
Harvey and Pope said they are both optimistic the transfer will be approved.
“If the National Guard decides for some reason that they need to hang onto the building, then that’s what will happen,” Pope said. “But the impression I got from them is they don’t have any plans for make further use of it.”
Harvey said it’s “not unusual for an Armory that has been decommissioned to go back to the unit of government that’s the closest. And we’ve got the wherewithal to take the building on, and really be able to return it to the community.”
National Guard Armories are used for National Guard units to assemble as they train and prepare for their federal and state missions. They also house military equipment and vehicles.
The Clover Armory, built in 1961, was closed about a year ago, according to Maj. Cindi King, public affairs officer for the S.C. National Guard. It had previously been occupied by Det. 1, Company A of the 178th Engineers, which consolidated with its parent unit in Rock Hill, she said.
King said the building, owned by the state, is now unoccupied.
However, she said the ownership of such armories can be transferred to another government body when they are no longer needed. For example, the National Guard Armory in York was transferred to the York County Sheriff’s Office in April 2000, King said.
Pope said that former Armory building is used as a training center.
Harvey said she expects the town would have to complete some renovations to the building, including making it accessible to the disabled. However, she did not expect major work to be needed.
“It’s my understanding the building was upgraded not too long ago, probably within the last five years with a new roof,” she said.
Harvey said the town’s interest in the Armory dates back to 2006, when some changes in the operation of the facility prompted the town to send a letter of interest to the National Guard.
She said some National Guard staff members were assigned to the Clover Armory after that date. However, she said the town sent another letter of interest to the National Guard in early 2012, after the guard had ceased staffing the site. She said the town then received details from the National Guard about the process of gaining ownership.
She said if the resolution introduced by Pope is approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Nikki Haley, the state would be asked to declare the property “excess” to the National Guard and the Budget and Control Board would complete the transfer.
Harvey said the Armory served a variety of social purposes in the community when it was occupied by the National Guard during the 1980s and 90s. King said National Guard armories are often available to rent when scheduled with the occupying unit.
“It’s been part of our history for a very long time, and it was enjoyed by the public, not just through the National Guard, but through dances and concerts and all kinds of things,” Harvey said. “It was a place for the community to gather socially.”