CLOVER — Town officials this week took possession of the former National Guard Armory and began a discussion of plans to turn it into a community center for indoor recreation, special events, meetings and more.
“I think it’s great for the town to be able to have a facility like this,” said Clover recreation director Greg Holmes, who toured the site Monday with Town Manager Allison Harvey and other town officials.
The Clover Armory, built in 1961, was closed as an Armory site more than a year ago and has been unoccupied since then. Town officials last year asked state Rep. Tommy Pope to introduce a resolution in the S.C. General Assembly, seeking to get ownership of the property transferred to the town.
That process was completed last week, Harvey said.
Harvey said the town doesn’t have any indoor recreation space, and must borrow Clover school district gyms for basketball and volleyball games. In addition to recreation leagues, she said, the space could serve other purposes, such as community meetings, banquets and more. Space also could be leased to the community, she said.
Harvey said the Armory, located directly behind Clover’s Memorial Stadium, has served a variety of social purposes in the community when it was occupied by the National Guard during the 1980s and ’90s.
“There used to be dances and concerts here,” Harvey told Guard Sgt. Brad Moss, who toured the Armory with Harvey Monday and gave her the keys. “I’ve even talked with people who had their proms here.”
National Guard Armories are used for National Guard units to assemble as they prepare and train for federal and state missions. Armories are sometimes transferred to other government bodies when they are no longer needed.
The Clover Armory was occupied by Det. 1, Company A of the 178th Engineers, which consolidated with its parent in Rock Hill.
The site includes a large open hangar area where the Guard conducted training exercises, and several smaller rooms located off the hangar. A large storage building that is part of the property is located behind the main building.
Harvey said the storage building will be used by the town’s streets department to store equipment. She said some of the town’s equipment is stored in sheds, but not all of the equipment is covered.
“It really expands our capacity” for storage, Harvey said.
Harvey said there is no timetable for using the property. She said no money has been budgeted because town officials didn’t know how long it would take to obtain the rights to ownership.
She said the first step will be to have a professional inspection of the property to identify hazards. Then town officials will discuss needed improvements, such as new flooring in the hangar area.
“It will depend what we want to do,” Harvey said about the scale of improvements. She said she doesn’t expect the town to undertake major renovations of the property within the next year or two.