SC National Guard expands Lowcountry efforts with new readiness center

VIDEO: SC National Guard expands Lowcountry efforts with new readiness center

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina National Guard is working to expand its footprint in the Lowcountry.

The design and construction of a new readiness center on Joint Base Charleston is set to start by the end of 2019.

Leaders say it’s a needed investment to upgrade the guard’s aging infrastructure.

Many of the South Carolina National Guard’s current buildings were constructed in the 1950s, and in the decades since then, the scale of its operations and equipment have outgrown the facilities.

It’s estimated the Summerville Readiness Center still won’t be ready until 2023, although the project has been in the works since 2012.

It has been met with some challenges along the way, namely its location. One area considered for the new center was a parcel of land near Gahagan Park in Summerville. However, leaders say encroaching residential construction and the size of the land were not ideal.

The facility comes with a price tag of more than $16 million, but leaders say it’s desperately needed to keep up with the demands of disaster response and support in the Lowcountry and worldwide.

“Our modernization of equipment is really exceeding the design of a 1950s building, when you had jeeps versus these large trucks, just as an example,” said Brig. Gen. Brad Owens, the guard’s director of the joint staff. “You can imagine how difficult it is for us to not only store our equipment but properly maintain our equipment, properly account for our equipment, and then to prepare our troops and get ready to deploy.”

The Summerville Readiness Center will be about 58,000 square feet, and it will house two units aboard Joint Base Charleston with eight full-time employees.

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