Orangeburg Hindus have purchased a former car dealership with plans to develop banquet facilities for both public and temple use.
The Hindu Temple and Cultural Center has purchased the former Gibbes Ford dealership at 1175 Five Chop Road.
“We are going to make a meeting hall for anyone in the community to rent,” Hindu Temple trustee PJ Patel said.
Patel said plans are to renovate the building and create three banquet facilities — one 12,000 square feet, another 7,000 square feet and a third 3,500 square feet. The facility will also include a kitchen. The largest banquet hall will seat about 700 and the two others around 500 and 300.
The target opening date is the fourth quarter of 2015, Patel said.
The 7-1/2 acre property was purchased for about $535,000, according to Patel.
“The total building will be renovated inside and out,” Patel said, estimating the cost of renovations could be about $1.2 million. He said all work will be approved by the temple’s board of trustees.
The banquet facility will be operated and managed by the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center.
The old dealership has been cited by state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter as an ideal place to locate an Orangeburg cultural visitors and welcome center. The $1 million in seed money for the project was vetoed by Gov. Nikki Haley last year.
Patel said in addition to banquet facilities, the building could also satisfy any future growth of the temple.
“Our community is growing right now,” he said.
It is estimated there are about 300 Hindu families within about a 60-mile radius of Orangeburg and other local communities such as Denmark, Barnwell and Bamberg.
Patel said the banquet hall will also serve as a meeting place for Hindus for weddings and baby showers.
Four years ago the Hindus celebrated the grand opening of their current Temple and Cultural Center located at 1035 Five Chop Road.
The original Hindu temple opened in 2007 on Charleston Highway with about two families.
The Five Chop Road Ford auto dealership site has seen its share of ownership changes in recent years.
The facility has been vacant since the spring of 2012 when Gibbes Ford moved from the site to U.S. 601 by the Regional Medical Center.
George Gibbes purchased Ford of Orangeburg, formerly Whatley Ford, in March 2009.
Paul D. Whatley, former owner of Orangeburg’s Whatley Toyota-Mazda, purchased the dealership in August 2007.
The facility was built in 1988 at a cost of $1.25 million and operated as Horne Motors, which was founded by the late Dick Horne in 1931.
The dealership was purchased by Barron Driskell as a subsidiary company of Driskell Automotive Group in 1999.