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Jul. 11, 2013

$1.2B Bull Street Development Receives Green Light

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

“Today we made a giant step forward in moving the Greater Columbia Region toward greatness. The Bull Street development will not only transform Columbia, but the recent debate will also impact the way Columbia approaches doing business,” declared Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Ike McLeese, according to the organization’s official Facebook page. The announcement came after the Columbia City Council approved the redevelopment agreement of the former mental hospital compound on Bull Street, the former home of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH).

According to a Miley & Associates, Inc. economic impact study commissioned by the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, upon completion the redeveloped 180-acre former hospital campus would generate over $1.2 billion economic activity, create 11,000 ongoing new jobs, $581 million in labor income and a yearly $20 million in property taxes that would be divided between the local government and schools. Moreover, 1,200 construction jobs will be created during the 20-year development process.

The project has been in the making eight years with the SCDMH and Greenville, SC-based Hughes Development signing a potential build-out plan in 2010. The project’s most recent master plan is signed by the Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ) and Cooper Carry, and it involves an impressive percentage of adaptive reuse projects, with 74 percent of existing structures to be repurposed with a  high emphasis on preserving the historic character of the buildings, including the iconic Babcock Building, a Columbia landmark and former mental asylum. In total, 3,558 residential dwellings are envisioned for the project, including apartment units, condominiums, townhomes as well as single family homes of various sizes and incomes. The project also calls for the development of  1.6 million square feet of commercial and office space, a 70-key hotel and church locations, as well as various community facilities and public spaces such as biking and hiking trails, recreational areas, and large-scale off-site roadway upgrades and maintenance. A minor-league baseball park and franchise are also being considered.

According to the Columbia Regional Business Report, the City of Columbia will fund $31.25 million in infrastructure improvements throughout the build-out if the developer will invest a minimum of $81.25 million. Furthermore, the city will construct two parking decks totaling 1,600 spaces upon the completion of either the rehabilitation of the Babcock Building, development of 120,000 square feet of taxable property or building of a baseball stadium. A primary school is expected to be needed and developed on site in the future as well.

Image courtesy of JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ MD via Wikimedia Commons 

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