Future of historic cotton warehouse uncertain still - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Future of historic cotton warehouse remains uncertain

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Supporters of  the Palmetto Compress and Warehouse preservation Supporters of the Palmetto Compress and Warehouse preservation
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Packing up.  At the Palmetto Compress Warehouse Sunday people were loading moving trucks, wasting little time, after getting notice they have until the 31st to clear out. 

The plans are to tear the building down, brick by brick.

"You look at Charleston, they would never knock this building down," said business owner Todd Stuart. "I don't think there would be a debate in Charleston about knocking this building down."

The Vista Guild Merchant's Association, preservationists, local business owners and developers have launched a Facebook effort to save the century-old building used for storing cotton. 

It's one of the last associated with African American history in the Vista.

"We're surrounded by successful examples of  people coming in and rehabilitating and readapting historic buildings, that's what's so attractive," said Sarah Lewis with the Vista Guild Merchant's Association.

701 Whaley developer Richard Burts was told his project couldn't be done.  He believes the warehouse can be renovated, claiming sloped floors considered a challenge by some, may be an opportunity for the right developer.

"You don't look at building the same way, historic building the same way you look at a building coming out of the ground," said Burts. "So, you get the creative team together, you figure out what you have, what your limitations are and then you fit the plan around the building."

There's still the issue of a rehearing for the proposed student housing project by developer Edwards Communities on the site.  The proposal was denied by the city's Design Development Review Commission claiming the plans didn't fit the urban setting in the Innovista District design guidelines.  Three different appeals have been filed. No court date is scheduled and a hearing is scheduled for March 14th.

"It should be high density, urban use, mixed use," said Lewis.

The developer plans to raze the building whether the student housing moves forward or not.  With few cracks in the building's exterior, those wanting to save the building believe it can be done. 

Some have blamed the City for not considering the warehouse for city landmark status.  Mayor Benjamin's said in a statement to WIS: "The only way an economically feasible adaptive reuse plan for the building will ever be developed and its potential realized is if all parties can work together."

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