WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Want a free house?
The City of West Columbia would be happy to provide you with one, but you will have to act fast to get it moved. The city has bought four houses and is finalizing the purchase of a fifth in a section of the Mill Village community.
They are being removed to increase parking space near the popular West Columbia Riverwalk.
Some of the houses in the neighborhood date back nearly a hundred years, to the era when textile production dominated much of South Carolina's manufacturing economy.
While there are dozens more like them nearby, the city has targeted those on roughly a block between Oliver and Hudson Streets. Some nearby residents are not happy to see the houses being removed.
"I think it's going to take away (from the community)" says Ali Moons, who lives next door to one of the purchased properties.
"One because it's the gateway to our neighborhood, coming off the river, coming off the bridge. Instead of seeing these charming homes attracting possible homeowners, renovators, tourism…it's going to be a parking lot," Moons told us.
The city's new property is close to the construction of a multi-million dollar residential and commercial development called Brookland. The project eliminated an overflow parking area for people visiting the Riverwalk.
Councilman Tem Miles says the houses are "great" but the city really needs more parking space to serve visitors.
"You're giving up a part of the Mill Hill," Miles says.
"In exchange for that, you're preserving and enhancing the accessibility of the Riverwalk."
Miles says anyone who wants the houses can get them at no cost, but they will have to pay to move them. He says the city expects to clear the property within the coming month.