Renovations to come for dilapidated Mt. Zion Institute in Winnsboro

Renovations to come for dilapidated Mt. Zion Institute in Winnsboro

WINNSBORO, SC (WIS) - There are new plans for a dilapidated building in downtown Winnsboro that will allow county government to be located in a centralized hub.

The Mt. Zion Institute in Winnsboro has been vacant since 1990.

Fairfield County Council voted on a third reading to restore the old school in early October.

The main reason for the project is to provide the county with a new administration building.

The current building was built in the 1930s and was last renovated last about 25 years ago.

Renovations to come for dilapidated Mt. Zion Institute in Winnsboro
Renovations to come for dilapidated Mt. Zion Institute in Winnsboro

Today that building faces roof, heating and air problems.

Rather than renovating the building they already have, a company called 1st & Main Development agreed to purchase the Mt. Zion building.

1st & Main Development purchased the building from the City of Winnsboro for $1.

“The building technically had negative value with the cost the town was going to spend on demolishing. Remediation estimated to be $250,000+," a company spokesperson said.

1st & Main Development will handle construction and will be the owner of the building for the first 7 years.

During the 7 years, they will lease the building to the county. Then, the county will take ownership of the building during year 8.

This allows the county to not have to pay for the building all at once, along with utilizing tax credits.

The agreement states the costs will be capped at $8.9 million dollars, therefore if renovations cost more, the county will not be held responsible.

Other potential sites would have to be paid all at once.

“The Mt. Zion property has been the heart of Winnsboro for many, many years. We do hope that repurposing this building as a county office will have the benefit of bringing people back downtown and helping to revitalize downtown Winnsboro,” Fairfield County Administrator Jason Taylor said. “At this point, we’re looking to put the sheriff’s department in here, the finance department 911.”

Some residents believe this is a big project for a community that has already seen an economic loss.

Winnsboro resident Becky Swearingen said, “There is no way without the nuclear plant that we as tax paying citizens can support this.”

Others raise concerns about traffic.

“I think it would be absurd to put that much more traffic in a neighborhood when it’s not necessary," Winnsboro resident Pamela Smith said.

1st & Main Development plans to break ground June 1st, 2019.

Vice Chairman Fairfield County council Bertha Goins said, “We’ve been through a lot in this county, we’ve had a lot of disappointment, failures, and a lot of things have happened. It’s time for us to start something new.”

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