‘Cleanup Monticello Road in a new way’: CIU buys Richland Co. properties to stop crime, grow business
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Buildings along Monticello road in Richland county are being knocked down, in an effort to reduce crime and grow the economy.
Last year, Columbia International University began the effort to purchase seven properties by the I-20 and Monticello Road Corridor.
The properties are a part of the 29203 zip code that WIS has been reporting on. In 2018, that zip code saw 19 homicides, more than 50 aggravated assaults and more than 25 armed robberies.
Herbert McDuffie Jr. said he has lived in the area for 50 years. We asked him what the area has been like all that time and how he believes what CIU is doing will help.
“Trash, more or less,” McDuffie Jr. said. “The things that was going on out here, I think it’s going to run a lot of it away so far as drug selling, hanging out, stuff like that. I think it’ll be real, real nice.”
On Tuesday, Columbia International University officials held a press conference to outline the project and the plans moving forward. University President Mark Smith started with the initial plans and reasons behind the work.
“Sheriff Lott was one of the first guys I met with as well and he told me, he said, ‘one of the number one crime responses we have to go is right here on Monticello road,’” Smith said.
Smith also pointed to the economic change this will bring to the area.
“To begin to attract new business, new educational opportunities for this area," Smith said. "Our goal along has been: let’s uplift the community, let’s invest in the community.”
Others who live and work nearby said they support CIU’s initiative. They tell WIS they want to see restaurants, a supermarket, and more opportunities come to the area.
“I think that as they bring food places, maybe a Walmart, mini-mart or something like that and some restaurants, I think that would be very good for this area,” said David Jenkins, a Pastor at nearby Ambassadors Christian Center.
“With any kind of businesses they bring, the convenience and a better quality life for the people In this community, is huge for me,” said Sabrina Edwards with the North Columbia Business Association.
CIU officials said it is too early to said what will come to the properties but add they have spoken to some developers.
Smith said CIU will retain ownership of the land and businesses will rent from the University.
Amidst concerns that this may lead to gentrification in the area, Smith said they have worked hand in hand with the community to make sure that does not happen.
Smith said so far 15 million dollars have been invested into the project along Monticello Road.
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