Columbia eyes 23 properties for blight demolition

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Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 4:29 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Columbia City Council is scheduled to vote on bringing down 23 blighted buildings in Columbia.

The council will vote on spending $420,055.02 of American Rescue Plan funds to hire Charlotte-based Environmental Holdings Group to demolish the properties.

The bid had been originally awarded to Columbia-based HAN Construction and Management in January for $267,080.33.

The Columbia Code Enforcement Division falls under the Columbia Police Department.

Department spokesperson Jennifer Timmons sent a statement to WIS that HAN was “not able to meet the minimum requirements to receive the project.”

Timmons reported the city’s code enforcement has arranged 15 demolitions since January 2023.

Here are the final 23 projects targeted with the new bid:

A WIS News 10 investigation in November 2021 found the abandoned homes to pose threats to public safety.

In April 2022, the Columbia city council set aside $571,000 in ARPA funds for the demolition of 77 properties.

A subsequent report in December 2022 found the demolition process had been significantly delayed by unforeseen asbestos survey requirements, and the list had been cut to 52 properties.

The new total is 38 properties, which Timmons said was the result of a fluctuating list. Columbia Housing Official David Hatcher has previously said the list changes as a result of changed ownership and abatement.

Two properties slated for demolition are on Carver Street in the Booker Washington Heights neighborhood. Carver Street resident Ruby Smith welcomed the prospect of the demolitions.

“It makes the community look bad because the buildings need to be repaired or they need to be torn down. It looks better with a vacant lot than a building that’s already falling down,” she said.

Smith said she would like to see the blighted buildings replaced with affordable housing.

The Columbia City Council meeting is at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

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