City officials announce plans for old Bull Street hospital

Published: Jun. 24, 2013 at 7:55 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 20, 2013 at 4:42 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin finally announced major movement in the development of the old Department of Mental Health campus on Bull Street.

City leaders say it's the largest development project of its kind in the eastern United States.

Benjamin held a press conference at the Bull Street location to discuss an agreement between the city and Greenville developer Bob Hughes.

Hughes' plan is said to include a mix of housing along with retail and office space and possibly a baseball stadium.

Benjamin issued a statement today calling the project "absolutely unparalleled in its size, scope and the potential it holds for our city."

Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ike McLeese says the announcement solidifies the development plan moving forward.

"The concept of the development agreement is to avoid having to stop and discuss every project as it proceeds forward," said McLeese. "Obviously there will be issues that will crop up as time goes by, but a master development agreement is designed to avoid as many of those as possible."

Officials say if all goes well, the property will someday include apartments, possibly townhomes a mix of office and retail space, and even a baseball stadium that would be home field for a minor league team and a venue for other entertainment.

"The bottom line there is that the ballpark would be an accelerator as far as the build-out is concerned," said McLeese. "And it certainly would provide a venue downtown where I understand that most of the urban ballparks that have been built in the last eight, nine, ten years are in constant use throughout the year."

The development will cover about 180 acres and generate more than $1 billion in economic impact.

"A true game changer," said Benjamin.

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