Public weighs in on controversial Richland Renaissance plan

Public weighs in on controversial Richland Renaissance plan
(Source: WIS)
(Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The public was given its second opportunity to weigh in on the Richland Renaissance plan, a $144 million project aimed at revitalizing parts of the county and making county offices more accessible to residents.

The Richland Renaissance project was first introduced in December 2017, passing the county council by a narrow 6-5 vote. Several of the members who voted against the proposal fear, if the project goes over the budget, it could bankrupt the county.

"We're going to have close votes," council chair Joyce Dickerson said, "but at this point, I think we are moving forward together as one, as one council and working together on this."

The project includes several initiatives such as consolidating and relocating the county's offices to Columbia Place Mall, redeveloping the county administration building into a new judicial center, building a new multipurpose facility in the lower Richland community, developing a business and tourism "start center" in the Broad River Road area, a revitalization strategy to improve the county's livability and appearance, and creating a historic trail to spotlight cultural and historically significant landmarks.

"At this point, it's a timeline of about two to three years," Dickerson said. "The most important thing is we want to move forward with a plan that includes what the community wants and what it sees fit."

Dickerson said the county is in dire need of rebranding itself and said the Renaissance project is the perfect way to do it.

"I don't think we're too far behind other cities of similar size, but there is room for improvement," she said.

The massive project would create construction jobs, something Dickerson said will help the overall economy.

"The economic impact of this project will be incredible," she said. "Richland County is alive and well and this is going to elevate us to a new level."

Carrie Moore attended Thursday night's public hearing regarding the project. She said she's anxious to see it all come together.

"So far,  I think it's an excellent project because we need to bring in new businesses and need the area to really come back, which as far as I can see is happening," she said. "It's really past due."

Bennett Russell-Johnson said she's looking for the Columbia Place Mall area to return to its formal glory.

"I remember when the mall was vibrant and full of shops and restaurants and I want to see it revitalized," she said. "I want to be part of the change because I think the Renaissance is going to benefit the whole county."

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